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Clandestine Operations at Google 166

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the spooks-at-the-goog dept.
eldavojohn writes "The San Francisco Chronicle is running an interesting story about Google's involvement with the CIA, NSA, NOAA and several other agencies. This has been speculated before although now Google seems to have several contracts open with several agencies. From the article, "When the nation's intelligence agencies wanted a computer network to better share information about everything from al Qaeda to North Korea, they turned to a big name in the technology industry to supply some of the equipment: Google Inc. The Mountain View company sold the agencies servers for searching documents, marking a small victory for the company and its little-known effort to do business with the government. 'We are a very small group, and even a lot of people in the federal government don't know that we exist,' said Mike Bradshaw, who leads Google's federal government sales team and its 18 employees.""
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Clandestine Operations at Google

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  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Monday March 31, 2008 @11:49AM (#22921790) Homepage

    The NSA has always kept a close relationship with corporations. See Bamford's Body of Secrets [amazon.com] for plenty of examples. They aren't even limited to wooing American companies, as they had a long hold on a Swiss crypto equipment manufacturer. Whatever enticements they offer, they seem to work.

    I've oft heard the conspiracy theory that Google was set up just to develop better resources for government privacy violations. Has any elaborated version of this ever been formally published?

    • by PrescriptionWarning (932687) on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:39PM (#22922358)

      I've oft heard the conspiracy theory that Google was set up just to develop better resources for government privacy violations. Has any elaborated version of this ever been formally published?

      They're probably too busy smokin pot to finish it up...

      that's right, REEFER!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31, 2008 @01:05PM (#22922672)
      "I've oft heard the conspiracy theory that Google was set up just to develop better resources for government privacy violations. Has any elaborated version of this ever been formally published?"

      I did a search for that on Google, and nothing turned up.

    • by kestasjk (933987)
      April fools?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by chunk08 (1229574)
        Its a day early... Practice maybe?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by beav007 (746004)
          Contrary to the beliefs of most American citizens, the USA is not the world. It is in fact April 1 here, and has been for 8 and a half hours. It had been for 5 and a half hours when you posted:

          by chunk08 (1229574) on Tuesday April 01, @05:30AM (#22925160)

          Due to an invention called "timezones", virtually everyone around the world gets to experience midday when the sun is highest in the sky. In fact, traveling across these "timezones" allows people, objects, and data, to travel through time, both forwards a

  • Clandestine? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kevin_conaway (585204) on Monday March 31, 2008 @11:50AM (#22921804) Homepage

    I don't see anything clandestine about a software/hardware company providing software/hardware solutions to the Federal government, especially when said information is printed in a nationally recognized newspaper and linked on a major news aggregator.

    It seems more like an opportunity to get the Google haters and rumor mongers fired up.

    • by Enderandrew (866215) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {werdnaredne}> on Monday March 31, 2008 @11:51AM (#22921812) Homepage Journal
      I agree. Is IKEA evil if they provide the NSA with desks?
      • by techpawn (969834) on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:05PM (#22922006) Journal

        Is IKEA evil if they provide the NSA with desks?
        No, but the NSA does have to build the desk themselves... and they'll have all these parts left...
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by UnknowingFool (672806)

          No, but the NSA does have to build the desk themselves... and they'll have all these parts left...

          So what you are saying is that IKEA is EVIL then. :P

      • by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:27PM (#22922234)

        I agree. Is IKEA evil if they provide the NSA with desks?
        It depends, do they provide special waterboarding boards?
      • MOD Parent up (Score:4, Insightful)

        by notnAP (846325) on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:31PM (#22922260)
        Mod up either as funny or insightful.

        Breaking News! (Bah-deep beep... bah-deep beep beep...) Google has sold computers to the NSA. These computers are good for searching databases, something Google has a little experience doing. The NSA could be using these servers to SPY ON YOU! Film at 11.

        Staples has also been caught selling pens to the NSA, pens that may have been used to WRITE YOUR NAME ON THE TAB AT THE TOP OF A FOLDER!!!!!

        And bring it down to the local level, Jim Stevens, of "Jim's Roach Coach," was seen parking his Yuck Truck outside the caf door of the NSA, selling food at break time to NSA employees, who MAY BE USING THOSE CALORIES RIGHT NOW TO SPY ON YOU!!!!

        • by droopycom (470921)
          Hum thats funny...

          I swear I have seen "Jim's Roach Coach" in front of my company building the other day... I assumed that he was there to feed the utility workers who were doing some work on our internet line... Its a funny coincidence that "Jim's Roach Coach" was also seen at NSA headquarter...the utility workers might not be what they seem...

        • by rtb61 (674572)
          You seem to be confusing the nature of the tool. Is taser inc evil for creating a weapon that will be used to torture and punish people, and then creating a marketing campaign to hide the lethality of the device. Was starforce evil for creating a DRM tool that would surreptitiously install a hidden driver that would damage peoples hardware and then creating a marketing campaign to mislead people about the nature of the tool.

          So, is google evil for designing and creating software tools to mine peoples priva

      • by linumax (910946) on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:42PM (#22922392)

        I agree. Is IKEA evil if they provide the NSA with desks?
        No, but they are evil if they provide Microsoft with chairs.
        • by mdielmann (514750)

          I agree. Is IKEA evil if they provide the NSA with desks?
          No, but they are evil if they provide Microsoft with chairs.
          Pfft. IKEA doesn't sell consumables.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by losttoy (558557)
          Could not resist this. Who sells windows to Microsoft? Lowe's or Home Depot, maybe!!
      • Personally, I think IKEA is evil regardless of whether or not they supply desks for the NSA, but that's just me...
      • Indeed the summary makes the deals seem more nefarious than a public company providing a product to a government entity. The extent of the contracts seems to be limited to what Google already provides to the general public.

        Google's Bradshaw emphasized that the company sells virtually the same products to companies as it does to government agencies. Google can make minor tweaks to comply with government rules about equipment security, for example, while major customization is handled by others.

        Also $2 m

      • No, but then they return them to IKEA and there is this wierd humming noise coming from inside one of the "Glützergödel" table legs.
    • Re:Clandestine? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday March 31, 2008 @11:52AM (#22921832) Homepage Journal
      I also don't see why it's so evil to have Google sell its appliance to Government customers. As for needing a special "government guy", anybody who works in the industry will tell you that no matter what it is, the Government does it differently. Hiring a guy (or team of people) who know how to handle the Government is practically a necessity if you want to make sales like this.
      • Re:Clandestine? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by houghi (78078) on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:30PM (#22922258)

        Hiring a guy (or team of people) who know how to handle the Government is practically a necessity if you want to make sales like this.
        I agree. Where I used to work we had a person who did all the contracts with the governements (we have several in Belgium), cities and other official customers.
        he als had a different target, Profit was not his main goal. The largest amount of equipment was. That way we could advertise that we we largest in the country for our product.
        There was at least one person in each of the European countries.
      • Re:Clandestine? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by joggle (594025) on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:40PM (#22922376) Homepage Journal
        You're absolutely correct. I have a friend that is in charge of overseeing contracts to a major defense contractor for the Feds and it's a mind-boggling complex process. On her end she has had to go to at least a dozen courses to get to where she's at now and I have every reason to believe that it is as complicated on the client-side. The contractor has 6-12 full-time employees to handle contracts on their side while the Federal government has a corresponding group that works full-time with them (for contracts ranging from $50 million to about $250 million, roughly).
        • by NateTech (50881)
          Stop and think...

          We pay for all that horseshit process crap.

          You think it's worth it?

          Re-read that line that says Total Tax Liability on your 1040 this year, and see if you think you got that many dollars worth of something from your government.

          Then vote accordingly in every election that will make even a small difference.
          • by joggle (594025)
            She says it's overly complicated, but many of the complications were added over the years to close loop holes that contractors and/or corrupt government employees were exploiting. In a way it's nice to know that federal money is spent with so much review under most circumstances. Unfortunately, there's way around this process at higher levels using no bid contracts and with legislators simply inserting pork barrel spending into laws with almost no oversight on how exactly that money is to be spent.

            If it mak
    • by Gerzel (240421)
      Indeed. Nor does it really need to be printed, perhaps made available upon request, but this doesn't seem clandestine at all. After all the CIA also needs pencils do we really care what pencil manufacturer sells them their pencils, as long as everything was done properly and fairly?
    • "I don't see anything clandestine about a software/hardware company providing software/hardware solutions to the Federal government, especially when said information is printed in a nationally recognized newspaper and linked on a major news aggregator."

      BSOD jokes aside, I think if it were Microsoft providing NSA (or the military, or any security agency) software for the purposes of intelligence gathering, you'd see quite the different reaction here, and I think most of the threads would be about how evil bo
    • by ajs (35943)

      I don't see anything clandestine about a software/hardware company providing software/hardware solutions to the Federal government

      Just so. In fact, Google has an easy-to-use URL for this service which is available to anyone: http://www.google.com/enterprise/ [google.com]

  • by Malk-a-mite (134774) on Monday March 31, 2008 @11:51AM (#22921816) Journal
    Oh no! Google is working with the CIA, the NSA, and the NOAA... wait what?
    Almost had the evil government owns Google effect there, unless we are suggesting that Google now controls the weather as well.

  • Orly? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31, 2008 @11:52AM (#22921828)
    Never, ever, in my wildest dreams would I have thought that Google, the company that through their "free" services of e-mail, realtime chat, calendars, spreadsheets, economy, planning, blogging etc. hoards immense amounts of personal data about an enormous group of people would ever deal with agencies with a grande interest in that very same data.

    *ring ring*... *ring ring*... oh, there's someone on the FU**ING CLUEPHONE FOR YOU.
  • by esocid (946821) on Monday March 31, 2008 @11:55AM (#22921860) Journal
    but anything in every article has the citation needed tag.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Monday March 31, 2008 @11:55AM (#22921862)

    (some newspaper) is running an interesting story about (some company)'s involvement with (government)... From the (original press release), "When the (government) wanted a (product with extensive capabilities), they turned to (company) because (pitch). '...a lot of people in the (target market) don't know that we exist,' said (sales exec), who leads (some company's) government sales team...""


    "interesting story" = "warmed over press release"? Zzzzz.....
  • Google and the IRS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Uroborus42 (1262304) on Monday March 31, 2008 @11:55AM (#22921866)
    Hell, I remember years ago when my father, who works for the IRS, mentioned that Google had given the IRS a trial run of a new search system they designed for their internal network. He said that the old system they had been using was so horrible and inefficient that the difference was like night and day. Of course, the management eventually decided that Google's solution was too expensive and so to this day they are still using some horrible, antiquated search system.
    • Last I heard the IRS still had football-field-sized warehouses stacked floor to ceiling with reel to reel 1/2" tapes.

      I can just see a Google appliance in use there - a tiny box spidering a hectare of moldering IBM 360s, with 60 operators standing in line waiting to mount tapes.
  • 'We are a very small group, and even a lot of people in the federal government don't know that we exist,'
    If they didn't know before, they know now.
  • sneaky weather men (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zehaeva (1136559) <<zehaeva+slashdot> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday March 31, 2008 @11:58AM (#22921926)
    The word "Clandestine" being associated with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) seems a bit ... weird. I can't seem them spying on or killing someone for .. well anything.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Digi-John (692918)
      Shows how much you know. "Heavy thunderstorms expected in the Sierra Nevadas with potential hail" is actually code for "Execute Plan Alpha; bomb Beijing immediately."
      • by Nutria (679911)
        Shows how much you know. "Heavy thunderstorms expected in the Sierra Nevadas with potential hail" is actually code for "Execute Plan Alpha; bomb Beijing immediately."

        President Reagan "announced" over an open mic the beginning of the nuclear bombardment of the Soviet Union. Why do we need anything more clandestine when announcing the destruction of the chicoms?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by squidfood (149212)

        Shows how much you know. "Heavy thunderstorms expected in the Sierra Nevadas with potential hail" is actually code for "Execute Plan Alpha; bomb Beijing immediately."

        Hey, we at NOAA do oceanography too, and we had absolutely nothing to do with those reports of that giant-tentacled rubber-suit-looking creatures that washed up oh excuse me, my boss is trying to tell me someth

    • by cbart387 (1192883)
      Now if they mentioned NUMA and Mr. Pitt, well that would be a different ... story.
      • Now if they mentioned NUMA and Mr. Pitt, well that would be a different ... story.


        Not necessarily since Mr. Pitt is now almost exclusively behind a desk and Mr. Giordino is off running around with his hot wife. Mr. Austin has now picked up Mr. Pitt's duties with Mr. Zavala providing the overbearing hormones. Then again, all of Pitt's and Austin's stories are pretty much the same. Just different places and people.

        Nice reference though.

  • NOAA?! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Not Evil" my ass -- what do *you* call a weather machine!
  • Do no evil? (Score:2, Funny)

    by jollyreaper (513215)
    I guess it depends on what the definition of "evil" is. If the NSA can get to Google, I'm sure they can get to Merriam-Webster. Have they redefined "treason" as well?
    • Re:Do no evil? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScentCone (795499) on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:15PM (#22922126)
      If the NSA can get to Google

      You mean... with a purchase order? To buy search appliances? Just like they also buy air conditioning equipment, sandwiches, and carpeting?

      Have they redefined "treason" as well?

      Right, because being a vendor to federal IT users is ... treason!

      How do you even function, day to day, behind all of that tinfoil? I mean, doesn't it get hot and itchy after a while?
      • WHOOOOOOOSH!
        • by ScentCone (795499)
          WHOOOOOOOSH!

          Would that be the sound of numerous slashdot users nodding their heads in unison because they absolutely believe that any IT company doing business with the NSA is evil? Because if you bother to read the comments following up on ANY article that touches on these subjects, you'll see the very loud, utterly humorless, non-stop blathering of uninformed, clueless groupthink drones who drool that exact sentiment onto their keyboards every day.
          • Quick, go, before the NSA hacks this one [merriam-webster.com] out!
    • Apparently not [google.com].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:20PM (#22922160)
    For the most part, this slashdot thread is flamebait. Google, like Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, RedHat, Novell, AT&T, and most other large corporations work with and sell to the US Government. How many government databases are on Oracle? How about Oracle+RedHat or Oracle + SUSE. Does this make Oracle evil? RedHat evil? This is mostly not news.


    Google is the best in search (currently). They provide appliances that can be used on closed networks (for example classified). There are MANY applications for these devices. The US Government is a BIG customer and can be a good partner. Despite what you may read here, not all the US Government does is evil....

    • by BruceCage (882117)
      I wouldn't call it flamebait and it doesn't really matter anyways. It resulted in some of the funniest comments I've read in a while and that makes it all worth it.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      "Despite what you may read here, not all the US Government does is evil...."

      That's the interesting part. Shouldn't it be a little worrisome that the bulk of people on a site as big as Slashdot think that doing business with the US Government makes you evil? Presumably because they believe the US Government itself is evil?
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:25PM (#22922204) Homepage

    Google sells an enterprise search appliance [google.com]. It's not cheap. "Starts at $30,000 for searching up to 500,000 documents", for a 2U server. That's probably what this is about.

  • Trickledown (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pragma_x (644215) on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:33PM (#22922284) Journal
    As far as I can tell, there's no reason to label this as "clandestine". It looks to me like GOOG is just doing what publicly held businesses do: make money and court the biggest customers they can.

    The upshot to this is that this is one place where the Federal government at large actually provides something for the public good, even if it is a few steps removed from joe sixpack. Since the NSA has some of the most stringent security requirements outside of most casinos, they're likely to push Google to improve their products in ways the rest of us can't. Take Net BSD for example. Anyway, that's likely to trickle down to the rest of us in the form of a more robust line of Google appliances and more. Another possibility is that Google may also have to learn how to become more nimble as a company in order to meet tougher requirements for Government-contract volume, reliability and ease-of-handling-red-tape. Again, that can work out for everyone.

    The downside is that throwing Google style power at large, parallelizable computing tasks, might send us rocketing down a rather slippery slope if it were used for less-than-legal *coughATTcough* purposes. Yea, we're all tempted to file that one under "-1 No Duh", but I think it bears mentioning all the same.
    • I don't know about the level of involvement, but I found the last Google filing with SEC pretty odd [quarterbuck.com]. I have no clue why Google would want to vote for censorship!
      • Re:Trickledown (Score:4, Interesting)

        by pragma_x (644215) on Monday March 31, 2008 @01:41PM (#22923060) Journal
        Thanks for the quarterbuck link. I had no idea people were reporting on this stuff.

        Therefore, be it resolved, that shareholders request that management institute policies to help protect freedom of access to the Internet which would include the following minimum standards:

        1) Data that can identify individual users should not be hosted in Internet restricting countries, where political speech can be treated as a crime by the legal system.

        2) The company will not engage in pro-active censorship.

        3) The company will use all legal means to resist demands for censorship. The company will only comply with such demands if required to do so through legally binding procedures.

        4) Users will be clearly informed when the company has acceded to legally binding government requests to filter or otherwise censor content that the user is trying to access.

        5) Users should be informed about the company's data retention practices, and the ways in which their data is shared with third parties.

        6) The company will document all cases where legally-binding censorship requests have been complied with, and that information will be publicly available.

        Required Vote

        Approval of the stockholder proposal requires the affirmative "FOR" vote of a majority of the votes cast on the proposal. Unless marked to the contrary, proxies received will be voted "AGAINST" the stockholder proposal.

        Recommendation
        Our board of directors recommends a vote AGAINST the stockholder proposal.


        Unless it's a typeo, or Google is simply trying to avoid having to move a mountain of red tape every time it does something, that does look a little fishy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:39PM (#22922364)
    I used to work for a company that has supplied TLA's (and other companies) with search products for years, and this doesn't look like much of a story.

    This is a fairly generic search product, and with that little revenue, it can't be getting much penetration. Most of the value in these sales is in system integration with other document processing, email, multimedia, and so on, and not the core search engine. It's a battle to close each deal, but usually there's good money in customizing the product to meet each situation.

    Google wanted to buy us at one point, but Larry and Sergei were too put off by having to do sales and customer engineering (services model), and went back to their hammocks. Still, I think they could do OK in this market, since their main competitor can't do engineering management to save its life.
  • Coming soon from EA...
  • well maybe our tax dollars will finally buy a system that works for a change. there's no more PROMIS's out there to steal, so gotta pay for new development I guess.
  • by binaryspiral (784263) on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:45PM (#22922444)
    "Clandestine Operations at Google", puhleeeze. This story is so much FUD I can't take it. Google sells search appliances to the government. The appliances are 2U Dell servers running a locked down, customized version of RedHat. These appliances contain a crawler, a ton of storage, and a customized application to create a very good search index and interface with the data. They can also be clustered to offer even more capacity... but they don't report any of their findings to Google, the run on their own in their own network.

    If you need to have Google service the appliance, you can instruct the device to SSH to a Google server where the tech will access it remotely and make changes or troubleshoot. Or you can plug a modem into the serial port and the tech can dial in.

    Either way - you control access.

    We have two of these appliances at work churning through wikis, sharepoint sites, NFS stores, and company intranet pages. SharePoint search sucks - so that was the first to get axed. Everything else was added, just because we could.

    I, for one, am glad the government is using modern technology to improve efficiency. Someone actually gets it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SirWhoopass (108232)
      Exactly.

      Having worked in the military on the "high side" network, it was great when Google's search became available. There had been numerous other engines available prior to that, including an early Yahoo and Alta Vista. Anyone who has been around a while can appreciate how great it was to search using Google instead of a cira-1999 Alta Vista query.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by binaryspiral (784263)
        Too right... stand along yahoo and altavista search engines were (and still are) free for a reason. Most other enterprise search tools are too Microsoft Office centric to be useful for web based documentation.

        I love the GSA we have... it *just works*.
    • by Plugh (27537)

      Quoth the parent: I, for one, am glad the government is using modern technology to improve efficiency

      Clearly you have not learned from history nor have you given a good read to much of what the American Founders wrote. An "efficient" government is exactly what I don't want.
  • by jalefkowit (101585) <jason AT jasonlefkowitz DOT net> on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:49PM (#22922484) Homepage

    Don't be [REDACTED].

  • Google sells a GSA to a large agency that happens to be government. Is it news that they've sold identical hardware to other corporations? OH NOES, THE WORLD IS ENDING!
  • NOAA is the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Weather service, National Hurricane Center, etc.. are part of NOAA.

    Either their activities are not very clandestine or they are really, really good at hiding them, Dirk Pitt notwithstanding.
    • by mcmonkey (96054)

      Either their activities are not very clandestine or they are really, really good at hiding them

      Exactly. What is best place to hide something? In the exact place where everyone expects that something to be.

      Someone spots a satellite that's not on any official lists and no markings of ownership or purpose? OMG CEILING CAT IS WATCHING ME TRAIN MY PARAMILITARY REVOLUTIONARIEZ!!!11ONE

      Someone spots a satellite with a big NOAA sticker on the side? Oh, that's just the Hurricane Tracker 3000.

      Sort of like

  • ads (Score:2, Funny)

    by smithcl8 (738234)
    Imagine the ads they show within their search results! Some agent searches for "The Base" and gets margin ads for Kevin Costner flicks.
  • I thought it was going to be about Google being evil, not about Google selling computers to the spooks.
  • Well, of course this story is not about spies infiltrating Google, per se. It's about Google infiltrating the spies. The deals (AFAWCT) don't send any of Google's private operational data (eg. your searches, your GMail.com ID, etc) over to the spooks. The spooks are just using the same platforms as Google developed for itself.

    But these are spooks. I doubt they'll let their agencies become dependent on Google without having some "leverage", like spies planted inside to be sure "business is operating accordin
  • Little Known? (Score:3, Informative)

    by madsheep (984404) on Monday March 31, 2008 @02:46PM (#22923632) Homepage
    What do they mean by "little known" here? I think probably every major federal agency probably has at least one Google Search appliances and they sell several other services. I think -every- company like this wants to work with the government, it's not some secret they're a big market. Hell, Google has space on NASA property and I here's an article from Slashdot from 2006 about them entering into a partnership with NASA:

    http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/12/18/1640230 [slashdot.org]

    They've also voluntarily turned over data to the feds before as made very public. Where's the the secrecy about working or wanting to work the government? Let's not forget their job posting for a Federal Sales person - http://www.google.com/support/jobs/bin/answer.py?answer=80784 [google.com]
  • ...supply others with the ability to do what they want.

    Let their evil be on their heads, eh? Works for me. Besides, paying customers are very nice.

    My captcha is 'virtuous'. So when did /. install the 'ironic captcha' system?

  • by Fynnsky (1238708)
    So when the NSA searches for my personal information, will they get sidebar ads for beer and porn?
  • Wow! Google sells search/mapping appliances to the IC. The indignity! And Google has a Federal sales team!!!! Why, only those who read Google's job postings would know that. This is stupid. How in the heck is this news worthy?
  • by John Sokol (109591) on Monday March 31, 2008 @03:25PM (#22923996) Homepage Journal
    99% of us are really doing the most mundane of things, and little that any government agency would care about.
      Heck we would even had a hard time even figuring out how to do something they would even care about.

      This stuff where domestic terrorist spying was used against Eliot Spitzer's bank transactions is just plain wrong. But in the end there is no point it crying about it, again most of us will also not be worth bothering with. I am more concerned with then starting to going after tax evaders or pot smokers, by wholesale automated domestic spying.

      From my former hacking past. If they thought you were involved in something they'd just ransack your house, empty it and deny doing it. google "steve jackson games" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jackson_Games [wikipedia.org] for example. The Wiki entry doesn't do justice to the severity of what really happened.

        So electronically seeing everything I am doing so they can see it's really nothing of any interest to them is better at least for me on some level.

      It's been my experience with cops and other groups like this that if you walk around with black cloths and black ski mask at night this will draw far more attention if you'd planning on doing something wrong then if you wore a bright orange reflective jacket and helmet, and white overalls in the middle of the afternoon.

      In black they will arrest first and ask questions later where with the bright uniform, you just look like your supposed to be there, and never get a second glance.

      Same with technology, I have friends that do everything with PGP, 3DES, AES etc. It will only make them get put under more scrutiny.

      I'd bet I were planning on doing something wrong that I could get away with so much more if I just keep everything in clear plain text, just for the fact that they are expecting people to act secretive and raise a red flag when doing something wrong.

      On 9/11 they were looking for all kinds of secret dangerous thing, explosives, and poisons etc..

      But no it was Box Cutters, We are talking about a few f**king 99 Cent box cutters that took down the 2 tallest building in the United States, and brought our economy to a stall, started 2 wars, and cost us Billions upon Billions looking for all of the wrong things and push our gas prices to $4 per gallon, and it still not over. That box cutter might even escalate with WW III.

    Albert Einstein quote - I don't know how man will fight World War III, but I do know how they will fight World War IV; with sticks and stones.
    This is more damage then what we could ever do with Billions of dollars of super secret high tech aircraft.

      This an example where KISS - Keep it stupid and simple is most effective.

        If you think about all of the homeland security, there is still painfully little they can do against the box cutter type of attack. Something so mind boggling trivial and stupid you'd never think about it.
      But it's these things that could lead to a terrifying chain reaction.

      So if all my docs are up on Google and easily readable, these numb nuts of the government are far less likely to even notice me or bother me, then if I were trying to pass around encrypted docs, then they will spend millions to decode them and then start monitoring my every action. Because If I am hiding something I must be doing something wrong?

    They never believe it was just grandma's cookie recipe as you try to explain this while being water boarded.

    • by McDutchie (151611)

      Same with technology, I have friends that do everything with PGP, 3DES, AES etc. It will only make them get put under more scrutiny.

      This is why it's so essential to get everyone to use strong encryption by default. Philip Zimmermann said it best [philzimmermann.com] back in 1991, in the original PGP user's guide:

      What if everyone believed that law-abiding citizens should use postcards for their mail? If a nonconformist tried to assert his privacy by using an envelope for his mail, it would draw suspicion. Perhaps the autho

      • I have read Philip Zimmermann book when It came out and clearly remember the remark.

        Problem is several fold.

        1.) SMTP is by default clear text.
        2.) POP3 & IMAP are also.
        3.) There is a shortage of good mail clients that can support PGP or any encryption.
        4.) It was probably too lated to change things when Philip wrote those words in 91.
        I remember the resistance and confusion with getting Kerberos, SSH, SSL and IPSEC out there.
        5.) Key exchange has always been awkward at best, and
        • by McDutchie (151611)

          I can only assume either they had a sufficient way to break these codes in 1997 or there was too much critical mass to change clear text systems to encryption. Maybe both.

          Strong open source encryption algorithms such as those used in PGP/GnuPG and OpenSSH are open source and widely available all over the world. Believing that the US government has had some secret way to break them since 1997 would require believing that the US government either is much smarter than all of the world cryptographic communit

          • No it more of the level of compute power available to the NSA is orders of magnitude more then we think it is.
            Many orders of magnitude, and specifically designs for cracking specifically these types of codes.

            In addition it's been 1 single Chinese woman Xiaoyun Wang in Beijing who in 10 years cracked 5 of the most secure hashes we have.

            So if one woman in China can crack so many of these, then what can an army of Benchley park types do?

            http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/02/16/0146218 [slashdot.org]
            http://developers.sl [slashdot.org]
  • Google has been selling their search appliance boxes for years. The fact that they've been selling them to the spooks is hardly shocking. http://www.google.com/enterprise/gsa/index.html [google.com]
  • by Mayday (17204) on Monday March 31, 2008 @05:21PM (#22925084) Homepage
    There are a lot of products out there to let you search the internet but not so many that allow you to search the intranet. The DoS needed to search 1 million documents, provide a frontend easily, and secure it with SAML. The Google Appliance does all this and for a fraction of the price that everyone else offers. We used to use Convera but the product ran in java and required a huge number of resources. It did not provide a great frontend to do translations and I lost sleep at night trying to keep the software running 24/7. With google I am sleeping normal hours and my biggest problem is with the editors and the content. They also just released a sharepoint connector to crawl and index a sharepoint server and its content. Overall, the goal of the government should be to search the million if not billions and billions of documents, provide value, and make it secure. Also, I think every man, woman, and child has used Google so it is an easy interface and no learning curve.
  • I bet that..... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by failedlogic (627314) on Monday March 31, 2008 @07:26PM (#22926194)
    They also use Word, Word Perfect or Open Office to type their clandestine documents, some might drink Starbucks coffee before work, eat McDonalds for lunch, drive to work in a Ford and have an AT&T cellphone. See all these companies provide services to Clandestine operatives.I guess I won't be buying any of the products I mentionned.

    Where do people come up with this stuff? If they used Apache, MySQL, Oracle, Linux, Unix, a computer, a PC, a Mac or whatever would that also make the news? Perhaps there should be an article for each! Sheesh!

"The only way for a reporter to look at a politician is down." -- H.L. Mencken

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