TECH
09/16/2013 04:30 pm ET | Updated Sep 17, 2013

Former NSA Head: Terrorists Love Gmail

Gmail is reportedly the most "preferred” online service of “terrorists worldwide.”

The Google marketing team likely won't be celebrating the news, which comes from Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, according to the Washington Post.

In a Sept. 15 speech at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., Hayden explained Gmail's popularity amongst international terrorists. "It's free, it's ubiquitous," he said, later adding that we're probably not going to "see that in a Google commercial."

Google did not respond to requests for comment from The Huffington Post.

As the Washington Post notes, Hayden referenced the popular Internet service when he spoke in defense of the NSA, and, in particular, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Section 702 allows for "targeting, for foreign intelligence purposes, of communications of foreign persons who are located abroad."

Section 702 came under fire just over a week ago, when a secret court ruling from 2011 was released by the Obama administration. The ruling allowed the NSA to search “deliberately for Americans' communications in its huge databases of intercepted phone calls and email” -- among them Gmail communications -- if deemed "reasonably likely to yield foreign intelligence information."

In response to controversy over NSA domestic surveillance, Hayden argued that the United States affords its citizens privacy rights that would seem inconceivable to other governments. He noted that, under many governments, "intelligence collection is centered, anchored, and exclusively the business of the political branches," Think Progress reports. He cited the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a federal court that oversees intelligence collection, as an “anomaly on this Earth.”

In further attempts to assuage the public's fear and anger about domestic surveillance, the Washington Post reports that Hayden evoked a unique U.S. responsibility for supervising Internet pathways, since much of the Internet originated in the United States. He said the sheer quantity of information that passes through U.S. online networks justifies the NSA’s surveillance.

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