Google's Next Victim? British Intelligence Services
from the killing-industries-before-killing-industries-was-cool dept
Google is at it again. Not content to singlehandedly destroy the motion picture, music, news and road map industries, Google’s all-seeing eye, combined with its search engine, is now threatening the livelihoods of British intelligence agents, who will now be expected to tell their superiors “something they don’t already know.”
According to Sir David Pepper, former director of the UK Goverment Communications Headquarter, the “Google effect” of having so much information available online has “substantially raised the threshold for producing intelligence for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.”
“Nobody wants the easy stuff anymore and there is no point spending effort and money collecting it,” said Sir David, who was giving the annual Mountbatten Memorial Lecture at the Institution of Engineering and Technology.
“Many of the sort of things for which [officials] once would have turned to the intelligence agencies are now readily available to them online,” he said.
“Thanks to Google Maps and Streeview anyone can today see photographic detail of far away countries which hitherto would have been available only through secret and highly sophisticated national satellites.
“Intelligence producers have had to become very sensitive to this phenomenon and very careful not to put effort into producing intelligence that purports to be secret which is in fact not secret at all.”
Now, not only is it going to be tougher for spies to outspy Google, but results will now be expected to compete with Google’s famous fractions of a second.
Sir David Pepper also said “the Google effect” meant that officials who use secret intelligence were demanding it quicker than ever before.
“If the intelligence readers are used to getting information online very fast they’re going to expect the intelligence agencies to be able to do much the same thing,” he said.
It’s not all bad news, however. The “Google effect” can also be used for good, rather than just as a tool to put industries out of business.
But online information was offering opportunities as well as challenges to those in the espionage trade, Sir David said. “You can find out a lot about potential spies without ever meeting them, simply by looking at their online footprints,”* he said.
*(Henceforth referred to as the “Facebook effect.”)