The Good and Bad of a Google-NSA Partnership

Lora Bentley

The buzzworthy story of the week appears to be Google's decision to partner with the National Security Agency. The move comes after the search behemoth found itself the target of a "supersophisticated hack attack," according to Wired. After the hack, of course, which was believed to be the work of the Chinese government, Google decided to consider pulling out of China rather than bow to the communist regime's disregard for every human's right to freedom of expression.


On one hand, the Google-NSA partnership makes sense, given the NSA is known to employ the best of the best in "network warfare," Wired writer Noah Schachtman writes. But on the other, the deal might be the death of Google simply because the NSA is also known for spying on "everyone," which does not seem to go hand in hand with Google's "Do no evil" mantra.


Schachtman writes:

The company pinkie-swears that its agreement with the NSA won't violate the company's privacy policies or compromise user data. Those promises are a little hard to believe, given the NSA's track record of getting private enterprises to cooperate [in spying], and Google's willingness to take this first step.

In fact, Computerworld reports the Electronic Privacy Information Center is concerned enough about the alliance it has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for more details on what it will entail. The group also filed a lawsuit against the NSA and the National Security Council, seeking "more information about the NSA's authority over the security of U.S. computer networks."


However, over at CTO Edge, my colleague Wayne Rash takes another view of the arrangement. He writes:

Despite objections from naysayers and anti-government groups, this is a necessary and a welcome step....The reason the NSA is right to be involved is that the attack on Google is really an attack on an important U.S. interest. It provides vital search functions to anyone who asks, and it does this with some of the best search technology available to anyone. It performs a significant commercial activity in global e-commerce...

Like so many things, one's opinion on these issues depends entirely on how one chooses to look at the situation.

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