back to article Hand in glove: Google and the US State Dept

The close relationship between Google and the US government has long been a concern. Aside from the fact it is persistently one of the biggest lobbyists in DC, there has also been: the last-minute change made to net neutrality rules solely because of a letter received from Google; the unusual dropping of anti-trust …

  1. Mark 85

    They're just not lobbyists anymore, are they? That bit about tool almost smells like Google is a secret contractor or the trading of favors. The question would be: "for whom are they a contractor or doing favors for? State Department? CIA? NSA, other governments?"

    If they can track defectors, who else can and are they tracking?

    1. NotBob

      Might be a shorter list if you ask for which government agencies they aren't doing favors (yet).

    2. GrumpyOldBloke

      They were never just lobbyists. Pravda reported in 2010: Google's Deep CIA Connections.

      "In 2004, the Director of Technology Assessment at In-Q-Tel, Rob Painter, moved from his old job directly serving the CIA to become 'Senior Federal Manager' at Google."

      It has also been a long standing rumour that CIA seed money helped found Google.

      1. ckm5

        CIA funding Google....

        ... is just that, a crazy rumor. I actually know (and worked with) Google's primary angel investors, there was no CIA money.

        There were plenty of other search engines at the time which came out of places that benefited heavily from gov't largess (cough - Altavista - cough) and pretty much no one thought that Google would amount to much.

        But, hey, it would make a good headline.

        That said, it's an open secret that Google has been cozy with the US gov't for years. IRC, their head of privacy (at some point) was an ex NSA employee....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Assange was right again.

      1. Tromos

        Assange was right again.

        But he's got a long way to go to catch up with the twice a day record of a stopped clock.

      2. Gordon 10

        But Who did he stitch up to get this information?

    4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      I always assumed that the State Department, CIA and NSA were secret contractors of Google

  2. redpawn

    The Google Revolution

    Will Google settle for being a tool of the government for long? Once the government becomes reliant on Google's services, how long before one swallows the other? Or am I being dense and its already happened?

    1. ckm5

      Re: The Google Revolution

      Already happened. Google already knows more about the gov't than the gov't. The only thing stopping is that they haven't yet found a good business model around it....

  3. k9gardner

    Encouraged to defect?

    "...nobody is visually representing and mapping the defections, which we believe are important in encouraging more to defect and giving confidence to the opposition."

    Huh? I should think we would want to encourage the Syrian people to stand their ground, and preserve THEIR claim to their very homeland, instead of essentially helping them to evacuate the country.

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: Encouraged to defect?

      Much easier to take over a country when there is no one there. Our friends from the only democracy in the Middle East are always looking for new land. if it contains water and oil and is on strategic hydrocarbon transport routes (not the Russian ones obviously) then bonus! Uncle George is urging Europe to take about a million refugees a year. Give it a few years and the world is one step closer to Eretz Yisrael.

    2. ckm5

      Re: Encouraged to defect?

      You are misreading the language - defect from the syrian gov't to the opposition, not to the US....

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Double Standards, As Usual

    I LOVE how the sketchiest of connections is enough for the spooks to put a citizen under total surveillance, or even send a drone with a missile, but we're obliged to give the benefit of the doubt when a well-connected new representative of a major tech company with a sensitive government background is jet-setting around with military escort and instigating such curious decisions and projects.

    Even worse are those who are blind to this; as if we "agree" that agents of Uncle Sam are inherently trustworthy and we, our neighbors + dog deserve to be under much tighter scrutiny.

  5. Herby
    Black Helicopters

    And the FBI needs to break into iPhones...

    Maybe they should ask Google, they probably already know what is on the silly device anyway.

    Of course the NSA probably knows as well, but that is a topic for another story.

    Maybe Google runs the black helicopters. You never know.

  6. Mephistro

    So, this is it...

    ... this the shape the New World Order is taking now.

    Not too worried, though. This kind of shit usually self-destructs in a few decades. And if the-guy- with-the-weird-hair becomes the next POTUS , it could be a matter of years or months! ;-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, this is it...

      Not to worry, he will fall in love with the equally odd guy in London, something with the hair, and no harm will come out of it.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: So, this is it...

      Is it time to join Liber8?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This really isn't new news...

    Google has had this potential for a very long time.

    You can even see the ties to the US Government way back when Google first started using Moffet Field.

    The sad thing is that Google has a monopoly and it won't be stopped until people start removing google analytics from their sites. (Hint, Hint, El Reg.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This really isn't new news...

      The sad thing is that Google has a monopoly and it won't be stopped until people start removing google analytics from their sites. (Hint, Hint, El Reg.)

      You'd have to kill all Wordpress sites as well. I have yet to find any WP theme that is not triggering the Google Font API :(

      1. Lucasjkr

        Re: This really isn't new news...

        Easy enough to download the font and serve it from the site, rather than Google's servers.

        Would be nice, perhaps, if someone wrote a plug-in to do that.

        Scan WP theme - pull fonts to wp-uploads folder, then use javascript to rewrite the calls to Google to the stand alone server.

        I'd pay for it.

        Problem is, most people wouldn't. Why should they care that Google tracks their visitors?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: This really isn't new news...

          "Easy enough to download the font and serve it from the site, rather than Google's servers."

          Or just rely on the browsers inherent ability to select the closest available local font as it was designed to do instead of downloading one at all.

    2. Mark 65

      Re: This really isn't new news...

      Makes you just want to go out and buy a chrome book, Android phone, or install Chrome. Not.

  8. Tim99 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Don't Be Evil

    Indeed. "Do the right thing", for whom? An appropriate icon >>=====>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't Be Evil

      Do as I say, not as I do.

    2. Florida1920

      Re: Don't Be Evil

      Google probably rationalize this by claiming that they aren't the actors, only the enablers. They provide the weapons; what the government does with them is another matter.

      1. ckm5

        Re: Don't Be Evil

        US corporations have been doing this for decades (cf. Dole & banana republics). No one should be surprised, really, this is just a modern version of a long standing US policy of hegemony via capitalism & corporate proxies.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't Be Evil

          I would think that most evil dictators and despots throughout history would not label themselves as evil.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Googhoul is God!

    Obama is Dog...................

  10. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Is this the administration outsourcing things, or is this a corporation aquiring parts of the administration, or a bit of both?

    Do we have someone competent on the legal side of this amongst us who can shed some light on this?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google Play Services

    Take you're Android phone, find "Google Play Services", this is a service that is REQUIRED by Google's contract with handset makers to be running on your device.

    This app lets Google install software onto your device without you knowing. It runs all the time, and cannot be stopped, if you try to remove it, it will remove every app on your phone. Yet if you can root the phone and kill it, then it's not used to run the apps.

    It accesses everything from Wifi, network, location, audio, video, SMSs, messaging, apps, contacts. Nearby devices even. It can do EVERYTHING it wants under Google remote control. Which in turns means every snoop around the world has that access and that control.

    Take a look around you, how many android devices are withing earshot of you? Those potentially are listening. How many camera phones are watching you now?

    So you are a journalist, a politician, perhaps you've expressed a view that a spook disagrees with, or work at a company that is targeted for industrial spying. Well your phone could be tasked with spying on you.

    Do you believe big multinationals should pay their taxes? You might think its radicals or extremists that are spied on (and that you're safe because you're not radical or extreme), but this was one of the issues that the UK "Forward Intelligence Unit" spied on in 2010. Daring to demand companies pay their taxes got you put under police surveillance. Yet surely that's the consensus? That companies pay their taxes?

    Without any checks on surveillance, and with nobody to answer to, the police can target you for their surveillance fishing without you ever knowing or having the right of challenge. Your private discussions recorded, your location tracked, your phone calls monitored. There's zero accountability and zero penalty for misuse.

    Search on "COINTELPRO", this was the US version of political surveillance, with FBI targetting people expressing political views at odds with the Presidents. Read the Church Committee report. That was then, now things are MUCH WORSE. Look at where Theresa May's lot are now, far far far beyond the nightmare scenario of the Church Report.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google Play Services

      "Take you're Android phone, find "Google Play Services" ....It runs all the time, and cannot be stopped"

      Urrm, yes it can. Built-in application manager, hit running services, find said service, hit the Stop button. My phone isn't even rooted, just a default android.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Google Play Services

        So you trust that Google's secret spy service is stopped because Google's task manager says so?

        In other news North Korean state TV announces that .....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google Play Services

      Your Phone is always on...

      Your Phone travels everywhere with you...

      Its so obvious it can be overlooked. But its such a radical departure from when everything was laptop / PC based and was shut down and powered off when not used... Sleepwalking into a 'lets spy on ourselves' culture was due to past indifference and ignorance... But there's really no excuse now... That is, unless you're going to be another victim of false-flag promises of catching T’s & P’s...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Google Play Services

        But you are in a public place and chose to have a phoen - so it's really no different from having a team of special branch following you around 24x7 noting where you go, who you talk to and what news you read.

        And who could possibly object to that ?

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How did Google convince mobile hardware makers to adopt Android so quickly?

      .....To throw away their own systems and plans, and adopt an OS from the world’s greatest data slurper...?

      There has to be dirty deals behind all of this. I'm not saying Apple or Microsoft are any better... But most of us don't also have our web-searches tied up with this giant abusive corporation with powerful friends in many governments.

      This power has to be checked somehow. But how can journalists or investigative researchers etc, ever feel comfortable operating again with everything that's happened? Just like with the banks, no one went to jail.... Snowden was ostracized to Siberia... And the snooping wagon rolled on without any change, except word-play! In fact, policies now are even worse with Snooper's Charter etc...

      I had been using Smart phones since the early days. But I dumped them for dumb phone’s, dumb TV's and Linux. Why? Because its all unhealthy! We don’t look at privacy that way. But as a society we need to ask, how much more should we take? Leaky phones... Leaky Devices... Global 24-hour slurping.. Internet of tat.... All of them phoning home... Its so so unhealthy!

      Its all easily hackable by crims too! That was my number one reason for doing it, risk of financial theft not privacy, because the internet is highly toxic. Its the wild west, and no one has your back.

      Remember, 'where there is doubt, there is no doubt'! Bin technology that spies on you or is a hackers dream! Stop being a dumb consumer, ask tough questions and turn your back from devices, OS and phone tech that isn't transparent! Then, live healthy and prosper!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google is really....

    The Parallax Corporation....

  13. james 68


    ...they want ALL of your shit.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Doing things the CIA can't do?

    Wow, if Google is out-doing the CIA in 'covert destabilization efforts' front, they've taken their old "Do no evil" motto and turned it around 180 degrees. Even at their worst Microsoft was only evil in a business sense, and only lobbied the government to try to prolong their monopoly.

    Google is now taking evil to the sort of level typically reserved for companies like Halliburton and Blackwater!

  15. Dr. Ellen
    Big Brother

    Name Your Poison.

    If you own an Android device, Google knows what you're doing. If you own an Apple device, Apple knows what you're doing. Windows, Microsoft knows what you're doing -- and with Windows 10, they'll know even more. Have a Kindle or shop online, Amazon knows what you're doing. I'm not so sure about Ubuntu, but who knows?

    As these things go, I'll take the Amazon surveillance with the most grace. They are making money off me *directly* and would probably just as soon not screw up the relationship. As for the others -- if something is free, YOU are the product being sold. Since I have a Kindle and use Windows, Android, and Ubuntu, and am not involved in plots, I content myself with feeding the spies I know, and trying to avoid the ones I don't know. It's the price we pay to be part of the technological world. I don't like paying it, but I'd like getting rid of all my gadgets even less.

  16. John Savard

    What's to Complain About Here?

    This news story seems to just show that Google is acting in an exemplary and public-spirited manner for a private company, doing more than its duty to help work towards peace and freedom.

    1. ckm5
      Thumb Up

      Re: What's to Complain About Here?

      Well played, sir. Well played.

  17. mhenriday

    You ain't seen nothin' yet !

    In the event Ms Clinton gets to occupy the Oval Office as anything more than a spectator, Google will be waving the cigar....


  18. Howard Hanek

    Mild Analogy

    I'd replace 'glove' with 'condom'....

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Flywheel

    Project Lune

    So now Project Lune makes (more) sense. If a territory/region has no usable Internet, potential terrorists can't be tracked. So just send the balloons up, give the masses an Internet connection, then send the spooks in. Thank you Google!

  21. Earl Jones Of Potatoes

    "tech giant"

    I wish people would quit calling google a tech giant.... it is an advertising giant not a tech giant. It exploits and spends on technology to collect information about you and I in order to sell it to the highest bidder... look at youtube, it has become worst than a commercial break that you cannot skip.

    1. oldcoder

      Re: "tech giant"

      Odd. It is easy to skip youtube...

      Even easier than skipping commercials.

  22. Mystic Megabyte

    Did you mean Apocalypse?

    I've been wondering why the Chrome logo is the intertwined 666. Either they employed a graphic artist who had absolutely no knowledge of symbolism or they really *are* evil.

  23. Downside
    Big Brother

    Forget Google, what about John Lewis?

    I was in John Lewis at the weekend, looking at bean-to-cup espresso machines.

    Later that night, I get an email about... bean-to-cup espresso machines.

    Deriving that from my browsing habits is one thing, getting that from my idle wander around a physical store is quite the other.

    The guy on the moon with the Telescope was clearly someone trying to blow the whistle on this.

    1. Whiskers

      Re: Forget Google, what about John Lewis?

      Ah, but what prompted you to be interested in such gadgets and what made you visit that particular emporium?

  24. Daggerchild Silver badge

    Polarisation filters

    Here's a cruel thought experiment:

    If we were in a Universe where Google were actually Not Evil (for your own personal definition of Not Evil), what would have to have changed in the data the article is based on? What is it in the data that cannot be Not Evil?

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