Tip of the Hat: Are advocates unfairly piling on Google for NSA emails

<i>Forbes</i>' Woollacott says leaked emails don't prove Google 'was all that tight with the NSA'

Since Al Jazeera America posted copies of emails between Google executives and National Security Agency officials on Tuesday, online criticism of the the Internet firm has spread quickly.

Privacy advocates say the email exchanges between NSA director General Keith Alexander and Google executives Eric Schmidt and Sergey Brin suggest a closer-than-previously-thought relationship between the three, and some close cooperation on efforts to access personal data.

The emails were dated before Edward Snowden released stolen classified documents last year that revealed the NSA spy program was far more expansive than previously thought, and before Schmidt blasted the agency for violating the privacy of Americans.

But, notes Forbes contributor Emma Woollacott, there's not nearly enough information in the missives to conclude that Google worked with the NSA to gather personal information on Americans.

Woollacott gets a Tip of the Hat from Computerworld for providing a counterpoint in her evenhanded story, Why Shouldn't Google Discuss Security With The NSA?. As she notes, "Given that the email exchanges took place months *before* the revelation that Google's communications were being tapped - which the company claims it didn't know - there's no earthly reason why it shouldn't take part in a national security initiative."

Until and unless more information emerges, she notes, it's hard to blame Google for helping the NSA violate privacy rights.

Read more about privacy in Computerworld's Privacy Topic Center.

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