By Bill Mears
U.S. authorities are not required to release any internal National Security Agency communications it had with Internet giant Google Inc. after a 2010 cyber attack in China, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.
At issue was a Freedom of Information Act request from a private group over the suspected collaborative relationship between the public and private entities. The NSA said disclosure of any communications - even with outside companies - would threaten government information systems.
The agency had given the Electronic Privacy Information Center a so-called "Glomar" response, in which the government refuses to confirm or deny the existence of any requested records. EPIC, a privacy and civil liberties group, made the FOIA submission weeks after the January 2010 cyberattack on Gmail accounts, primarily targeting Chinese human rights activists.
Google quickly changed its server encryption protocols following the digital attacks, and a top company official publicly stated its engineers were "also working with the relevant U.S. authorities."
A federal judge eventually sided with the NSA and Google, and the three-judge federal panel has now affirmed.
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