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  • Chegan SRM

Google: The Unrecognized Connection to the Intelligence Community

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Two decades ago, the US intelligence community partnered with Silicon Valley in a bid to track citizens across cyberspace. Google, the world's leading search engine, was at the heart of this effort. Funding and coordination was provided by a research group established by the intelligence community with the goal of finding ways to monitor individuals and groups online. This collaboration has led to the creation of a modern mass-surveillance state.

The backstory of this collaboration begins with the intelligence community's realization that the private sector had more resources to fund the development of supercomputing networks. DARPA, the agency responsible for emerging technologies for military, intelligence, and national security purposes, had already created the architecture and scaffolding of the World Wide Web. The intelligence community sought to guide the creation of these networks for their own purposes by providing grants to leading computer scientists at universities like Stanford, CalTech, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Harvard. This program, called the Massive Digital Data Systems (MDDS) project, was managed by large military and intelligence contractors.

MDDS funded research by two Stanford graduate students, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who were making rapid advancements in web-page ranking and tracking user queries. This research became the foundation of Google. The intelligence community, however, was interested in the ability to track individuals and groups based on their digital fingerprints. This tracking would become invaluable in counter-terrorism and homeland security efforts.

Though Google has denied receiving direct funding from the CIA, the MDDS grant, which was specifically designed for the breakthroughs that became Google, has largely faded into obscurity. The intelligence community's efforts to fund, coordinate, and guide the development of supercomputing networks was successful, as evidenced by the frequent requests for information from companies like Verizon, AT&T, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. The collaboration between the intelligence community and the tech giants has been a success, providing the intelligence community with the tools it needs to identify and track people and groups.

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