Is Google saying one thing and doing another – yet again?
Given how many times we know Google has misled everyone about the implications of its activities, we should be highly-skeptical of Google’s public claims about what it will do with its nascent Titan drone surveillance capability.
This week Google said it bought Titan Aerospace, which makes solar-powered, high-flying drones, ostensibly because they “could help bring Internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation.”
Titan euphemistically calls its drones “atmospheric satellites,” when anyone that sees a picture or video of one, can tell they are basically an unmanned propeller plane. Apparently that is an attempt to distance Titan’s unmanned spy-planes that fly at 65,000 ft from America’s manned U-2 spy-plane that flew at 80,000 ft and that was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960, or the spy-plane drones the U.S. military/CIA have flown for about the last decade to surveil and eliminate identified terrorists.
In the post-Snowden world, when Google’s mission and business model are all about tracking, surveillance, and profiling most everything about most everyone, does Google expect foreign governments and other people to believe that Google’s real plans are not to augment their unmatched surveillance capabilities even further with drone sweeps?
With these drones, who would ever know that they were being spied on from overhead at 65,000 ft, if one did not have access to military-grade radar or real satellites to detect them?
Google obviously sees these drones as a way to massively upgrade and augment Google’s real time mass surveillance of the world for a variety of purposes. Google never does things small. It’s always a moon-shot.
While Google may assume that in the U.S. that they could fly drones above the 60,000 feet limit of FAA regulation, with the assent of their friends in Washington, the rest-of-world is a completely different proposition.
Post Snowden, most nations around the world would likely strongly object to Google flying spy-drones constantly over their sovereign territory at spy-plane altitudes, especially when they could pretty safely assume that the NSA could gain access to whatever images, tracking and human intelligence the Google drone air force could vacuum up.
Why should we be highly-skeptical of Google’s claimed innocent, humanitarian-motivated, spy-drone plans? Google routinely says one thing and does another. Consider the following evidence.
Google-NSA Cooperation Deception: Google claimed to be outraged upon learning that the NSA directly tapped into Google’s internal network of data centers via PRISM to surveil whatever it wanted. However, NSA General Counsel, Rajesh De, testified under oath at an oversight hearing in March, that NSA’s PRISM surveillance program occurred with the “full knowledge and assistance” of Google and other American companies.
Moreover, Google has closely cooperated with America’s intelligence services for a 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. In 2010, Google Venture co-invested with the CIA’s investment fund In-Q-Tel in Recorded Future. And just this week we learned that U.S. intelligence services are modifying and encrypting the software to use Google Glass.
Google-StreetView WiSpy Deception: Remember that for three years, in 33 countries, several thousand Google Street View cars took pictures of people’s homes without ever-disclosing that all these cars also were retrofitted with antennas to secretly intercept homeowners’ WiFi router signals – a practice that a U.S. appeals court ruled was illegal wiretapping, and that multiple countries also found illegal.
Gmail-Wiretapping Deception: Just last month we learned that a Gmail wiretapping court case established that Google was intercepting and reading all emails via a “Content One Box” before they were even delivered to the user, without the user’s knowledge/consent, or any public disclosure, for the last three years. Only this week did Google change its Terms of Service to admit that it actually does what it never told anyone that it did.
Android-Tracking-Deception: In 2011, Google Android devices were caught secretly collecting, storing and tracking users’ locations roughly by the minute without users’ knowledge or consent.
Android’s Default Break-in Deception: Security blogger Donovan Colbert discovered that Google’s Android Operating System by default secretly and automatically accessed and used encryption key pass-codes and passwords to access their secure networks without any permission or public disclosures of this default break-in practice.
In sum, its well established that Google has a long record of misleading and misrepresenting its intentions and business to the public with benign “change the world” PR cover stories, especially when it involves threats to people’s privacy or its close alignment with the NSA.
Google’s new planned Titan drone air force is no more going to be used exclusively for humanitarian purposes than Google’s new military robots are only going to be used exclusively for peaceful in-home robotic helpers.
Google is learning that it is hard to cover-up the obvious inherent conflicts of publicly operating as a consumer advertising company that ostensibly cares about privacy, while at the same time rapidly positioning to become a leading U.S. military and intelligence contractor in mapping, artificial intelligence, robotics, and aerospace surveillance.
Google Spying Series
Part 1: All the Blackmail-able Info that ‘J. Edgar Google’ Collects on You [7-17-08]
Part 2: Google’s Interventional Targeting: Get into People’s Heads? [5-19-09]
Part 3: Big Brother NSA: Google-NSA Through a Foreigners Eyes [3-9-10]
Part 4: What Else Does Google Secretly Track? [6-2-10]
Part 5: Google’s Total Information Awareness - One-Page Graphic of Info Google Has [6-4-10]
Part 6: Google China License: What’s the Rest of the Story? [7-9-10]
Part 7: Big Brother Inc. Implications of Google Getting No-Bid Spying Contract [8-25-10]
Part 8: Google’s Deep Tracking Inspection [8-31-10]
Part 9: Google’s Mandatory Location Profiling/Tracking [11-1-10]
Part 10: Google’s Deep Aversion to Permission [3-10-11]
Part 11: Google’s No Privacy by Design Business Model [3-17-11]
Part 12: Google’s Rogue WiSpy Invasive Behavior Proliferates [6-17-11]
Part 13: Why Google is Big Brother Inc. - One-Page Graphic [6-10-13]
Part 14: Google Spy [7-8-13]
Part 15: Google Spy-Glass - Google’s Big Rest of World Trust Problem [9-8-13]
Part 16: Top Questions for Google at Cato’s NSA Surveillance Conference [10-8-13]
Part 17: Google’s Faux Outrage Over NSA Spying - Part 17 Google Spying Series [11-1-13]
Part 18: Rebutting Mr. Ammori’s “Blame the NSA not Google” USA Today Op-ed [11-23-13]
Part 19: Are Google Glass’ Recordings Illegal Wiretapping Too? [12-9-13]
Part 20: Google’s Robots and Creeping Militarization - Daily Caller Op-ed [1-9-14]
Part 21: Google & NSA Aligned on “No Expectation of Privacy” [2-5-14]
Part 22: Google’s Widespread Wiretapping Could Have Snowden-esque Repurcussions [3-20-14]