Google's executive chairman is weighing in on reports that the NSA hacked reams of data from his company and Yahoo: "It's really outrageous that the National Security Agency was looking between the Google data centers, if that's true," Eric Schmidt tells the Wall Street Journal. What's more, "The NSA allegedly collected the phone records of 320 million people in order to identify roughly 300 people who might be a risk. It's just bad public policy ... and perhaps illegal." Google has registered complaints with the NSA, White House, and members of Congress, he says.
- NSA Director General Keith Alexander is also responding to the report, per Time. "This is not the NSA breaking into any databases. It would be illegal for us to do that," Alexander says. "I can tell you factually we do not have access to Google servers, Yahoo servers. We go through a court order. We issue that court order to them through the FBI."
- During a public speech in Baltimore last week, Alexander said NSA surveillance programs "were developed to defend this country," but that "I am not wedded to these programs. If we can come up with a better way of doing them, we should, period," he said, per the Baltimore Sun.
- Meanwhile, Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL have written to top lawmakers, including judiciary committee head Patrick Leahy, arguing that "government surveillance practices should ... be reformed" to boost privacy, accountability, and oversight. They also want to "counter erroneous reports" suggesting they allow officials to probe their servers directly, Bloomberg reports.