Tell Me More About How Google Isn’t Part Of The Government And Can Therefore Censor Whoever It Wants?

in censorship •  11 months ago

When you tell an establishment Democrat that Google's hiding and removal of content is a dangerous form of censorship, they often magically transform into Ayn Rand right before your eyes.

"It's a private company and they can do what they like with their property," they will tell you. "It's insane to say that a private company regulating its own affairs is the same as government censorship!"

This is absurd on its surface, because Google is not separate from the government in any meaningful way. It has been financially intertwined with US intelligence agencies since its very inception when it received research grants from the CIA and NSA for mass surveillance, pours massive amounts of money into federal lobbying and DC think tanks, has a cozy relationship with the NSA and multiple defense contracts.

"Some of Google's partnerships with the intelligence community are so close and cooperative, and have been going on for so long, that it's not easy to discern where Google Inc ends and government spook operations begin," wrote journalist Yasha Levine in a 2014 Pando Daily article titled "Oakland emails give another glimpse into the Google-Military-Surveillance Complex".

"The purchase of Keyhole was a major milestone for Google, marking the moment the company stopped being a purely consumer-facing Internet company and began integrating with the US government," Levine wrote in a recent blog post about his book Surveillance Valley. "While Google’s public relations team did its best to keep the company wrapped in a false aura of geeky altruism, company executives pursued an aggressive strategy to become the Lockheed Martin of the Internet Age."

And now we learn from Gizmodo that Google has also been helping with AI for the Pentagon's drone program.

A Google spokesperson reportedly told Gizmodo that the innovations it is bringing to the Defense Department's Project Maven are "for non-offensive uses only," which is kind of like saying the beer kegs you delivered to the frat house are for "non-intoxicating use only." The DoD and its drone program exist to find and kill enemies of the US empire, and Google will be helping them do it.

"The department announced last year that the AI initiative, just over six months after being announced, was used by intelligence analysts for drone strikes against ISIS in an undisclosed location in the Middle East," reports The Intercept on this story.

Google is not any more separable from the US government than Lockheed Martin or Raytheon are, yet it has been given an unprecedented degree of authority over human speech and the way people communicate and share information. Would you feel comfortable allowing Northrop Grumman or Boeing to determine what political speech is permissible and giving them the authority to remove political Youtube content and hide leftist and anti-establishment outlets from visibility like Google does?

How is this a thing? How is it considered acceptable for a force which has intimately interwoven itself with government power to censor and manipulate political speech in ways the official government would never be allowed to?

The notion that Google is a private company, separate from the government and thus unburdened by obligations of free speech, is not a legitimate one. You don't get to create a power system where money translates directly into political influence and privatization creates symbiotic relationships between corporations and government agencies, create a beefed up Silicon Valley giant with research grants and contracts to prevent any competition from ever having a chance against it, involve that Silicon Valley giant in the agendas of the US war machine after you've helped it dominate the globe, and then legitimately claim it's just a poor widdle private business that shouldn't be subject to the legal limitations placed on the US government.

If you believe the government shouldn't be able to regulate speech, then there's no legitimate reason to believe that Google should be, because Google is part of the government. You shouldn't want there to be a loophole where government power can get around constitutional restrictions on its ability to silence dissent by funneling all speech into institutions it created and collaborates with and then quash anti-establishment voices under the pretense of protecting the public from "fake news" and "Russian propaganda".

There needs to be some sort of measure in place which protects the public from such manipulations. Either remove corporate power from government power or acknowledge that they are fully meshed and expand constitutional protections to the users of any media giant which has enmeshed itself in government power. Pretending corporate power and government power are separate when they are not while exploiting that inseparable symbiosis to silence political dissent is not acceptable.

Government should be a tool of the people to help the people, not a tool of the powerful to oppress and exploit the people. Something's going to have to change, and we're going to have to stop asking nicely.


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Excellent Article !!

But specifically what needs to be done about it?

The devil is in the details as they say. All too often, legislation that is supposed to "fix" a situation like this is really just setting up their next play.

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I use Bing as much as possible. Simply use the competition and hit them where it hurts. We must inform ourselves and act on this. This is the only way we can personally do our small part.

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Try DuckDuckGo as your search engine.

I switched a few weeks ago and it is great.

I wrote a post about it a little while ago - check it out.

It is independent of "Big Tech" and blocks alot of tracking networks for you automatically

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I've been duckduckgo myself for a couple of years now. That and Brave for my browser.

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I need to try Brave - thanks for the tip.

When you have access to the world's personal data you can no longer seriously claim to be a private venture whose internal practices have no bearing on anyone else.

Silicon valley, wall street the military industrial complex are all interconnected links of a capitalist system that is geared to ensure that the transfer of wealth from the 99% to the 1% continues ad infinitum.
Democrats/Republicans its all a game of tweedledum and tweedledee. Both are big business parties working hand in glove with all of the above. Lets get past this naive belief that we live in some kind of demockary.
Unless until wealth and power are physically taken away from the 1% then enjoy living in our present neo-feudal society!

Wow! Excellent article. To some degree, the other Silicon Valley giants and MSM are also entwined with the US government, but great example showing Google being an overgrown Deep State/globalist op.

Gee I would share this article on Twitter but they have restricted my account because of an old tweet which didn't violate their rules was apparently reported by somebody. Ironic really that you write this article while this happens to me.

I still wonder if Google is now a customer of the NSA or a customer of a customer. Do they have access to raw SIGINT?

I wonder how long it takes before these drones start to protect the plutocrats power against us?Then our future is like:

Yes. Gov't has been infiltrating business for a long time now although it now seems more insidious . I recently read a story how the FBI has paid informants working for them at The Geek Squad- a little division of the Big retailer Best Buy (headquartered in Mpls). The Geek Squad performs computer repairs and now snitches to the FBI when the find "questionable" things.

I support free speech but I do not support anonymity when speaking freely. People should face the consequences of their actions, and that includes their speech. You should not say things that will stirr up the public and not be associated with the things you have said.
For example, racists are afraid to be racist offline because they know that they will be ostracised for expressing their warped opinions, but they write all kinds of things offline in their thousands because they can avoid the their repercussions.
Anonymity should be reduced to the barest minimum.
This is the kind of censorship I support. Be man enough to stand by the harm you are causing in the world.

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I wouldn't be in agreement with that. Our local news station got rid of the Disqus account they had that allowed people to comment anonymously and went to using facebook so people making the comments would be known. One night discussing illegal immigration and stating I wasn't for open borders someone looked me up, found out where I lived, posted a picture on the site and told people they should come to my house and protest me. So no I am not a fan of such activity.

very passionate. i enjoyed the food for thought. We are further along in this takeover of the giants then i feel you give us credit for. i'm living a love based positive existence and i hope you do as well friend. i believe google is far more intertwined in or life than the government's. yet its hard to see the big picture when your part of the frame.

Really enjoying reading your work. Just a note on censorship...

peekier.com .. the only search engine I could find a post about 'the Red Pill Movie' after I accidentally closed the browser before commenting. At first I thought it was just because it was so new, but then I discovered other steemit posts from the same timeframe..

so I started a search for an uncensored search engine, and only peekier returned the results I was looking for.

interesting to note, in all cases I tried to use the time limiting tools (less than 12 hours old) and in many cases it returned 0 results.

so it isn't just google that is infected, the reach of the censorship is far reaching.

While I appreciate your viewpoint, and find it almost inarguable that, “government should be a tool of the people to help the people,” Yasha seems to emphasize that government censorship’s ubiquity makes the use of the internet for surveillance almost inevitable, at least for the foreseeable future. Attempts to evade it, like Tor, he points out, often end up simply tagging the user as a person of interest. And all the information ends up in the government’s hands anyway. He kind of mocks those who think they might overthrow the entire state apparatus via subterfuge plotted via the internet, “good luck with that,” as something not really likely or possible, sort of fairy-tale citizen activism.

What concerns him more are the uses to which the information is put in the consumer realm, and the vast amounts of computer power being used simply to market and merchandise shit. Analyzing your preferences and your footprint to figure out how to distract you more efficiently, and sell you something you don’t need more productively. That is what he sees as a waste, and a grave danger.

Please don’t get me wrong. The government being shitty is still shitty. And bringing light to the odious drone program always well seen. It was interesting to note that the previous administration occupied their President with the minutiae of approving every single strike. Droning is such an awful way of murder, that they reckoned they didn’t have the act of congress power to actually do it. And in some humane way, Barack’s dithering over this or that target, now or later, probably saved a few lives and made some drone attacks a tad less horrific, or prevented them happening at all (on the other hand, his lieutenants may have exercised more restraint, as conceivably they may have exercised less).

President Trump, however, quickly dispensed with such formalities, and reportedly told the military personnel under his command to get the job done (Apparently the military did have the capacity to make these decisions on their own, after all.). You have to kind of admire him for that, at least in an ontological way. One doesn’t condone the strikes at all, whether it’s the Commander-In-Chief, a general, or any other rank of the military carrying them out.

Your point seems to have been that those who believe Google is — not an arm of the government, but — a private corporation who should have the right to spy on whomsoever they choose, and to censor same, are deluded; that government and Google have been intertwined from the get go. The internet was set up as a tool for surveillance, and Levine’s book makes that point conclusively. The internet by now is a public utility and should be regulated and managed as such. The fiction that you have competing ISPs and phone companies is risible. The patina of competition is extremely inefficient, and frustrating and endlessly debilitating to the user. Of course Google’s going to try to stay on top of Drone software and utilization capacity.

CIA directors on TV. DoD running internet search... nice.

You remember the HB Gary and HB Gary Federal deal? Where HB Gary created HB Gary Federal as a .gov beard? HB Gary Federal was the above board, FOIA complying entity, and HB Gary was the .com providing the corporate veil for the real business.

Wonder if Google is actually the Deep State's corporate veil? Gulp.

Very good article. I still lean towards the "Google is a private company" argument - though I have disassociated from Google in protest and encourage others to also because of exactly these issues - but you definitely made me think more about it. I view it like Google is collaborating with the enemy - I have no desire to empower the enemy just so they can attack Google. For me, private property and freedom of association are principles on a par with freedom of speech. If, however, it turns out that the government is encouraging or forcing Google to silence free speech, then I will sue (or advocate suing) the government. Yes, I know I've simplified the issues. I am aware the issue is complex. I do welcome critique of my position and I'm happy to discuss it and consider alternative arguments.