Ever since news of PRISM broke, there’s been a lot of confusion and denial about exactly how the NSA is getting your information from the companies that have been collecting it. Now Google’s fessed up to the details, and it’s unsurprisingly simple: by FTP or even by hand.
Google spokesman Chris Gaither revealed the details to Wired, still resisting any accusations of allowing direct access to servers. But that line’s a little bit easier to swallow in light of an actual explanation of how it really works. It seems that Google has a special server dropbox for the NSA — technically a company server — where requested and approved files are placed to be taken by the NSA via secure FTP. Or sometimes printed records are delivered by hand.
How much data passes through this hand-off process isn’t known, although Google’s asked for permission to talk about it. And the search giant does say it’s been asked to give the NSA a little more, but has refused. If Google owns the dropbox servers, then this system lines up with what we know from the PRISM slides, although a bit more metered than the term “direct access” seems to suggest. We can only hope to find out a little more about how this works down the line.
We can’t stop the data from taking its trip, but it would at least be nice to know how it’s travelling. [Wired]