Just In Case…

This might be filed in the Tin Foil Hat category, or it might be something we look back on and wonder how we ever missed it. I don't have any idea which. That alone sort of scares me. The story says that Google is working with the Govt. in…


This might be filed in the Tin Foil Hat category, or it might be something we look back on and wonder how we ever missed it. I don’t have any idea which. That alone sort of scares me.

The story says that Google is working with the Govt. in the war on terror. It depends a lot on ex CIA agent Robert Steele, who may or may not be a trustworthy source.

I’ve seen this story all over the place this weekend, and it strikes me as possibly accurate on at least one level: If the CIA/Dept. of Homeland Security was NOT trying to secretly work with Google, it’s even lamer than we might imagine. After all, the company has just about the best infrastructure in the world to help them do their job. Is it legal? Moral? Right? Another question entirely….

More here and here.

10 thoughts on “Just In Case…”

  1. i was definitely afraid of this. of course it’s not moral, but of course google is a corporation – they’re not in the morality business, despite the “don’t be evil” marketing. the Pentagon is a huge guaranteed market and google needed to take advantage of it to continue to grow so rapidly. it was only ever a matter of time.

    so, time for a new moniker – “how evil can one company possibly be?”.

  2. I’d argue that:

    1) It’s a no brainer that Google should work with the Government to help stop potentially catastrophic terror attacks. For this reason I’m guessing they are doing so.

    2) It’s essential to the “do no evil” policy that Google states they do this because the community of support that Google profits from has a right to know they are working in this fashion with the Government.

    I fear that transparency for Google is starting to be “transparency when we see fit to divulge info”.

    That, of course, is bullshit. What’s good for the Google is not necessarily good for the gander.

    Now, if they are NOT working with the feds then the above critique by me is bull, and I apologize.

  3. _____________________________________________

    Why would the Govt just limit themselves to Google ?! –

    They are probably working with Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft also.

    If the basis for the relationship is data mining – it would make sense to exploit the collective databases of GYM (people dont JUST use Google)

    Perhaps, certain KEYWORDS of Repeated Search Terms are alble to be ‘red-flagged’ by Google’s technology – then information on the IP Addresses, locations and users profiles can be isolated and spit-out for further analysis.

    Google could also be assisting in the development of next-gen datebase technology – as could Oracle

  4. Lest we not forget, the whole field of information retrieval (“search”) owes its existence to intelligence agencies. Search systems were developed and funded throughout the cold war in large part with the help of the very agencies who might now be making use of their fruits.

    I’ve actually read (held in my hands) an original copy of one of the Cranfield experiments from the mid 1960s, a body of work that pretty much established the modern information retrieval age. And if you look at the queries they were using for their experiments, they weren’t pop culture and current news queries, such as “the beatles”, “the patty duke show”, etc. No, the queries were “find documents related to materials used in producing missiles and rockets” and “find documents related to nuclear weapons and radioactive emissions”.

    In other words, the systems that lie at the heart of modern search systems like Google were originally developed to support intelligence agencies.

    Should there be any surprise, then, over any sort of intelligence back door in modern IR systems? Let’s not forget where this stuff comes from.

  5. Is it legal? If it’s spying on foreigners, then yes.

    Moral? If it’s limited to stopping crime, then yes.

    Right? If it stops attacks, then yes.

    The problem I see is the potential for abuse by our gov’t is probably high, considering our current administration’s view on how to fight this was on terror.

  6. Excellent points Hashim. We already see many very serious human rights abuses springing from what were reasonable requests by the Government to keep many things about the “war on terror” secret. It’s a balancing act with no “right” answers.

  7. In previous worldwide conflicts the so called “intelligence” services were recruiting the brightest brains fresh out of universtites to crack codes and gather “information”.

    The Internet and its associated mean of communication (mail, IM) has created a different context for this gathering, but the need of these services remain the same. They have just outsourced the task to a private company. Economists tell us it’s much more efficient, less hindered by citizens’ control and probably cheaper 😉

    Maybe there were good reasons for Google to hire so many PhD level students, after all…

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