Eric Schmidt Claims Google Considered Moving Its Servers Out Of The US To Avoid The NSA

from the that-would-be-big dept

We’ve been hearing more and more reports that many folks within Google are incredibly angry over the NSA’s activities, some of which has bubbled up already. There have been some questions, though, about whether those attitudes go all the way up the management chain, so it’s interesting to see Google’s chairman, Eric Schmidt, now claiming that the company actually considered taking all its servers out of the US in the wake of the NSA revelations.

Google, the giant of the Internet, thought about moving its servers out of the U.S. after the NSA debacle, said Eric Schmidt, the company’s chairman, on Friday at the Paley International Council Summit in New York.

“Actually, we thought about that and there are many, many reasons why it’s impossible for Google to leave the United States, although it’s attractive,” Schmidt said.

“But the reason it’s an interesting idea is because American firms are subject to these rules, the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] rules, Patriot Act and so forth, and this government surveillance is really a problem.”

Of course, what Google probably realized is that, once out of the US, the NSA actually has more powers to spy on anything with basically no oversight. At least in the US, there are some (if minimal) restrictions, and there are at least some ways to fight back. Still, it would be quite a statement for a company like Google to make that kind of a move, and again would highlight just how much of a bad business impact all this NSA spying can have on American companies.

The real question is how much will Google continue to do in response to these revelations. Many, many people don’t trust the company, and taking a strong stand to protect its users privacy and to push back against government surveillance is going to be necessary, or the company runs a real risk of driving many people to other services that promise to be more secure.

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Companies: google

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Comments on “Eric Schmidt Claims Google Considered Moving Its Servers Out Of The US To Avoid The NSA”

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40 Comments
Anonymoose says:

Re: Liar liar pants on fire

I directly recall seeing google want ads on Craigslist in early 2002 for engineers with TS/SCI security clearances.

That was the last time I used them for anything. Pretty clear this was all going to happen, even then.

Google has a marketing problem. They’re blind to the behavioral problem that created it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Depends on the degree and how they want to assure it.

EU is not too bad for avoiding NSAs direct surveillance. When that is said, the intelligence agencies are worse on some areas than NSA in several EU countries.

Southern America would be OK even though NSA has quite some surveillance there.

South East Asian countries may be willing to accomodate them, but the internet-connections to the rest of the world is generally lacking there.

India and South Korea has some positives and some negatives.

Ultimately it is impossible to avoid surveillance and if they find a way, there will be laws incoming to stop that way.

What Schmidt is saying is completely meaningless. Even though he may be right about them discussing it, Google cannot do anything to stop the problem and therefore his words cannot be but empty drivel to satisfy people who do not look deep enough to see his bluff.

The Real Michael says:

Re: Ability

They’ve spent billions of dollars on two wars, DHS, TSA, and everything inbetween, yet what have they accomplished? Why does the solution to every problem, every breach of security, involve strengthening government and treating the general public like a bunch of would-be criminals? The government was informed years in advance by Russian intel about the Boston bombers yet sat on their hands doing nothing. That has to tell you something.

Anonymous Coward says:

There’s a few companies I no longer trust due to the NSA. Some I can do something about, some I can’t.

I block Google at every point I can on my machine. Have for a long time. I don’t like ads, whether with nice pictures or served up in the results. If I were looking for ads, Google might be great. I use none of it’s services. When places atttempt to force you into having some sort of account like Google plus (whatever that is) I drop those services as well.

What I don’t do, is play troll on places about Google. Were this not part of the topic of the article, I wouldn’t be saying diddly.

Blaise Alleyne (profile) says:

Google's products rely on surveillance

There’s a lot Google can and should do to resist government surveillance, but Google’s products themselves rely on centralized surveillance for their features. You don’t get Google personalization or contextual ads or a useful Google Now without signing up for some pretty comprehensive surveillance of your online activities (and the more surveillance you sign up for, the better Google services are at what they do).

Now, there’s a big difference between signing up or opting in to Google surveillance as a Google user versus having the government step in and scoop up all that data behind the scenes (Google users are giving their data to Google, but their not intentionally giving it to the NSA), and that’s where there’s a lot that Google can and should do… but the whole Google experience is based on user surveillance. It’s no wonder that kind of centralized, surveillance-based infrastructure is going to become a target for overreaching governments.

The real safeguards and solutions that interest me aren’t more secure surveillance-based systems, but decentralized, user-controlled services that don’t have that giant, central data store that needs safeguarding in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

two things Google have got so wrong and only themselves to blame for are that it doesn’t stick up for customers and it doesn’t fight for customers, in any way, against the entertainment industries. although there may well be millions of customers that use Google, to continuously turn their back on them is very bad business. the entertainment industries have colluded to have Google and others do certain jobs for them at their own expense and at the risk of losing those same customers. the entertainment industries have already lost those customers so dont care which other companies lose them as well. Google would have done well to try to hang on to them, as they are the ones that supply the cash!

Paraquat (profile) says:

Google should move

The best thing that Google could do is move outside the USA. Doing so would not absolutely prevent the NSA from spying on their customers, but it would make it a lot easier for them to avoid secret subpoenas that they can’t talk about thanks to the Patriot Act. If Google chooses a country that does not have software patents, it would relieve them of that worry. Plus it would also be a public relations coup if they moved and stated the reason(s).

Maybe such a move would even have a sobering effect on the US government when it finally sinks in that America’s obnoxious behavior is driving away big business. Nothing speaks louder in the halls of Congress than money.

If Google does move, they’ll have to choose their new location carefully. They should scratch from their list any country that signs up for the TPP (assuming that obnoxious “trade agreement” actually passes). Actually, if Google is considering one of those countries that is negotiating TPP, they might do us all a favor by letting them know in advance that joining the TPP will eliminate their chance of getting the Google server farm.

Well, I’m dreaming. But it’s a nice dream.

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