Using Google

National Security Agency (NSA) has caused a lot of stir since the leaks made by Edward J. Snowden that it has been spying on the home front in the United States (US) and abroad. The leaks caused an uproar and put many corporations, including Google, in an awkward position to assure users of its many services that it will take appropriate actions to keep their data safe from NSA and others. In a recent statement, Google has announced that its flagship email service, Gmail, will always use HTTPS connections.

“Starting today, Gmail will always use an encrypted HTTPS connection when you check or send email.”

Gmail engineering security chief, Nicolas Lidzborski, stated in a blog post that email is important to the users and making sure that it is safe for them is important for Google. The change will be effective on all communications that Gmail uses, including public WiFi networks, and on all devices: computers, phones, and tablets.

The company has been using HTTPS as the default connection for Gmail since 2010 but the users had an option to turn it off. From this Friday, it will not be possible and all communications will be HTTPS-based only.

Yahoo and Google’s internal networks were breached and millions of records were stored at NSA’s Fort Meade, Maryland headquarters, according to a secret report written in January 2013. The operations to tap into these networks is done by NSA in cooperation with the British version of NSA, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). They acquired data by fishing it while it was being sent between data centers around the planet via fiber internet cables. Then the data was sent to experts to decrypt it if it was encrypted. Thus, providing them an opportunity to look at millions of private user information in real time as is revealed by documents seen by Washington Post.

NSA told recently to a civil liberties oversight group that the companies, like Google and Facebook, had direct knowledge that the data was been collected by NSA. A statement, which has been denied by Google CEO Larry Page on Thursday while answering questions at TED in Vancouver. He said:

“For me, it’s tremendously disappointing that the government sort of secretly did all these things and didn’t tell us,”

“I don’t think we can have a democracy if we’re having to protect you and our users from the government for stuff that we never had a conversation about.”

Earlier in November, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt termed these NSA operations as outrageous, illegal and “it’s not OK”.




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