Saturday, March 16, 2019

Google's Misplaced Loyalty

The last time Google executives appeared before a Congressional committee they professed enduring and unalloyed patriotism. Naturally, the weak-willed members of Congress did not call them out on their refusal to work with the Pentagon on a drone project. And they did not call them out on their work with the Chinese military.

Now, however, Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has raised the issue of Google’s patriotism before a Senate Committee. One remarks, if only in passing, that while the testimony received less media attention than your average presidential tweet, the truth is, that in the realm of communications strategy, the message was much more powerful being delivered by a leader of the American military.

Town Hall has the story:

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that Google is helping China’s military more than it is helping America's military.

“The work that Google is doing in China is indirectly benefiting the Chinese military,” Dunford said.

“We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing that there is that indirect benefit. Frankly, ‘indirect’ may be not a full characterization of the way it really is, it is more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military.”

Alarmed by what Dunford had told the committee, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley summarized the top general’s point: “We have an American company that does not want to do work with our Defense Department, which is one thing, but they’re happy to help the Chinese, at least the Chinese government that is, the Chinese military, at least indirectly. I think that’s just extraordinary,” he said.

CNBC reported the details:

Dunford’s comments come in the wake of the tech giants’ decision not to pursue some of the Pentagon’s lucrative contracts while considering projects in China.

In October, Google said it would no longer compete for the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, cloud computing contract, an award that could be worth $10 billion. Google said that the contract may conflict with its corporate values. In addition, the company also said it would not renew a Pentagon contract that analyzed aerial drone imagery for the military.

Meanwhile, it was revealed last year that the tech giant was studying the idea of working with the Chinese government on “Project Dragonfly,” a censored search engine that would block certain sites and search terms. More recently, after pushback from politicians and activists, Google said it had dropped those plans.

Again, the issue is patriotism, the extent to which one of America’s greatest companies is loyal to America. Our nation is engaged in brutal competition with China… and Google, being a transnational citizen of the world, is refusing to work with the Pentagon. It has no such scruples when it comes to working with China.


UbuMaccabee said...

Google, like most corporations, has no fear of the normals. The normals do not fight back. Does Google fear the political process breaking them up? No. Does Google fear a user backlash and people abandoning its platform or services? No. Google is too big to fail, too intrinsic to the IT infrastructure to have any concerns. We don’t tell them how it is, they tell us how it is. And as AlphaZero gets redirected to play politics and media manipulation, I’d say the future belongs to Google, not some fusty old Marine general.

Learning Mandarin will provide a short term value.

Sam L. said...

Google is all for Google, and nobody else. I do what I can to avoid them.

trigger warning said...

This is precisely why I shed no tears over non-participation of the software giants in national security contracting. I think of them as Krushchev's Rope.

As I've noted before, there are plenty of tried and true military contractors. The reputation of left-wing software engineers as Wizards of Wonder springs from (probably unemployed) tech media gullitards. Think Google Glass, Google+, and Google Notebook.