Google CEO Larry Page took to the official Google blog to deny allegations that the company was voluntarily providing direct access to the US government to all manner of user data.Reports from several publications made the claim that Google, along with eight other major US internet companies, were part of a surveillance program dubbed PRISM through which the NSA and the FBI had access to any user data they needed.
Seven of the nine companies denied granting the government direct access and some even denied any knowledge of just such a program.
Still, the doubts lingered, especially in the light of the reveal that Verizon was providing the US government with the phone records of all of its customers.
But Larry Page denies that Google is in any way involved with surveillance on this level.
"First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a 'back door' to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday," Larry Page said.
"Second, we provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don’t follow the correct process," he added.
"Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users' data are false, period," he said.
Since publishing the original article, based on a leaked slide from the NSA, the Washington Post added some clarifications which may indicate that the companies named are not voluntarily providing all this data, knowingly at least.
But the government hasn't denied the existence of the PRISM or made any comments on the data it is able to gather. So, if the government is getting this data, which seems true, it must be getting it through someone else.
In the end, as Larry Page concluded, this episode once again highlights the need for transparency in these matters from the US government.