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Google: NSA spying outrageous if true

Google Chairperson Eric Schmidt said complaints were registered with the NSA and the US president.

Google Chairperson Eric Schmidt said complaints were registered with the NSA and the US president. Picture: AFP.

HONG KONG - Google Inc. Executive Chairperson Eric Schmidt said widespread US government spying on its data centres would be outrageous and potentially illegal if true, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"It's really outrageous that the NSA was looking between the Google data centres, if that's true," Schmidt said in an interview.

"The steps that the organisation was willing to do without good judgment to pursue its mission and potentially violate people's privacy, it's not OK."

Schmidt told the newspaper in Hong Kong that Google had registered complaints with the NSA, President Barack Obama and Congress members.

According to a Washington Post report on Wednesday, the NSA had tapped directly into communications links used by Google and Yahoo Inc. to move huge amounts of email and other user information among overseas data centres.

Responding to the report, the NSA said the suggestion that it relied on a presidential order on foreign intelligence- gathering to skirt domestic restrictions imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and other laws "is not true."

When contacted by the WSJ, the NSA referred to its previous statements that press articles about the NSA's collection had misstated facts and mischaracterised the NSA's activities.

Schmidt said in the interview that the NSA allegedly collected the phone records of 320 million people in order to identify roughly 300 people who might be at risk.

The US Senate Intelligence Committee approved legislation on Thursday that would tighten controls on the government's sweeping electronic eavesdropping programmes but allow them to continue.

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