Republishing ‘When Google Met WikiLeaks’

Originally published at Café Babylon on Oct. 6, 2014.   It seems even more relevant today than it did then.  It’s longish, so hang in there if you're able. In these post-‘Capitol’ social media de-platforming days, remember that (Chrome) Google algorithms suppress websites from the conservative and religious right to the ‘subversive left (wsws and popular resistance, for instance).  And Google bought Youtube in Oct. of 2006 for a paltry $1.65 billion.

If you haven’t read it and seen the captioned photos, you’ll love ‘Google Is Not What It Seems’ by Julian Assange, an extract from his new book When Google Met Wikileaks, wikileaks.org

Also see Scott Ritter’s ‘By banning Trump and his supporters, Google and Twitter are turning the US into a facsimile of the regimes we once condemned’, RT.com, Jan. 9, 2021  Two excerpts:

“Digital democracy became privatized when its primary architect, Jared Cohen, left the State Department in September 2010 to take a new position with internet giant Google as the head of ‘Google Ideas’ now known as ‘Jigsaw’. Jigsaw is a global initiative ‘think tank’ intended to “spearhead initiatives to apply technology solutions to problems faced by the developing world.” This was the same job Cohen was doing while at the State Department.

Cohen promoted the notion of a “digital democracy contagion” based upon his belief that the “young people in the Middle East are just a mouse click away, they’re just a Facebook connection away, they’re just an instant message away, they’re just a text message away” from sufficiently organizing to effect regime change. Cohen and Google were heavily involved the January 2011 demonstrations in Egypt, using social networking sites to call for demonstrations and political reform; the “Egyptian contagion” version of ‘digital democracy’ phenomena was fueled by social networking internet sites run by Egyptian youth groups which took a very public stance opposing the Mubarak regime and calling for political reform.”
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On Sept. 18, Julian Assange’s new book of that name was published. The material was largely fashioned by conversations he’d had with Google’s Eric Schmidt in 2011 at Ellingham Hall in Norfolk, England where Assange was living under house arrest. The ostensible purpose of the requested meeting was to discuss idea for a book that Schmidt and Jared Cohen (advisor to both Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton) were going to write, and in fact did: ‘The New Digital Age’ (2013). They were accompanied by the book’s editor Scott Malcomson, former senior advisor for the UN and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, who eventually worked at the US State Department, plus Lisa Shields, vice president of the Council on Foreign Relations, closely tied to the State Department, who was Schmidt’s partner at the time. Hmmm. The plot, as they say, thickens. From the book’s blurb:

‘For several hours the besieged leader of the world’s most famous insurgent publishing organization and the billionaire head of the world’s largest information empire locked horns. The two men debated the political problems faced by society, and the technological solutions engendered by the global network—from the Arab Spring to Bitcoin. They outlined radically opposing perspectives: for Assange, the liberating power of the Internet is based on its freedom and statelessness. For Schmidt, emancipation is at one with US foreign policy objectives and is driven by connecting non-Western countries to American companies and markets. These differences embodied a tug-of-war over the Internet’s future that has only gathered force subsequently.’

Some background that will hopefully entice you to listen to the 42-minute Telesur video (sorry, no transcript) I’ll embed below; this is the short version: ‘Assange claims Google is in bed with US government’

Note that in other interviews Assange names ‘other private and public security agencies’ as well, and names the figures showing how deep Google is into smartphones and almost every nation on the planet. ‘Do not be evil’.

If your appetite hasn’t been sufficiently whetted to watch the 38-minute Telesur interview, you might at a minimum read ‘When Google Met WikiLeaks: Battle for a New Digital Age’ by Nozomi Hayase. An excerpt or three, after reminding us that in his earlier 2012 book Cypherpunks, Assange had said that “the internet, our greatest tool for emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen”:

‘Assange unveils how, contrary to Google’s efforts to create a positive public image by giving away free storage, making it appear not like a corporation driven solely by profit motives, this seemingly philanthropic company is a willing participant in its own government co-optation. Indeed, he argues, Google Ideas was birthed as a brainchild of a Washington think-tank.

Assange described how “Google’s bosses genuinely believe in the civilizing power of enlightened multinational corporations, and they see this mission as continuous with the shaping of the world according to the better judgment of the ‘benevolent superpower.’” (p. 35). This process is so gradual and discrete that it is hardly conscious on the part of the actors. This digital mega-corporation, through getting too close to the US State Department and NSA, began to incorporate their ambitions and come to see no evil. This internalization of imperial values created what Assange calledthe impenetrable banality of ‘don’t be evil’” (p. 35). It appears that bosses at Google genuinely think they are doing good, while they are quickly becoming part of a power structure that Assange described as a “capricious global system of secret loyalties, owed favors, and false consensus, of saying one thing in public and the opposite in private” (p. 7). Allegiance creates obedience and an unspoken alliance creates a web of self-deception through which one comes to believe one’s own lies and becomes entangled in them. [snip]

‘…Assange pointed to how “the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps” (p. 43).

Google does not see evil in itself. By embedding with U.S. central authority, this global tech company not only fails to see the invisible fist of “American strategic and economic hegemony” that dictates the market, but moreover aspires “to adorn the hidden fist like a velvet glove” (p. 43). By advancing the force of monopoly, they subordinate civic values to economic and U.S. hegemonic interests and escape any real accountability. They no longer recognize the unmediated market that responds to people’s demands, a true market that functions as a space of democratic accountability. This normalization of control leads to a subversion of law, creating a rogue state where a ripple effect of corruption is created, as individuals, companies and the state each betray their own stated principles.’

In a sense, one might conclude that Assange’s new book is in itself another leak. In publishing what one might call the “GoogleFiles”, Assange conducts his usual job of publishing in the public interest with due diligence by providing the verbatim transcript and audio of the secret meeting. This time, the source of the material was Google themselves who sought out Assange for their publication.’

How wonderful it is that he’s rocking Google’s Very Large Boat. Hayase also writes that Cohen and Schmidt engage in their own ‘statist’ version of the ‘good whistleblower/bad whistleblower meme we’re familiar with. Pfffft.

Google used its front page to back the US government’s campaign to bomb Syria: snapshot

More if you’d like it:

From HuffPo’s: Julian Assange Fires Back At Eric Schmidt and Google’s ‘Digital Colonialism’, one exchange that’s significant:

HP: What about the substance of Schmidt’s defense, that Google is pretty much at war with the U.S. government and that they don’t cooperate? He claims that they’re working to encrypt everything so that neither the NSA nor anyone else can get in. What would you say to that?

JA: It’s a duplicitous statement. It’s a lawyerly statement. Eric Schmidt did not say that Google encrypts everything so that the US government can’t get at them. He said quite deliberately that Google has started to encrypt exchanges of information — and that’s hardly true, but it has increased amount of encrypted exchanges. But Google has not been encrypting their storage information. Google’s whole business model is predicated on Google being able to access the vast reservoir of private information collected from billions of people each day. And if Google can access it, then of course the U.S. government has the legal right to access it, and that’s what’s been going on.

As a result of the Snowden revelation, Google was caught out. It tried to pretend that those revelations were not valid, and when that failed, it started to engage in a public relations campaign to try and say that it wasn’t happy with what the National Security Agency was doing, and was fighting against it. Now, I’m sure that many people in Google are not happy with what has been occurring. But that doesn’t stop it happening, because Google’s business model is to collect as much information as possible and people store it, index and turn it into predictive profiles. Similarly, at Eric Schmidt’s level, Google is very closely related to the U.S. government and there’s a revolving door between the State Department and Google.

For the Pffft factor plus some history of WikiLeaks’ betrayal by both Daniel Domscheit-Berg (his Wiki), and the Guardian, the Daily Dot’s: ‘When WikiLeaks cold-called Hillary Clinton’,

including:

‘Within hours, Harrison’s call was answered via State Department backchannels. Lisa Shields, then-Google Executive Eric Schmidt’s girlfriend and vice president at the Council on Foreign Relations, reached out through one of WikiLeak’s own, Joseph Farrell, to confirm it was indeed WikiLeaks calling to speak with Clinton. [snip]

‘But in an act of gross negligence the Guardian newspaper—our former partner—had published the confidential decryption password to all 251,000 cables in a chapter heading in its book, rushed out hastily in February 2011.(1) By mid-August we discovered that a former German employee—whom I had suspended in 2010—was cultivating business relationships with a variety of organizations and individuals by shopping around the location of the encrypted file, paired with the password’s whereabouts in the book. At the rate the information was spreading, we estimated that within two weeks most intelligence agencies, contractors, and middlemen would have all the cables, but the public would not.’

Background on the Rassmussen story to make sure he was elected head of NATO by shutting down Roj TV: Interview: Roj TV, ECHR and Wikileaks by Naila Bozo

Bonus WikiTweet:

@WikiLeaks
Students Sue Google for Monitoring Their Emails http://mashable.com/2014/03/19/students-sue-google-gmail/ …

Note: Easy Copying from the Café to the Café didn't go well. Everything doubled up, and not in the same order, and none of the quotation font colors hopped aboard. But it is what it is, and trying to repair it further seems Quixotic.

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wendy davis's picture

'Srsly, how hard is it to take Presidential elections er… seriously?, March 2, 2016

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I have not felt this kind of interest in the interconnected webs of deceit in our government since I read The Devil's Chessboard.

Thanks so much Wendy!

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"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

wendy davis's picture

@Fishtroller 02

welcome. i'm embarrassed to say that i'd totally forgotten that i'd had the 'WikiLeaks cold calls hillary clinton' at the bottom all this time.

of course, marcy wheeler (i mean Dr. epmptywheel) likely think it's a #Fake.
; )

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lotlizard's picture

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wendy davis's picture

@lotlizard

we owe julian and the WikiLeaks team so much, don't we? and yet we're so powerless to save his life; it seems as tough even his dedicated legal team may notbe able to keep him out of Supermax florence, not to mention death within Belmarsh Gitmo.

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RantingRooster's picture

Great job connecting the dots. Google is not our friend.

When the internet first began, as the world wide web, to "Capitalists" it was viewed as the new "wild west frontier", no rules or regulations. Today, the internet has been so corporatized, homogenized, well, every where you go just about, it's like a version of what we see in reality, strip malls everywhere, the same chain restaurants, the same big box retail stores, the same "generic" stuff every where.

It's the same "Neoliberal" project, just carried out digitally. Monetize and privatize "services", extract as much profit as possible, deliver as little "meaning" as possible. All delivered because, you know, freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

Ziggy forewarned us about it years ago.
quote-soon-it-will-be-possible-to-assert-almost-continuous-surveillance-over-every-citizen-zbigniew-brzezinski-57-4-0406.jpg

All those intimate details people share on social media is mined, categorized, itemized, and sold, to sell you a bunch of crap you don't need or target voters to swing an election.

Whistleblower Christopher Wylie explains the science behind Cambridge Analytica’s mission to transform surveys and Facebook data into a political messaging weapon.

The IMF wants to use our internet browsing and search history to help establish your "credit score".

Four researchers examine the results of a working paper that explores the ever-evolving relationship between finance and technology. "We study the effects of technological change on financial intermediation, distinguishing between innovations in information (data collection and processing) and communication (relationships and distribution)," write the experts in their study.

The researchers further look at the possibility of using your browsing, search, and purchase history to determine your credit score. This may allow some individuals that are overlooked by financial institutions to have access to more loans, state the writers.

The researchers argue that if lenders have a better picture of a client's entire history, they may be more willing to be lenient with them. “Banks tend to cushion credit terms for their long-term customers during downturns,” they write.

(bold mine)
What could reviewing our browsing or search history have to do with our "credit scores" in anyway what so ever?

Gee, how has collected the most browsing and search histories from internet users?

The one thing I've taken to heart about this Neoliberalsim, what ever they say, The researchers argue that if lenders have a better picture of a client's entire history, they may be more willing to be lenient with them will be exactly the opposite.

i.e. Don't Be Evil.

I mean after all, Ziggy knows best!
quote-nation-state-as-a-fundamental-unit-of-man-s-organized-life-has-ceased-to-be-the-principal-zbigniew-brzezinski-111-11-40.jpg

Google is that kind of Multinational Company Ziggy describes above! And Julian Assange is the kind of person that has the journalistic integrity and heroic courage to expose it! (imho)

And the Neoliberal Project, hates him for it!

Again great essay Wendy!

Drinks

(Apologies, I can't spell or pronounce his name properly, so I call him Ziggy)

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C99, my refuge from an insane world. #ForceTheVote

wendy davis's picture

@RantingRooster

'Zbig'. ; ) my apologies for not answering your comment sooner, but i was either too upset about julian or i'd eaten something that didn't agree with me...or both, and i shut down early with a (rare) tummy ache. i've spent most of the last two days packaging up nice things to give local friends as we continue to downsize our possessions.

thanks for wylie's cambridge analytical exposé. same shit, different capitalist deep state shit.

forbes says eric schmuck schmidt was worth a cool $7.27 billionn in 2021. pentagon must pay him well, eh? bet that's not a line-item in the 'for public' budget.

thanks for commenting and reading.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

Painful, but provocative.

The US is truly corrupt beyond reform. In my mind I see it fast receding in my rearview mirror.

Thanks for reposting it.

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"There will be no end to the troubles of States, or of Humanity itself, until Philosophers become Kings in this world — or until those we now call kings and rulers truly become Philosophers." — Plato
wendy davis's picture

@Pluto's Republic

i ended up leaving some bits on the cutting room floor, but as i'd said at the top, its more relevant now than it was then, imo.

part of 'soft power', indeed.

the only way the US will end up in our rearview mirror if one of those asteroids on RT.com's click baits drops on top of out hogan on a hill. before we sleep, one of will say: 'ka-ching! mark another day off on the cell wall!'

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Pluto's Republic

unless you mean the part of the U.S. that resides between the ears of its erstwhile citizens. That's where the fight is, and they're beating the shit out of us.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

wendy davis's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

and i thank you profusely for your principled, detailed, and prosaic defense of the free speech rights of donald trump. guess we can't call him Boss Tweet any longer, can we? i wish i could write half as well as you're able to, but those days are long over for me.

as far as i'm concerned, this is when it all started: ‘Trump Unplugged & Trump Canceled’, 11/20/2020, caucus99percent.com

and this conspiracy had included NPR, which self-defines as: 'an American privately and publicly funded non-profit media organization'.

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snoopydawg's picture

@wendy davis

It looks like that was when they decided to deplatform Trump and his ideas on how the election was done. Why stop him from making accusations and instead ask him to prove it? Every person has the right to wonder if the election was fair. Especially since many of them said that Trump didn't win on his own, but with Russia's help. Boo. Poor loser. Hillary. People might want to take a 2nd look at it.

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“Restoring the soul of this nation” is just MAGA with more words

Twitter is like a game of telephone

wendy davis's picture

@snoopydawg

baracka's comment, close to: why do network teevee stations get to decide who won?'. i also wish i'd rebutted the first comment better.

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