Google executives talk Snowden and NSA backdoors during AMA

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Google Reddit AMA – Senior members of Google’s public policy team took to Reddit today to discuss the company’s stance on government surveillance reform and the pending expiration of Section 215 of the Patriot Act that allows for the bulk collection of phone records. Google’s director for law enforcement and information security, Richard Salgado and David Lieber, its senior privacy policy counsel took part in the discussion. Judging by the responses, the AMA didn’t start as smoothly as they probably hoped. The very first answer about Google being hacked by individuals in China in 2009 seemed extremely canned and prompted the reply, “that is a non-answer. Did the PR team type it up for you?” After that, the answers got a bit more genuine.

 

They called the federal appeals court ruling that Section 215 doesn’t give the NSA authorization to collect phone records in bulk “great news” and reiterated that Google does not build backdoors into its services and does not have a surveillance portal. When asked about Edward Snowden and his actions — which include leaking data the inferred that Google does have a surveillance portal — Lieber wrote: “too much of the debate around Snowden has focused on whether he’s a hero or traitor. It’s fair to say that we would not be having this debate without Snowden’s disclosures.”

Lieber also noted that some government officials have “expressed concerns” about Google’s deployment and use of end-to-end encryption. But that the company is doing so to safeguard its customers against identify theft.

 

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