Google steps up efforts to make internet surveillance more difficult

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Search engine giant Google has announced that it is in the process of making user activity across the internet much more complex to survey.

One of the biggest names on the World Wide Web has revealed that it is looking at ways to better encrypt the information that travels from one of its data centres to another across the globe.

Google’s plan is aimed mainly at governments, following revelations in the past few months that the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US has been involved in significant internet surveillance strategies.

The storm began when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden handed over documents detailing the revelations to news media.

According to the data, both the NSA and the FBI had been found to have obtained information directly from the central servers of nine well-known companies – Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, YouTube, Skype, PalTalk and, of course, Google.

The material gathered ranged from extracts of video and audio chats to emails, photographs and connection logs. Analysts were then able to use all this information to track foreign targets, The Washington Post reported back in June.

Before long, the whistle-blower’s move had led to more of the world’s biggest newspapers, including The Guardian and The New York Times, covering the issue in depth.

However, it was the nine companies who had been targeted which were encouraged to do more – from a legal standing, of course – to show that they were determined to protect the information of their customers.

Commenting on how Google is approaching the backlash, Eric Grosse, the search engine giant’s vice president of security engineering, told The Washington Post: “It’s an arms race. We see these government agencies as among the most skilled players in this game.”

Kevin Bocek, vice president of product marketing for certificate management agency Venafi, is confident that Google has taken a step in the right direction to regain faith from its customers.

“This is a business strategy. A large part of Google’s business is about [customer] trust,” he explained to CSOonline.

However, Christopher Soghoian is a bit sceptical about just how far Google can go to make internet surveillance more difficult to perform.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s computer security expert warned: “If the NSA wants to get into your system, they are going to get in … most of the people in my community are realistic about that.

“This is all about making dragnet surveillance impossible.”

 

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