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Google engineers blast the NSA with F-bombs, righteous outrage, and Lord of the Rings analogies

Reuters/Bobby Yip
Not Middle Earth.
By Adam Pasick
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt had some stern words for the National Security Agency this week, saying the NSA’s reported hacking of Google’s data centers was “outrageous” and “perhaps illegal” (paywall). But some Google employees are venting their rage in a much less constrained fashion.

Brandon Downey, a Google network security engineer, let loose on Google+ with a broadside last week when news of the NSA intrusions first surfaced:

I’m just going to post my thoughts on this. Standard disclaimer: They are my own thoughts, and not those of my employer. Fuck these guys. I’ve spent the last ten years of my life trying to keep Google’s users safe and secure from the many diverse threats Google faces … 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.

Mike Hearn, a network security colleague of Downey’s, weighed in with his own profanity-laced response on Tuesday afternoon, noting that the slides leaked by Edward Snowden showed the NSA accessing the very systems he had worked for years to safeguard against criminals within the confines of the legal system:

Unfortunately we live in a world where all too often, laws are for the little people. Nobody at GCHQ or the NSA will ever stand before a judge and answer for this industrial-scale subversion of the judicial process. In the absence of working law enforcement,  we therefore do what internet engineers have always done – build more secure software. The traffic shown in the slides below is now all encrypted and the work the NSA/GCHQ staff did on understanding it, ruined. Thank you Edward Snowden. 

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