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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An Investigation Into Communication Between NSA and Google

A PDF file published at contains, according to its description, the “NSA [US National Security Agency] administrative processing file for FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request for records on Google and contracts With Google”. I asked Seth Finkelstein of the Infothought blog about this set of documents. He only glanced it over but here’s what he’s making of it:

I don’t see any *particularly* deep meaning or implications in the file. It seems pretty dull. It’s a “Freedom Of Information Act” case file. The Freedom Of Information Act is a US law that allows people to request certain information from the US government. Journalists and activists typically make those requests. Sometimes those requests uncover interesting things, but sometimes they just yield boring bureaucratic documents.

Here’s what it’s about:

1) Journalist asks the NSA for ALL material about their connections with Google, under the Freedom Of Information Act.

2) NSA responds to journalist that it can tell the journalist that the NSA has bought some search appliances and a support contract from Google, and can send the journalist the contract documentation about buying those items.

This, frankly, strikes me as pretty dull.

3) Google (as a party affected by the request for documents) objects that the price for the search appliances and hourly consulting rate for the service contract and other details are proprietary business information and shouldn’t be made public.

See around page 22

4) Lots of discussion between the NSA document office and Google as to what specific items are public or private.

See around page 65

5) NSA sends journalist the contract, with redactions per #4 – for around two million dollars, NSA bought four Google search appliances, two-years replacement warranty on all of them, and 100 hours of consulting support.

See page 74 and on.


Maybe the deeper meaning and implication was that the only thing the NSA was willing to tell the journalist was that it had bought a few Google search appliances, and claimed everything else was classified and not to be released under the Freedom Of Information Act law.

[Thanks Anonymous!]


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