While speaking at Re/code’s inaugural Code Conference in California late Tuesday, Google cofounder Sergey Brin said the Silicon Valley giant was “shocked” to learn about the National Security Agency bulk surveillance programs leaked by ex-contractor Edward Snowden.
“I think that privacy is the expectation that secret things stay secret,” Brin told Re/code founders Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg during an on-stage question and answer session, CNBC reports. “Private messages stay private.”
Although the company was surprised according to Brin, the business magnate explained Google was already in the midst of encrypting more of its Internet data throughout more of the transmission process when the story broke last year.
Brin alleged the revelations about bulk collection, storage and surveillance of Internet user data by the NSA painted the U.S. government in a “hypocritical” light, and ”raised a lot of policy questions.”
Despite the recent and continually mounting criticism against Google for its own data collection, targeted advertising and email monitoring practices, Brin said Google has a responsibility to protect its customers, and that almost 1,000 Google employees are constantly working on increasing security.
“There’s always more you can do,” Brin said.
Brin’s claims appear to run counter to further revelations from leaked Snowden documents and disclosures from the agency itself over the last three months, including a testimony by the agency’s general legal counsel that Google along with other Silicon Valley giants like Microsoft, Facebook and Apple had knowledge of and were complicit with the signals intelligence agency’s PRISM bulk Internet surveillance program.
Beyond the agency’s admission, emails obtained via the Freedom of Information Act earlier this month between then-NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander, Brin and other Google executives revealed a much closer relationship between the company and the government than either ever let on.
According to Brin, Google only stores mail and search data for the purpose of doing its job.
“I’m sure we’ve made our share of mistakes and I am not claiming we do a perfect job,” Brin said.