When Edward Snowden leaked a document that revealed project MUSCULAR, an NSA and British GCHQ operation that infiltrated the private data centers belonging to companies like Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) to collect millions of files, Google was none too pleased. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt formally blasted the NSA Monday in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, but now Google engineers are taking to social media to express how they really feel.
“F—k these guys,” Brandon Downey, a Google computer security engineer, said on Google Plus when the Washington Post published the Snowden leak. Downey wrote that he spent 10 years of his life defending Google users from hacker attacks, malware, spyware and oppressive governments. “But after spending all that time helping in my tiny way to protect Google -- one of the greatest things to arise from the Internet -- seeing this, well, it's just a little like coming home from War with Sauron, destroying the One Ring, only to discover the NSA is on the front porch of the Shire chopping down the Party Tree and outsourcing all the hobbit farmers with half-orcs and whips.”
Downey’s colleague Mike Hearn echoed the sentiment on Tuesday, saying that the NSA slides leaked by Snowden show that the NSA worked to defeat an anti-hacking system that Hearn spent more than two years developing. Hearn noted his UK nationality and directed his anger towards the GCHQ, which he said “turns out to be even worse than the NSA.”
“I now join [Downey] in issuing a giant F—k You to the people who made these slides,” Hearn said on Google Plus.
"We designed this system to keep criminals out. There's no ambiguity here. The warrant system with skeptical judges, paths for appeal, and rules of evidence was built from centuries of hard-won experience. When it works, it represents as good a balance as we've got between the need to restrain the state and the need to keep crime in check. Bypassing that system is illegal for a good reason."
Hearn added that the traffic sources that the NSA and GCHQ used have been encrypted.
“In the absence of working law enforcement, we therefore do what Internet engineers have always done -- build more secure software,” Hearn said.
Both Google employees were careful to offer a disclaimer that their thoughts on the NSA were their own and do not reflect the opinions of Google.
Indeed, Schmidt was much more reserved in his interview with the Journal, but the sentiment wasn't very far removed. Schmidt called the NSA programs “outrageous,” and potentially illegal. Schmidt added that Google has registered complaints with the NSA, Congress and President Barack Obama.