Google on Thursday denied that it has had any contact with the FBI regarding the design of its Gmail Web e-mail service. The search firm's denial came after the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI seeking information about whether the bureau was considering the "possible use of Google's Gmail service for law enforcement and intelligence investigations." EPIC, which gave an award last week to a California state senator who , announced the request immediately after Google said it was .
Critics immediately criticized EPIC's request as a publicity stunt and because the nonprofit likened Google's Web-based e-mail service to the FBI's controversial Carnivore wiretapping utility and the Pentagon's ." EPIC's request also asked whether Google had discussed licensing its search technology, in use by customers in the private sector, to the FBI "to further law enforcement investigations or intelligence gathering activities." Google spokesman Nathan Tyler replied: "I cannot confirm whether they're using our technology."