Google, a known NSA collaborator, has done its very best to muddy the waters about its cooperation with the unconstitutional spy programs. While on one hand allowing NSA wiretapping of its servers on the other its complained loudly and vocally about how NSA spying hurts its overseas business. To help placate users, it releases pretty reports showing which agencies have asked for what, ignoring that most requests come under FISA letters and therefore cannot be disclosed to anyone.
The company has again been caught talking out of both sides of its mouth, with revelations surfacing that while it claims its Hangouts chat product is secure, thanks to encryption, this is not done ‘end to end’.
Google has, in other words, left a backdoor so that the company, law enforcement and the NSA can all eavesdrop at will on the popular chat product.
Google has admitted during a Reddit Ask Me Anything post that while it does encrypt Hangouts conversations, it does not use end-to-end encryption, like Apple’s FaceTime, which cannot be tapped even by the company offering the service.
“A spokesperson confirmed that Hangouts doesn’t use end-to-end encryption. That makes it technically possible for Google to wiretap conversations at the request of law enforcement agents, even when you turn on the “off the record” feature, which actually only prevents the chat conversations from appearing in your history—it doesn’t provide extra encryption or security.” the company told blog Motherboard.
Google’s Transparency Report shows that the company received 26 wiretap requests from the US government in the 18 months running from the beginning of 2013 to the middle of last year. The company did not identify how many of these, if any, were for Hangouts.
Yet the number is suspiciously low, as most wiretap requests these days come in the form of FISA letters, which require the company to undergo a vow of silence regarding the order. The company is not permitted to say it received a request, skewing the data it releases.
FISA letters are not court approved and are instead issued by a shadowy ‘court’ of which few details are known.