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Google racing to encrypt data transfers in response to NSA surveillance

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Google is stepping up efforts to encrypt information flowing between its own data centers as a response to surveillance programs waged by the NSA and other intelligence agencies around the world. "It's an arms race," Eric Grosse, Google's vice president for security engineering, tells The Washington Post. "We see these government agencies as among the most skilled players in this game." The disclosure of the security effort, which has been going on for about a year, comes amid reports that the NSA can get around most common encryption methods.

The company tells the Post that it sped up its encryption efforts in June after the NSA's PRISM surveillance program was revealed in reports from both the Post and the Guardian. While Google's encryption efforts won't make it impossible for the NSA and others to circumvent information flowing between its data centers, the company explains that encryption will at least make massive government or hacker spying efforts more difficult to pull off. The escalated security push also won't change the fact that the company legally has to comply with court orders when the NSA and federal agencies ask for user data, the Post notes.

On multiple occasions, Google has denied taking part in PRISM while also aligning with Apple, Microsoft, and other tech firms to call on the NSA to allow them to be more transparent about the user data requests they do receive. The Post reports that the encryption effort should be finished soon, "months ahead" of what Google originally planned.