MOUNTAIN VIEW – The U.S. government does not have either direct or “back door” access to the information Google collects on its users, Google CEO Larry Page wrote on the company’s blog Friday.
Page and Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, also wrote that they had not heard of the U.S. government’s top secret and controversial data-collecting PRISM program until Thursday, when the news of its existence broke.
In response to government requests for Google data, Google’s legal team “frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don’t follow the correct process,” Page and Drummond wrote. “Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users’ data are false, period. Until this week’s reports, we had never heard of the broad type of order that Verizon received—an order that appears to have required them to hand over millions of users’ call records. We were very surprised to learn that such broad orders exist. Any suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.
“Finally, this episode confirms what we have long believed—there needs to be a more transparent approach. Google has worked hard, within the confines of the current laws, to be open about the data requests we receive. We post this information on our Transparency Report whenever possible. We were the first company to do this. And, of course, we understand that the U.S. and other governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety—including sometimes by using surveillance. But the level of secrecy around the current legal procedures undermines the freedoms we all cherish.”