Leaked emails show NSA's close ties with Google

A leaked email exchange between Google and the NSA suggests the two parties were working far more closely than the former has implied.

Al Jazeera has posted two sets of emails between NSA director general Keith Alexander and Google executives Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt, dated from before the Snowden revelations last year, discussing company cooperation.

In one email, dated June 2012, Alexander invites Schmidt to a four-hour meeting on classified threats at a secure facility near San Jose. Alexander had already met with other industry executives, but wanted a separate meeting with the Google exec.

The emails are said to have been related to the NSA's Enduring Security Framework (ESF) program. The ESF project played a major role, according to Alexander, in thwarting BIOS attacks on American computer systems.

Schmidt, who has been critical of the NSA and declared its surveillance programs illegal, replies in friendly terms to Alexander: "So great to see you!" He writes. "I'm unlikely to be in California ... would love to see you another time."

Google co-founder Sergey Brin attended other ESF meetings, and was sent an email by Alexander to thank him for his participation in the programme: "Your insights, as a key member of the Defence Industrial Base, are valuable to ensure ESF's efforts have measurable impact."

When it was alleged the NSA had infiltrated Google's internal datacentres, the company spoke up in outrage. The firm has also reacted by making changes to its privacy policy, allowing it to inform users who are targeted by government data requests.

The disclosure by Al Jazeera has indicated that perhaps the companies in Silicon Valley know more than they are letting on. Indeed, earlier this year a senior lawyer for the NSA told The Guardian of how the major tech companies were fully aware of PRISM and its implications.