A great dialog has been occurring in the comments of this followup post on Google and the CIA (Original post here). Google’s official response was brief (along the lines of ‘oh puhhhlleeease!’), and one of the commentators asked if I would shoot Google a follow up question, to wit:
“Has Google released search-related information to any branch of the government, or government subcontractors?”
I sent this query to the fellow who works on these issues for Google communications. I expected his reply to be predictable – Google has to follow the law after all – but here it is for your benefit:
As you know, we comply with valid legal processes such as subpoenas but do not discuss the details of these requests publicly. Related to Steele’s assertions, we provide our enterprise systems to government agencies but there is no data sharing. These relationships are the same as with our customers in the private sector – they plug the appliance in and it provides search for their Intranet or website. The point of the statement we provided was to convey that neither responding to valid legal processes or selling search appliances are anything that could even be remotely interpreted as being “in bed with the CIA.”
What can we take away from all this? Well, I think it’s a good bet that Google is getting plenty of “valid legal requests,” but it won’t verify that it does. In fact, under Patriot, it would break the law to do so. This is the shit I have been on about for a very, very long time.