Google dawdle - Eric Schmidt says company has 'complained at great length' about NSA intrusion

The Boardroom

by Ben Sullivan| 23 January 2014

Denies knowledge of NSA tapping.

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has maintained that he had no knowledge of the NSA's snooping of Google's data, despite the fact that he has a high enough security clearance to have been told.

He went on to say how other members of Google are outraged at the NSA tapping, and that they have "complained at great length" to the US government.

Schmidt then claimed that the search engine company has been encrypting internal traffic to prevent further spying since the news broke last June.

Schmidt was speaking at a private session held by The Guardian newspaper, and was quoted as saying:

"I have the necessary clearances to have been told, as do other executives in the company, but none of us were briefed.

"Had we been briefed, we probably couldn't have acted on it, because we'd have known about it. I've declined briefings [from the US government] about this because I don't want to be constrained."

He also insisted on a pardon for Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower that originally exposed the NSA and GCHQ spying programmes.

"Had this information not come to light, we would not have been able to [stop the NSA spying]. I can understand the position he felt," said Schmidt.

"But on the question of whether Snowden should be pardoned or jailed, he said: "I don't think it's so obvious one way or the other."

Schmidt said that the number of requests for data filed by the NSA is small: "It's illegal to notify the public how many requests we get; we've filed suit to release the aggregate number. You can imagine why."

Image courtesy Guillaume Paumier, CC-BY.

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