Google's privacy record isn't great - and this deal with the CIA will send activists into a spin.
Google has decided that it doesn't get enough bad press about its sometimes shaky commitment to the ideals of personal privacy, and has teamed up with the CIA to invest in Recorded Future, a web monitoring package described as 'the ultimate tool for open-source intelligence.
The search and advertising giant has, according to Wired
, invested $10 million into the company behind the software - mainly, it would appear, for the services it can offer in terms of building a picture of the growth of trends in advertising.
However, the CIA's involvement - with In-Q-Tel, the body's investment arm, putting in an equal $10 million stake - is sure to raise eyebrows amongst privacy lobbyists - especially as Recorded Future is known for providing its monitoring and predictive services to government agencies in the name of anti-terrorism.
With Fast Company's Addy Dugdale describing
Recorded Future as having 'a real feeling of Minority Report, [and sounding] like the kind of tool that will be used to predict crimes
' those who are already concerned about the volume of personal data Google compiles on anyone using its services - knowingly or, with the launch of such schemes as Google Analytics, unknowingly - are likely to take a dim view of the deal.
Worse still is the company's involvement with the CIA: while it's not thought that the partnership extends beyond investing in the same company, for the multi-national Google to be seen cosying up with a secretive US intelligence agency could well prove something of an international PR nightmare.
Are you concerned that Google is getting a little too
friendly with the CIA, or is this just a case of two separate entities investing in the same company for their own unique reasons? Share your thoughts over in the forums