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The NSA can spy on Google and more

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The National Security Agency is under no obligation to disclose the nature of its relationship with Google, confirmed a Washington D.C. federal appeals court on 11 May 2012.

A three-judge panel ruled that in view of NSA’s special status, any arrangement with the Internet giant can remain secret.

"Any information relating to the relationship between Google and NSA would reveal proprietary information about the NSA", decreed Judge Janice Rogers Brown.

This decision came in response to a request filed by an association that advocates for online privacy rights. The Information Center Electronic Private data (EPIC) wanted the agreements between Google and the NSA to be made public, on behalf of citizens’ right to know whether they are being monitored.

Officially, the partnership between the two parties is designed to detect Google’s weaknesses in the face of hackers and to assess their degree of sophistication as well as to determine if the defenses put in place are adequate. But advocates for privacy rights fear that this secret deal exposes users to the violation of their personal data.

In reality, all users of Google services around the world are likely to have their data lifted by the U.S. spy agency. As revealed by German magazine WirtschaftsWoche, Google has long been under pressure to transmit its user data to U.S. intelligence.

Like all U.S. firms, the Mountain View company is legally compelled, under the "anti-terrorist" Patriot Act, to disclose its data to the authorities, in particular the National Security Agency.

Housing servers on European soil does not guarantee the confidentiality of such data vis-à-vis the U.S. government, which has "the right to also access data stored outside of the United States." [1]

Similarly, the NSA has full access to Windows user data, the agency having worked directly with Microsoft to develop Windows 7, as was recognized officially by Richard Schaeffer on 17 November 2009. [2]

In order to process the mass of data to which it has access, the NSA is building the biggest-ever spy and computer data storage center in the world (100 000m ²), to be completed in 2013 and located in the Utah mountains. [3]

NSA’s aim is to break into complex mathematical shells like the AES (Advanced Encryption Standard or Advanced Encryption Standard). This encryption algorithm currently protects financial transactions, emails multinationals, economic agreements and international diplomatic exchanges.

In sum, NSA will be shortly in a position to intercept, store, analyze and decipher all global internet traffic.

[1] Google-Server in Europa vor US-Regierung nicht sicher, by Thomas Stölzel, WirtschaftsWoche, 6 August 2011.

[2] “NSA took part in the development of Windows 7,” Voltaire Network, 25 November 2009.

[3] "The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)," by James Bamford, WIRED, 15 March 2012.

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