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Fri May 11, 2012, 01:27 PM

Court Rules NSA Doesn't Have to Reveal Its Semi-Secret Relationship With Google [View all]

Source: Forbes

Andy Greenberg, Forbes Staff

SECURITY | 5/11/2012 @ 12:30PM |1,271 views

Court Rules NSA Doesn't Have To Reveal Its Semi-Secret Relationship With Google
If the world’s largest surveillance agency has a working relationship with the world’s largest Internet firm, that’s no one’s business but theirs, according to an appeals court in the DC Circuit.

In the ruling issued Friday, (PDF here ) the court decided that the National Security Agency doesn’t need to either confirm or deny its relationship with Google in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, ruling that a FOIA exemption covers any documents whose exposure might hinder the NSA’s national security mission. Beyond merely rejecting the FOIA request, the court has agreed with the NSA that it has the right to simply not respond to the request, as even a rejection of the request might reveal details of a suspected relationship with Google that it has sought to keep secret.

“If NSA disclosed whether there are (or are not) records of a partnership or communications between Google and NSA regarding Google’s security, that disclosure might reveal whether NSA investigated the threat, deemed the threat a concern to the security of U.S. Government information systems, or took any measures in response to the threat,” the court’s ruling read. “As such, any information pertaining to the relationship between Google and NSA would reveal protected information about NSA’s implementation of its Information Assurance mission.”

Since just after Google revealed in early 2010 that it had been hacked by cyberspies seemingly based in China, the Washington Post reported that Google and the NSA had partnered to help bolster the company’s defenses against future attacks. NSA director Mike McConnell followed up with an op-ed in the Post, which included a statement that a partnership with Google was “inevitable.”

Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2012/05/11/court-rules-nsa-doesnt-have-to-reveal-its-semi-secret-relationship-with-google

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