UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) – In commemoration of Google’s 20th anniversary, many have been mainstream media to publish the history of the search engine giant, and especially the key moments of the past two decades.
However, each recap seems to omit the role that the CIA and other US intelligence agencies would have played in its creation.
Although the traditional chorus for Google’s 20th anniversary is to remember the defining moments of its development, the links of the research giant with the CIA and other more or less secret agencies were passed over in silence. Let’s start from the beginning.
In the early 1990s, US intelligence launched a bold initiative: In collaboration with leading universities and companies in Silicon Valley, California, spying agencies were looking for a way to monitor the activities of certain groups and individuals.
In the context of the computer boom, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) have not remained idle. In particular, the agencies are keen to take advantage of this and have launched an online platform to facilitate the collection of data on citizens.
And now Google enters the scene.
US intelligence has set up the Massive Digital Data Systems research program (MDDS), a project that outlined the challenges that agencies were facing and wanted to achieve.
“Changing demands require the intelligence community to process various types and volumes of data. As a result, this community plays a proactive role in stimulating research in the effective management of important databases, and also seeks to ensure that the requirements of the intelligence community are integrated or adapted into commercial products,” was it said at the time during a press briefing.
“The challenges are not unique for each agency. […] The management community staff tasked the Massive Digital Data Systems (MDDS) working group to respond to needs and to identify and evaluate possible solutions.”
To achieve these goals, the agencies issued a dozen scholarships worth a few million dollars each and distributed them among several teams in different universities.
Scholarships were to help accomplish the following tasks: online fingerprint identification of individuals and groups, link and rank their queries in order of importance, decipher any significant patterns emerging from this “data swamp”, plot their futures digital traces.
If successful, scholarship holders should be transferred to the private sector to increase their work. Many technology companies of modern importance have flourished – Google was among them.
The research under the two grants will, over time, be the raison d’être and fruit of the work of two researchers, Sergei Brin and Larry Page of Google, who can search for specific information from a vast data. That was exactly what the CIA and the NSA had hoped to create.
“In fact, the last time we met in September 1998, Brin showed us his search engine, which became Google shortly thereafter,” wrote Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, with whom the two researchers regularly coordinated their research.
Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham was an employee of the US defense group MITER Corp., the body that directs the research and development efforts of the NSA, the CIA, and the US Air Force Research.
Lying or just missing?
The information that the CIA was able to contribute to the creation of Google in one way or another is almost as old as the company itself, which categorically rejects these claims.
For example, in 2006 it was widely discussed that Google would have a long-standing relationship with US intelligence agencies, receiving funds from the community. A spokesman for the firm firmly refuted these allegations, calling them completely wrong.
Similarly, the company’s traditional history avoids mentioning MDDS grants. The scientific work of Brin and Page, The Anatomy of a Large-scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine , describing how they created Google, makes no mention of MDDS.
Thus, had it not been for Thuraisingham’s testimony, there might have been nothing learned about a possible MDDS grant to Brin and Page. Moreover, Professor Jeffrey Ullman has in a 2000 report described Google as a product of the research project.
Then another 1998 paper that mentions Brin and Page as authors, describes Brin as “partially supported by the MDDS management community.”