Spy Agencies Using Google

By Matthew Harwood

The federal government's intelligence community is relying on a big name to beef up information sharing across its spy agencies: Google.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

Spy agencies are using Google equipment as the backbone of Intellipedia, a network aimed at helping agents share intelligence. Rather than hoarding information, spies and analysts are being encouraged to post what they learn on a secure online forum where colleagues can read it and add comments ....The system is modeled after Wikipedia, the public online, group-edited encyclopedia. However, the cloak-and-dagger version is maintained by the director of national intelligence and is accessible only to the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency and an alphabet soup of other intelligence agencies and offices.

Agents can log in, depending on their clearance, to Intellipedia's three tiers of service: top secret, secret and sensitive but unclassified. So far, 37,000 users have established accounts on the network, which contain 35,000 articles encompassing 200,000 pages, according to Dennehy.

Google supplies the computer servers and search engine that make Intellipedia possible. (Google maintains that its relationship with the intelligence community is strictly as a technology provider and nothing more, despite protestations from bloggers.) Unlike Google's typical search engine, which ranks Web pages by the number of links to them, Intellipedia's search engine ranks material by descriptive keyword tags. 

The Chronicle reports Google's business relationship with the intelligence community is representative of the firm's push for more government contracts. Besides the government's spy agencies, other government customers include the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the state of Alabama and Washington, D.C.

While most of the government contracts Google wins are for its search engine, some agencies also use a more powerful version of Google Earth, its satellite mapping technology.



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