Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Google’s David Drummond Q&A on NSA: Same Denials, a Little More Human

david_drummundTrust doesn’t come back easily, but Google is trying. Following a Q&A by NSA document leaker Edward Snowden yesterday, Google chief legal officer David Drummond took a selection of public questions about user data protection today on the Guardian.

Whatever you believe about PRISM, you have to admit that Drummond is in a bit of a pickle. Yesterday, Google formally filed to disclose statistics about the secret FISA requests it receives — while noting that it could not confirm or deny it received such requests.

Addressing the space in between secret government programs and Google’s carefully worded denials, Drummond swore up and down that Google is “not in cahoots with the NSA.”

“There is no free-for-all, no direct access, no indirect access, no back door, no drop box,” he wrote.

Drummond didn’t say anything we hadn’t heard before, but he seemed to be making an effort to be a little more human, leaving fewer holes in his phrasing for skeptics to carefully parse.

For instance:

We’re not in the business of lying and we’re absolutely telling the truth about all of this. Our business depends on the trust of our users. And I’m an executive officer of a large publicly traded company, so lying to the public wouldn’t be the greatest career move.

And:

If by what has now been “revealed” you mean the allegation that Google is allowing the NSA unfettered access to user data or that we’re handing over data willy-nilly to the government, again, that’s just not true. It’s not rhetoric, it’s just a fact.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus