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Google Says It's Beefed Up Encryption Because Of NSA Revelations

A Google data center in Changhua, Taiwan.
Sam Yeh
AFP/Getty Images
A Google data center in Changhua, Taiwan.

Google announced on Thursday that it has beefed up its security in response to reports that the National Security Agency was scooping up data from its servers.

In a statement, Nicolas Lidzborski, Gmail security engineering lead, says Google is now encrypting data as a it moves between the company's servers and every session of Gmail will now use a secure HTTPS connection.

If you remember, back in November, The Washington Post reported that the NSA intercepted electronic traffic sent by Yahoo and Google to their respective data centers around the globe. The NSA, as you might imagine, would want to do this, because the data used to move between servers in a raw format. That means the NSA wouldn't have to work to decrypt anything.

In the statement, Lidzborski said Google made securing data as it moved between servers a "top priority after last summer's revelations."

Of course, this statement comes just a day after the top lawyer for the NSA told the government's civil liberties watchdog panel that his agency was collecting data with the "full knowledge and assistance of any company from which information is obtained."

"Prism was an internal government term that as the result of leaks became the public term," Rajesh De said,according to The Guardian. "Collection under this program was a compulsory legal process, that any recipient company would receive."

Google and other tech companies have vehemently denied that the U.S. government was granted access to its servers.

As we reported, Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt called the alleged snooping "outrageous."

"It's really outrageous that the National Security Agency was looking between the Google data centers, if that's true. The steps that the organization was willing to do without good judgment to pursue its mission and potentially violate people's privacy, it's not OK," Schmidt told The Wall Street Journal. "The Snowden revelations have assisted us in understanding that it's perfectly possible that there are more revelations to come."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.