Google and other technology giants were working far more closely with the NSA government than originally thought, if a set of uncovered internal emails are to be believed.
Al Jazeera has posted an email correspondence between NSA director General Keith Alexander and Google's Eric Schmidt and Sergey Brin discussing cooperation with the company on an industry security framework.
The emails, dated January and June of 2012, discuss participation from Google in the NSA's Enduring Security Framework (ESF) program. According to the email from Alexander to Schmidt, Google was one of a handful of Silicon Valley companies who were invited to a briefing with the NSA on the effort to "coordinate government/industry actions on important (generally classified) security issues that couldn't be solved by individual actors alone."
In the pitch, Alexander notes that the project played a role in the deployment of measures to protect against the BIOS attack plot on US computer systems. The NSA was later found to be using its own BIOS-level malware to target systems.
Schmidt responded that he would be unable to attend the meeting, but invited Alexander to meet up at a later time.
In the exchange with Brin, dated January 13, Alexander thanks the Google cofounder for attending an ESF Steering Group meeting which discussed threats facing the industry and strategy for mitigation techniques.
The company has yet to respond to a request for comment on the report.
The correspondence suggests that Google was working closer with the NSA than the company had originally let on. Shortly after the leak of the first payload of documents on the PRISM program, Google publicly spoke up against government surveillance, with Schmidt personally condemning the NSA when it was alleged that the agency had tapped Google's internal data centers.
Al Jazeera's report is not the first indication that Google was cozying up to the US government prior to the Edward Snowden revelations. In March, a former NSA general counsel said that the company and other web giants had "full knowledge" of the PRISM surveillance system, and were willingly providing the government with intelligence. ®