News / Science & Technology

Google Employees Lash out at NSA over Cable Tapping Reports

An illustration shows the logos of Google and Yahoo connected with LAN cables in a Berlin office Oct. 31, 2013.
An illustration shows the logos of Google and Yahoo connected with LAN cables in a Berlin office Oct. 31, 2013.
Reuters
A pair of Google Inc employees involved with the internet company's security systems have publicly lashed out at the National Security Agency, with one of the employees accusing the organization of subverting the law by intercepting communications on cables linking Google's various data centers.
 
Nobody at the U.S. National Security Agency or the British intelligence agency “will ever stand before a judge and answer for this industrial-scale subversion of the judicial process,” wrote Mike Hearn, an engineer at Google, on his personal Google+ page on Tuesday.
 
The comments follow a report in the Washington Post last week that the NSA had gained access to an overseas cable or switch that relayed Google and Yahoo Inc traffic through an unnamed telecommunications provider. The report is the latest revelation based on secret NSA documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden.
 
Hearn, whose profile on the Google+ website lists him as a Zurich-based software engineer who has worked at Google since 2006, said in the post that he had worked on an “anti-hacking system” at Google for two years.
 
“We designed this system to keep criminals out. There's no ambiguity here,” Hearn wrote. “Bypassing that system is illegal for a good reason,” he said, noting that the judicial system of warrants and rules of evidence provided an effective and time-honored way to prevent crime while limiting excessive intrusions into privacy.
 
The strident comments echo those last week by Brandon Downey, who identified himself as a network security engineer on his personal Google+ Web page.
 
“Even though we suspected this was happening, it still makes me terribly sad,” Downey wrote. “The US has to be better than this,” he said in a post.
 
A person close to the company confirmed that Hearn and Downey are Google employees.
 
Both Hearn, who personally thanked Snowden in his post, and Downey said they were voicing their personal opinions and not speaking on behalf of Google. Google declined to comment on their postings.
 
Google, the world's No.1 internet search engine, said last week that it was “outraged” by the government's actions and called for urgent reform.
 
The internet company has faced its own criticism about intercepting data in the past, most notably when it acknowledged in 2010 that a fleet of cars it operates to map the world's streets had mistakenly collected passwords and other personal data from home consumers' wireless networks over a two year-period.
 
The newly disclosed NSA program, operated jointly with the United Kingdom's Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, amassed 181 million records in one recent 30-day span, according to one document reported by the Post. It could not be learned how much of that included material from U.S. residents, how the agency redacted data on them or how much of the information was retained.
 
An NSA spokesperson said in a statement last week that the suggestion in the Post article that the agency relies on a presidential order on foreign intelligence gathering to skirt domestic restrictions imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and other laws “is not true.”
 
“The assertion that we collect vast quantities of U.S. persons' data from this type of collection is also not true,” the statement said. “NSA is a foreign intelligence agency. And we're focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only.”

You May Like

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid