Google, in an effort to put a better defense system in place following cyberattacks on the company's infrastructure late last year, is partnering with the federal government to better protect itself, according to a report in today's Washington Post.
The Post, citing unnamed sources, said that the National Security Agency would help Google analyze the December attacks to prevent them from happening again in the future. The Post's report also stressed that a partnership "doesn't mean that the NSA will be viewing users' searches or e-mail accounts or that Google will be sharing proprietary data."
The deal is still being finalized, sources told The Post. Still, it's already making some experts a bit squeamish, concerned about the balance of information sharing between a company like Google and the federal government.
I have to admit that I feel the same way - squeamish.
In part, this is troublesome because a dark cloud over the NSA was born under a different political climate, one where there was widespread distrust about the government's intrusion into private lives, with any sort of poaching of individual rights hiding under the "We're fighting a war against terror" argument.
Secondly, this bothers me because Google is turning to the government for help in protecting the infrastructure. I mean no disrespect to my country or my government but I have to ask: Is Washington really the best choice if you're looking for help with something as serious as cyber security. After all, I wouldn't exactly place any Washington agency at the cutting edge when it comes to fighting what was referred to as one of the most sophisticated cyber attacks experts had ever seen.
I'd be willing to bet that Google, as well as other tech companies in Silicon Valley, are far better equipped for fighting a technological war with a country such as China. And let's be honest about it. This is a war of technology, one where the targets of an attack have to be one technological step ahead of the cyber bad guys.
Is Google really putting the security of my personal information into the hands of the federal government for safekeeping? I certainly hope not. If I were a business considering making a move to Google's cloud-based applications to manage my critical data, I might be forced to think twice if I knew Google was relying on the government for advice on how to keep it safe - regardless of whether or not the company was actually sharing the data with the feds.
It just doesn't feel right.
Also see: Special Report: China, Google showdown