Julian Assange: Google's Basic Business Model 'Same as the NSA's'
In a conversation with “Imaginary Lines” host Chris Spannos, WikiLeaks founder and Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange discussed his new book, “When Google Met WikiLeaks,” which is based on a conversation Assange had with Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.
Assange’s book was published by OR Books on Sept. 18.
Spannos asked Assange why he described Google as an “empire.” Assange responded:
“That phrase, ‘evil empire,’ was introduced by Reagan in the 1980s to describe the Soviet empire. But of course encoded within that is that the other empire is not an evil empire. The U.S. empire is a ‘don’t be evil’ empire. And that phrase of “don’t be evil” was adopted by Google and promoted by Google in terms of how it was going to do things. And it was used quite effectively to lull people into a false sense that Google was a different type of company. Combined with its basic business model of creating a free services trap — ‘your email is free, just give it all to us; this web search is free, just tell us all the things that you’re searching for’ — permitted a perception that Google was not like a normal for-profit company, that it was not a great big U.S. institution that has all the same problems as companies like Coca-Cola or Lockheed Martin or Raytheon. And in fact, in the very beginning of Google perhaps that was true, when it was a small startup in California. But as it got very large, like many companies it also entered into a relationship with the state. It needed that relationship in order to pursue its foreign markets and so on. And it now has involvements in every single country in the world, perhaps other than North Korea. And the result of that, you know, it’s the second largest company in the United States. It deals with billions of people every day, collecting the information of billions of people every day. Google is an empire. There’s a question about what are the relationships to that empire. Who is it allied to? What is its ideological position? What is its basic business model? Its basic business model is the same as the National Security Agency — collect the world’s information, store it, index it and work out how to predict people based on that. That’s its basic business model. It can’t change from that. Its basic political alignments are reflected by the business deals it has with the U.S. government, its definition as being formally part of the U.S. industrial base, and the ideological views of its executive leadership, which are documented in the book, which can simply be described as, you know, American, centrist, aggressive American exceptionalism.”
— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.