Tech giants listed as part of the National Security Agency’s Prism spying program have gone to some lengths to convince the world they aren’t in bed with the U.S. government. Google has filed a request with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court asking permission to disclose more information about the government’s data requests. So there’s a certain irony that NSA programmers are now refining code that Google has approved for the company’s mobile operating system, Android. Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano confirms that the company has already inserted some of the NSA’s programming in Android OS. “All Android code and contributors are publicly available for review at source.android.com,” Scigliano says, declining to comment further.
Through its open-source Android project, Google has agreed to incorporate code, first developed by the agency in 2011, into future versions of its mobile operating system, which according to market researcher IDC runs on three-quarters of the smartphones shipped globally in the first quarter. NSA officials say their code, known as Security Enhancements for Android, isolates apps to prevent hackers and marketers from gaining access to personal or corporate data stored on a device. Eventually all new phones, tablets, televisions, cars, and other devices that rely on Android will include NSA code, agency spokeswoman Vanee’ Vines said in an e-mailed statement. NSA researcher Stephen Smalley, who works on the program, says, “Our goal is to raise the bar in the security of commodity mobile devices.”