Reccode's Kara Swisher, Walt Mossberg and Google's Sergey Brin.
RANCHOS PALOS VERDES, California — Google cofounder Sergey Brin said the company was shocked to learn that the NSA was snooping on backbone data.
Speaking with Re/Code's Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the inaugural Code Conference (the replacement for the "D Conference"), Brin explained that even though the company was surprised to learn of the NSA's data-collection practices, Google had already started encrypting much of that backbone data anyway.
He said the NSA revelations made the U.S. government look "hypocritical" and "raised a lot of policy questions."
Brin also acknowledged that Google, which has also come under fire for its data collection policies, has a responsibility to protect its customers. He noted that there are almost 1,000 people at Google focused on security. "There's always more you can do," Brin told Mossberg and Swisher.
Google, Brin countered, needs to store mail and search data simply to do its job.
On the other hand, "I’m sure we've made our share of mistakes and I am not claiming we do a perfect job," said Brin, who actually reminded the audience of the Wi-fi snooping brouhaha.
Google's big plans
Brin's comments came during a wide-ranging discussion that revealed Google's plans to build 200 self-driving prototype cars. He also talked about when Google Glass might transition from the "Explorer" program (essentially an open beta) to traditional commercial availability.
On that point, Brin's response — "plus or minus," he said— was opaque, to say the least, and essentially means there is no fixed answer. On the other hand, Brin did get the famously Google Glass-averse Swisher to try on his pair, which she quickly removed.
When asked about the European Union's controversial "Right to be Forgotten" ruling, Brin said his company would comply but added, "I wish we could just forget the ruling."