Google CEO Larry Page has denied reports that the search giant is providing user data to the PRISM government surveillance programme that was revealed in newspaper reports over the past week.

In a post on the official Google blog titled “What the…?”, Page said the company did provide the National Security Agency access to email and other personal information transmitted on various online services. “We have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday,” Page said in a post, co-signed by David Drummond, Google’s Chief Legal Officer.

Page says Google is not handing over data to the PRISM programme

Page says Google is not handing over data to the PRISM programme

Page added that Google hasn't joined any programme that allows access to personal data. “We provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don’t follow the correct process. Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users’ data are false, period.

He added: “Until this week’s reports, we had never heard of the broad type of order that Verizon received—an order that appears to have required them to hand over millions of users’ call records. We were very surprised to learn that such broad orders exist. Any suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.

Page's assertions are in stark contrast to reports that tied Google, among six other leading technology companies, to the secret PRISM programme. But the CEO called for a more transparent approach to security issues and access of user data.

Google has worked hard, within the confines of the current laws, to be open about the data requests we receive. We post this information on our Transparency Report whenever possible. We were the first company to do this. And, of course, we understand that the U.S. and other governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety—including sometimes by using surveillance. But the level of secrecy around the current legal procedures undermines the freedoms we all cherish,” he said to sum up the company’s position on the matter.

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