How Dangerous Is Google Becoming To Democracy?

21st November 2016 / Global

Julian Assange once said of Google: “A “don’t be evil” empire is still an empire.” How true those words are turning out to be.

It is imposible to calculate the volume of internet traffic any one company as large as Google is responsible for. It is simply too complicated to work out. However, there is no doubt that Google has the lions share. On August 16th 2013, Google went offline for a few minutes. In that few minutes, global internet traffic crashed 40% and when the service was back up online a few minutes later, there was a 50% increase in traffic volume, suggesting that Google has around half of all internet traffic flowing over its network. Since then, it is suspected that Google is responsible for as much as two thirds of traffic delivery. There is no doubting then, that this one company, wielding considerable power in the information war if it so decides to engage in one, is a formidable organisation. Bit is it one to be feared?

Google, once nothing more than a search engine, has now morphed into a monopolistic colossus where competition is being devitalised the larger it gets. Google has frequently acquired companies just for the sake of patents (just like Apple), stealing valuable human resource and quite simply to grind away at its competition. Government’s around the world are becoming fearful of organisations like Google. If you tax it, don’t like its power of influence, be it political or otherwise, Google can simple turn against you. Hence the reason why competitions and mergers and anti-trust agencies have remained largely silent all over the West.

Google now look more like a surveillance Industrial complex the closer it gets to global domination of the information highway. It is forging a path to reach command and control over what we consume and how it is delivered to us and thus have the ability to influence our choices and behaviours. Never in the history of mankind has any one entity had such totality and leverage of information.

It is becoming clear that the aspirations of the world’s largest search engine have also become geopolitical. This is evidenced by senior executives of Google diverting their attention from core business activities and immersing themselves in that of the global superpower and its politics.

From The Intercept: “Joshua Wright has been put in charge of transition efforts (for Trump’s new administration) at the influential Federal Trade Commission after pulling off the rare revolving-door quadruple-play, moving from Google-supported academic work to government – as an FTC commissioner – back to the Google gravy train and now back to the government.”

But just to explain a little more about Joshua Wright, it was reported by Recode last year that he was a “commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission who has been viewed by some as troublingly pro-Google, is leaving the agency. The FTC announced the news on Monday. When Wright was appointed in 2012, he faced criticism for his positions on Google of aggressive antitrust action. So he recused himself from cases involving the search giant for two years, including the high-profile case [against Google that the FTC failed to prosecute in 2013 and which is currently being vigorously pursued by the European Commission].”

The European Commission filed a third anti-trust charge (July 2016) against Google for what it alleges was “abusing its dominance in search to benefit its own advertising business” and “raised concerns that Google has hindered competition by limiting the ability of its competitors to place search adverts on third-party websites, which stifles consumer choice and innovation.” There is a probe underway into Google’s alleged abuse of Android. Rivals have been complaining about unfair advertising exclusivity clauses and undue restrictions for years and the EC Commission have been filing cases against Google since 2010 as a result. Frankly, the EU Commissioner’s have made little or no impact in regulating Google. Make no mistake, Google will do what it takes, legal or otherwise to ensure its dominance, and the bigger the dominance the less regulators can do to curtail their activities.

And what all this indicates is that information and the management of it is becoming crucial on the geopolitical chessboard. Again Assange asserted that “What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century, technology and cyber-security companies will be to the twenty-first.” 

Aljazeera America revealed in May 2014 after it obtained two sets of email communications dating from a year before Snowden became a household name that suggest not all cooperation by tech firms such as Google was under pressure by the US authorities as had been professed when it came to privacy and data.

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On the morning of June 28, 2012, an email from Alexander (NSA Director) invited Schmidt (CEO Google) to attend a four-hour-long “classified threat briefing” on Aug. 8 at a “secure facility in proximity to the San Jose, CA airport.” They were obtained under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the first of dozens of communications between the NSA chief and Silicon Valley executives.

Alexander, Schmidt and other industry executives met earlier in the month, according to the email. But Alexander wanted another meeting with Schmidt and “a small group of CEOs” later that summer because the government needed Silicon Valley’s “help”. With what, is not entirely known.

Fast forward and Reuters reported in May of this year that “Eric Schmidt will head a new Pentagon advisory board aimed at bringing Silicon Valley innovation and best practices to the U.S. military.” One can only wonder what is really behind this decision. The Pentagon’s main role in this world is the delivery of death and destruction under the guise of ‘democracy’.

Schmidt later went to working directly with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, according to a memo contained within an email released by WikiLeaks, again, something we would not know of if it had not been for whistleblowers.

The head of Google Ideas (Google’s think tank) Jared Cohen, along with Schmidt co-wrote a policy piece for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) journal Foreign Affairs, praising the reformative potential of Silicon Valley technologies as an instrument of US foreign policy. CFR’s membership has included senior politicians, more than a dozen secretaries of state, CIA directors, bankers, lawyers, professors, and senior media figures. The CFR promotes globalization, free trade, a desire to reduce financial regulations on transnational corporations; you can see immediately why Google would want to be involved in legalising tax evasion. The CFR’s role, by its own admission, is to influence foreign policy by making recommendations to the presidential administration and is, without doubt, America’s most influential foreign-policy think tank.

Controversy has been at the door of CFR as it has been accused for years of “conspiring with others to build a one world government.” This is something that people like Schmidt see in the future. A few huge transnational corporations operating the infrastructures of the entire world with Google at the heart of it.

In March this year truepublica wrote an article exposing a company called ‘Groundwork’. “It focuses in on a company you’ve never heard of called “Groundwork.” It’s a startup company backed by Eric Schmidt whose sole purpose appears to be to get Hillary Clinton elected President. As Quartz opines “it is one of a series of quiet investments by Schmidt that recognize how modern political campaigns are run, with data analytics and digital outreach as vital ingredients that allow candidates to find, court, and turn out critical voter blocs. It is also no coincidence that Michael Slaby, who runs Groundwork was the chief technology officer for president Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. And, it’s no coincidence that former Google executive Stephanie Hannon is the Clinton campaign’s chief technology officer and Schmidt is one of the most powerful, influential and wealthy donors of the Democratic party.”

Even though Clinton lost the campaign this time it really only demonstrates one thing. Google is not above acting in a manner to deliberately interfere in the political outcomes of the world’s most powerful entity – the American government. As Google’s domination grows so will its political influences. Transnational corporations don’t like rules, particularly ones driven by democratic values, hence the reason why Google is keen on trade deals like TTIP, CETA and the like, whose primary role is to destroy citizen rights and usurp public interest regulations in favour of profit and power.

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