How does Google deliver court-ordered data to the government? FTP transfers, it turns out

How does Google deliver court-ordered data to the government? FTP transfers, it turns out

Google recently provided new notes to Wired on how it complies with court-mandated requests for information. According to the company’s Chris Gaither, in a rather mundane fashion: “When required to comply with these requests, we deliver that information to the US government — generally through secure FTP transfers and in person.”

He went on to state, again, that Google provides no direct access to its servers for the Federal Government: “The US government does not have the ability to pull that data directly from our servers or network.”

When the PRISM story first broke, the Washington Post first stated that PRISM provided direct server access. Slides leaked concerning the program made such allegations reasonable. One slide, pasted below, contained the phrase “direct access,” relating to PRISM:



Google has been the most stridently vocal about how that slide is incorrect. As noted above, Google plainly denies providing any such access.

That is all somewhat old hat. However, Gaither told Wired something that we did not know, that is more than interesting. Chew on the following:

We refuse to participate in any program — for national security or other reasons — that requires us to provide governments with access to our systems or to install their equipment on our networks […] We have been asked to do things in the past and we have declined.

Google is a global company, one with offices, servers, and staff across the world; I point that out to indicate that it might not be the United States government – or at least not only, depending – that has asked Google for a more direct form of access.

Google, Facebook, and Microsoft each requested today that they be allowed to better disclose certain FISA-based information requests to their users and the public at large. We’ll see what happens next.

Top Image Credit: Robert Scoble

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