Google’s Faux Outrage over NSA Spying – Part 17 Google Spying Series

Google’s Faux Outrage over NSA Spying – Part 17 Google Spying Series
November 1, 2013

Scott Cleland

Scott Cleland is a precursor: a proven thought leader with a long track record of industry firsts.... (read full bio)

Big Brother Inc. Google is outraged at Big Brother NSA?

Is there no honor among spies?

Google’s faux outrage at the Washington Post’s Snowden story that the NSA directly tapped into Google’s internal network of data centers to surveil whatever it wanted, is akin to the classic line in Casablanca, where Captain Renault feigned public outrage in telling his casino partner: “I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!

The substantial evidence below indicates that Google is not an unsophisticated, unwitting victim of hacking by the NSA, or that it is opposed to spying. Google Inc. clearly does not have the coercive sovereign power that the NSA has. However, the evidence shows that it has a similar spying habits, legal positions, and attitudes; and that it also has had a decade-long record of cooperation with U.S. intelligence services.

Similar spying habits.

Consider the number of times Google has gotten caught doing basically the same thing the NSA allegedly did -- secretly tapping into others’ information without permission, which most would call “spying.”

  • Google got caught spying and intercepting home WiFi emissions of many tens of millions of people in 33 countries over a period of three years, and paid fines for it inthe U.S. and many othercountries. A U.S. appeals court recently ruled Google WiSpy was engaged in unauthorized wiretapping.
  • Google got caught hacking into Apple’s iPhone operating system to bypass consumers’ privacy/security settings to target Google advertising, and paid a record$22m FTC fine for “tapping into” Apple’s internal network without permission.
  • A Federal court recently ruled that Google’s scanning of people’s gmails without the parties’ permission is unauthorized wiretapping, or in other words, spying on people.
  • Google Glass enables surreptitious video recordings of others’ private conversations with a whisper or a blink of an eye, leading many entities to ban Google Spy-Glass for their obvious spying potential.

Similar legal positions.

Consider the similarity of Google’s and the NSA’s stances that what they are doing is legal – i.e. not specifically illegal. Google’s standard line in court:  our services are legal because “a person has no expectation of privacy” if they use Google’s services. That sounds similar to the NSA’s blanket claims that everything they collect is legal and has been authorized by law and a court.

 Similar spying attitudes.

Consider these telling quotes from Google’s leadership.

  • If you have something you don’t want anyone to know, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place” said Google Chairman Eric Schmidt on CNBC.
  • "We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about;" said Google Chairman Eric Schmidt per the Atlantic.
  • We want Google to become the third part of your brain;” said Google co-founder Sergey Brin per Business Insider.
  • "I don't believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time," Google Chairman Eric Schmidt toldthe WSJ.
  • There’s been spying for years and there’s been surveillance for years and so forth, I’m not going to pass judgment on that, it’s the nature of our society” said Google Chairman Eric Schmidt last month per RT.

A decade of spy cooperation.

Consider how Google has cooperated with America’s intelligence collecting services over the last decade.

  • In 2004, Google’s purchased the CIA/In-Q-Tel-funded  Keyhole to enable Google Earth.
  • In 2008, Google sold servers to U.S. intelligence services.
  • In 2009, Google asked the NSA for help in warding off Chinese hackers who broke into Google and stole their entire password system.  
  • In 2010, a U.S. spy agency offered Google an exclusive no-bid contract for its mapping service, most likely because of its 2004 acquisition of CIA/In-Q-Tel-fundedKeyhole for Google Earth.    
  • In 2010, Google Venture co-invested with the CIA’s investment fund In-Q-Tel in Recorded Future.  

Conclusion

In sum, we have to ignore a lot of evidence to believe that Google is shocked that the NSA tapped into their well-known “open” system.

Simply, Google has more capabilities, to spy on more people, in more ways, more intimately, than any other private entity ever. This makes Google, Big Brother Inc., and a uniquely valuable, one-stop, spy partner, wittingly or unwittingly, for any sovereign Big Brother wannabe to leverage.  

[Originally published on Precursor Blog]

Scott Cleland

Scott Cleland is a precursor: a proven thought leader with a long track record of industry firsts.... (read full bio)