Google has consistently tried to make themselves look like they are forced to cooperate with the NSA and that they aren’t participating in the NSA’s programs to monitor the general population, but Al Jazeera America has obtained documents via the Freedom of Information Act that show a fairly close level of cooperation between Google and the NSA. Sure, the documents obtained by Al Jazeera don’t show any sort of cooperating ‘smoking gun’ but they do show that the NSA does work fairly closely with Google on National Security measures that might affect the security of Google and ultimately the security of the USA. In the letters, Keith Alexander is communicating with Sergey Brin through Eric Schmidt about meeting up in San Jose at a secure location to be briefed about security threats to Google and the US back in 2012, pre Edward Snowden. And if you read Eric Schmidt’s response to Keith Alexander, he clearly seems to have a very relaxed and familiar relationship with the head of the NSA, Keith Alexander.
He then gets a reply from Brin explaining that it isn’t his primary email but rather to communicate with him at another email address that he actually checks often. He is asking Brin to join an 18 CEO steering group that would help the NSA address security issues more effectively without issue, however the details of the documents themselves are very vague (intentionally) and are clearly designed to make the NSA’s mission to appear to be defensive security-based rather than offensive security based like the PRISM program. That program, Google claims, they had no awareness of, and that the NSA had effectively been doing behind everyone’s backs. So, either the NSA is working with these companies at the same time as working behind their backs, or there’s a level of cooperating that we’re not aware of and that the companies aren’t willing to admit.
For Google’s sake, we really hope its just the NSA being douchebags and not being forthcoming with exactly what they’re doing, which wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Its just that Google’s relationship with the NSA appears to be closer than they’ve led on, and there has been no mention of Google cooperating with the NSA on this ESF (enduring security framework).