Don’t Be Evil: Google and the Government

It was at this point that I realized Eric Schmidt might not have been an emissary of Google alone. Whether officially or not, he had been keeping some company that placed him very close to Washington, DC, including a well-documented relationship with President Obama. Not only had Hillary Clinton’s people known that Eric Schmidt’s partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel. While WikiLeaks had been deeply involved in publishing the inner archive of the US State Department, the US State Department had, in effect, snuck into the WikiLeaks command center and hit me up for a free lunch. Two years later, in the wake of his early 2013 visits to China, North Korea, and Burma, it would come to be appreciated that the chairman of Google might be conducting, in one way or another, “back-channel diplomacy” for Washington. But at the time it was a novel thought.

When Google Met Wikileaks

A novel thought indeed. These are the words of Julian Assange, from his 2014 book, titled When Google Met WikiLeaks. In his signature aloof manner, he speaks of how Google and the US Department of State do for each other what the one, for reasons legal, social, or otherwise, cannot. This kind of back-channel politics is seen throughout the ranks of the Council on Foreign Relations, allowing governments to violate the rights of their citizens through the actions of corporations, and corporations to reshape government through their lobbying and close connections.

Google is not what it seems. None of the largest companies in Silicon Valley are. While on their surface they promote an image of youthful exuberance and disruptive challenges to the status quo, the impenetrable highest eschelons of these companies are run by those whose primary goals are indistinguishable from the goals of entrenched Washington bureaucrats and governmental intelligence agencies.

The words “Don’t Be Evil” can be found in the prospectus for Google’s initial public offering of stocks from 20041, in the company’s code of conduct, and emblazoned on walls within the Google Campus in Mountain View. The company’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, said they wanted a corporate culture requiring objectivity and eschewing bias and conflicts of interest.

But evil was nonetheless there at the very beginning, long before the dot-com bubble, when Brin and Page were still just PhD students. While they proudly proclaim that it was the National Science Foundation’s Digital Library Initiative2 which helped them develop the ‘QueryFlocks’ algorithms3 that eventually became Google, the DLI was not their only source of funding. Sergey Brin also received funding from the NSA and CIA-sponsored Massive Digital Data Systems project, through a company called MITRE Corp4. From 1994 until the month before he chose to incorporate the search engine company in 1998, Sergey Brin was regularly reporting to two intelligence community representatives, Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham and Dr. Rick Steinheiser. Steinheiser would then become Google’s CIA liaison, after Brin and Page received funding from the CIA’s Office of Research and Development5. And CIA funding, through the CIA and NGA front-company In-Q-Tel6, also helped produce the Keyhole satellite imaging software which would be purchased by Google in 2004 to become Google Maps.

As far back as 2010, other tech companies were jealous of the integration of Google and the Obama government: “the US government [is] fronted by Obama, powered by Google,” according to a manager at Microsoft quoted in the Financial Times7 8. Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, had a well-documented relationship with Obama9 10, and invested a lot of money into a company called The Groundswork in 2015 to assure Hillary Clinton would replace Obama as President11. Google has also served as a revolving door for former Democratic civil servants and campaigners, with dozens of people moving from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Clinton’s foundations to Google in the last 3 years, and many Googlers moving on to work for the Clinton Foundation12 13.

Shannon Jones Newberry went from Deputy Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Clinton Global Initiative to Manager of Communications and Public Affairs for Google14.

John Lyman went from Chairman at the Clinton Global Initiative to Head of Partnerships and Marketing at Google15.

Derek Parkham went from Deputy CTO at Google to work for the 2016 Clinton Campaign16.

Peter Albers17. Jeff Lawi18. Felicia Salinas19. Scot Frank20. The list goes on, and on, and on. Google is so tightly integrated with the Clinton campaign that Mr Schmidt himself tried to get a role within the campaign as ‘head outside advisor,’ and pushed for meetings with the campaign in its earliest days21 22. In a number of e-mails from WikiLeaks, we can see that it was Schmidt outlining campaign plans for Hillary, and taking an active role in deciding, among other things, what to budget and where where campaign offices would be set up23.

The lines separating the government and Google are so blurry, it is almost as though they do not exist; this was only further reinforced by the leaked video of an all-hands meeting at Google shortly after the 2016 election24.

In light of how deeply integrated Google and the Clinton campaign were, it’s no wonder they treated it as if they themselves had lost the Presidency. In a way, they had. Google employees are often Clinton employees, and billions in “silent donations” were made by Google for the expressed benefit of the Clinton campaign.

There seems to be nothing that the Obama and Clinton-led Democratic Party does, without Google’s direct involvement, from the highest echelons of the company. But it’s not just the Democrats; as revealed earlier this year, the Department of Defense has contracted Google in what’s called “Project Maven,” an artificial intelligence project meant to greatly improve drone-strike targeting systems25 26. This decision, much like their decision to create a censored search engine app for China27, drove many employees of the search giant to quit, and 3,100 employees to sign a petition28 demanding Google cancel Project Maven, stating that “Google should not be in the business of war.”

They’re also in the business of violating every student’s privacy, through a joint venture with the Department of Education to push Chromebooks into every school29 30. According to a 2017 investigation by the Electronic Frontier Foundation31:

Student laptops and educational services are often available for a steeply reduced price, and are sometimes even free. However, they come with real costs and unresolved ethical questions. Throughout EFF’s investigation over the past two years, we have found that educational technology services often collect far more information on kids than is necessary and store this information indefinitely. This privacy-implicating information goes beyond personally identifying information (PII) like name and date of birth, and can include browsing history, search terms, location data, contact lists, and behavioral information. Some programs upload this student data to the cloud automatically and by default. All of this often happens without the awareness or consent of students and their families.

This issue was addressed loudly in April 2018, when a coalition of over 100 organizations in 31 states, expressed their condemnation for the government and Google taking part in collecting the private data of children, and urged Congress rewrite the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA32 33. As of publishing this, however, no action has been taken to rectify the egregious violations of children’s privacy, and Google holds the database in their hands – just as they hold your e-mail, your search and browsing activity, and so very much more in their hands.

It was said by a reporter that “Google is the safest company to trust your data with, so long as you trust Google,” but their trustworthiness has been called into question time and time again in the last decade. They have become a direct extension of the Department of Education, Department of Defense, the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, and even the White House. They receive billions of dollars in taxpayer’s dollars, and lobby to assure they are able to act with impunity, even at the expense of small businesses and startups who refuse to be bought out by the search giant. If there is any better definition of crony capitalism, I do not know it.

But we are then left with a simple question: why? Why has Google, more than any other company in history with perhaps the exception of the Federal Reserve, been allowed to so completely integrate itself with our government, and violate the human rights of people across the globe at the behest of our government, behind closed doors?

In my opinion, it all comes back to their seemingly-innocuous motto which was discussed at the beginning of this video: “Don’t be evil.” If you were to speak to any of the tens of thousands of employees at Google, you might disagree with them politically but you would find them all to be kind-hearted, in search of a better world, and willing to do anything to make that better world. These are not evil people; they think what they are doing is in the best interests of everyone. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the inability to see one’s bias, which was made patently clear in the leaked video of the post-election Google meeting, can lead people to do the worst things imaginable for the best of reasons.

Why is a difficult question to answer. Thus far, I’ve provided you with a large data dump of Google’s malfeasance, but this is but the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to be discussed, in order to truly answer why they’ve become such an invasive octopus of overwhelming influence and power, which is why this video will not be standing alone. Next week, I’ll be publishing another video, diving deeper into the personalities that make up Google’s cult of personality, and the people who have helped make Google an extension of government from the outside, as well. But I implore you to read the sources in the footnotes and links found in the transcript of this video, and see for yourself just how much there is to see about Google’s corrupt relationship with our government. I’ll see you next time.