Google CEO Page: U.S. gov't doesn't have direct access to our servers

Summary:Google isn't alone in trying to clear its name in whatever way possible following the firestorm that erupted on Thursday afternoon.

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Google CEO Larry Page published a letter on Friday afternoon with what he described as "the facts" about the Internet giant's relationship with the classified "PRISM" project.

To recall, according to reports from the Washington Post and the Guardian this week, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been secretly mining user data from the central servers at nine major Silicon Valley companies.

That group consists of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple, and video chat room community PalTalk.

Apparently Dropbox was slated to be the next one added to the list.

But Page asserted that Google has never heard of the U.S. government program PRISM, reiterating the Mountain View, Calif.-based company's policies for handling government requests.

Here's an excerpt, co-signed with Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond:

Second, we provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don’t follow the correct process. 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.

Google isn't alone in trying to clear its name in whatever way possible following the firestorm that erupted on Thursday afternoon.

Apple came out on the defensive first, declaring it had never even heard of the PRISM project. Facebook and Microsoft also denied any involvement or a "back door" for U.S. government agencies.

Nevertheless, President Obama ( following suit from other government officials ) has spoken out in defense of the program, asking the American people to trust that the data is being used for national security purposes.

Topics: Government : US, Big Data, Google, Legal, Privacy

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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