Google-NSA Secrets Can Stay That Way, Judge Rules

Spy agency won't confirm or deny its dealings with Google

It might sound like tilting at windmills, but a privacy organization says it will appeal a federal judge's ruling that the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA) doesn't have to disclose its relationship with Google, or for that matter whether it has or ever has had such a relationship.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) began its quest for information following press reports that the NSA and Google had formed a partersnhip of some kind after hackers in China launched a cyber attack on the U.S. government in January 2010.

EPIC first filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking any documents that would reveal whether NSA and Google were developing technical standards that would enable greater surveillance of Internet users.

Not surprisingly, NSA denied the request, saying it could neither confirm nor deny that any such documents existed.

Appeal promised

EPIC said it plans to appeal the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon, noting NSA's argument that revealing a relationship with Google could dissuade other companies from working with the agency in the future.

"This is a serious concern which … warrants finding for the NSA," Leon wrote.

EPIC says it is also seeking information from the NSA about Internet vulnerability assessments and its private findings on how its practices impact Internet privacy. EPIC also wants details about the NSA's "Perfect Citizen" program.

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