Google has been entertaining and accepting law enforcement agencies request to disclose users’ data, information and details. However, Google is very particular in not succumbing to each and every law enforcement request as it has to balance the law enforcement and civil liberties issues.
Google is managing a database where it is providing a rough estimate of the number of law enforcement requests received and the number of such requests accepted by Google around the world.
While this is official and well known, there are many more censorship issues that people are not aware of. We are managing a resource that accounts for the unofficial censorship by Google that is otherwise very difficult to find. We have also started a LinkedIn Group in this regard. The purpose of these initiatives is to ensure that civil liberties protection in cyberspace is not jeopardised by either governments or private players like Google.
It seems some crackers have got interested in this dark side of Google and they obtained access to Google’s system for tracking surveillance requests from law enforcement. The crackers accessed the database of Google that it uses to process court orders from law enforcement agencies seeking information about customer accounts, including classified FISA orders that are used in foreign intelligence surveillance investigations.
It is unclear how much the hackers were able to discover. It is also premature to impute authorship attribution behind the cyber attacks at this stage. Further, till conclusive investigations are conducted, it is also not feasible to blame China or any other country for this breach.
Whoever is behind this breach but the days of cyber espionage and cyber warfare have arrived. The decision of Indian government to establish cyber command for armed forces of India is a good step in the right direction.