Google’s executive chairman Erc Schmidt has publicly rebuked the NSA over recent revelations the US spy agency has tapped the company’s international data cables to conduct surveillance on hundreds of millions of people around the world, including most of the American Internet user base. He has registered formal complaints with the NSA and members of Congress. His statements turn up the heat on an ever-widening public sphere investigation of the NSA’s digital mass spying activities.
“The NSA allegedly collected the phone records of 320 million people in order to identify roughly 300 people who might be a risk,” Schmidt told the Washington Post. “It’s just bad public policy, and perhaps illegal. There clearly are cases where evil people exist, but you don’t have to violate the privacy of every single citizen of America to find them.”
His statements follow last week’s Snowden papers analysis diagramming how the NSA taps Google’s and Yahoo’s data center connections to collect and collate data. The statements are a more formal, higher-up version of the “explosion of profanity” by unnamed Google employees who were shown the diagrams. Clearly Google is siding with the public on this one, unlike its position on CISPA, a bill that would grant large telecommunications companies immunity for cooperating with the government on other data spying programs.
In the same interview, Schmidt reiterated his position on Chinese data spying and appealed to North Korea to open up the Internet. “China’s censorship regime has gotten significantly worse since we left so something would have to change before we come back,” he said. He was referring to Google’s 2011 move out of China and into Hong Kong over differing privacy philosophies. As for North Korea, “They need the Internet for electronic commerce and for business,” he said.