The U.S. today is in chaos as more details emerge over the scandalous PRISM surveillance program. In short, anything you say or do is being monitored by the government unless you’re off the grid in the Alaskan Wilderness (in which case how are you reading this?). And some pretty big names are attached to the allegations, too, including Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and, yes, Google.
Or, maybe not Google.
When news broke late Thursday evening, reports claimed these companies were willingly participating by giving unprecedented access to information from the past several years. But Google on Friday said it hasn’t joined any program, PRISM or otherwise, that would give the U.S. government direct access to its servers.
“Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers,” Google CEO Larry Page wrote in a blog post Friday. “We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday… Any suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.”
According to Page, Google only provides data to the government in accordance with the law, and the search giant reviews every request before handing info over. Page goes on to say a more transparent approach needs to be devised, and highlights the company’s effort to be open about requests it does receive from the government. The Washington Post on Friday revised its bombshell report by clarifying that companies didn’t know about information being swiped.
Whether Google is being truthful or not, the fact that PRISM exists is certainly troubling. It’s unlikely the majority of Americans have anything to hide, so a few emails or calls probably won’t indict a neighbor down the road. But it’s clear the government (could) be watching, with or without your cooperation—or cooperation from big companies for that matter.