Google as Pentagon contractor

Google’s emergence as a major defense contractor was underscored last week when the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency tweaked its Aug. 20 announcement of a sole-source contract to the search giant for visualization services.

The announcement, reported by Fox News, prompted a Microsoft protest that its Bing Map Server could do the job. The NGA then changed the wording of the announcement–without really changing its meaning. The revised NGA announcement, noted NextGov, “went to great lengths to clarify that only Google Earth meets it requirements.”

The amount of the NGA contract was not disclosed.

The revised announcement shows how the government’s geospatial intelligence capabilities are inextricably linked to Google Earth.

As Fox News’ James Rosen noted:

“Google Earth came into being only after Google’s 2004 acquisition of Keyhole, a company that was in part funded by In-Q-Tel, the venture capital firm run by the CIA. And those firms, along with Microsoft, tend to purchase their aerial imagery principally from two other companies: DigitalGlobe and GeoEye. Those firms on Aug, 6 received federal contracts worth close to $4 billion each, in order to collaborate on a next-generation satellite that can deliver even more detailed imagery — money that was awarded by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.”

Will Google’s dependence on secret Pentagon contracts affect its corporate decision-making? How could it not?

Published by Margot Williams

Margot Williams has more than two decades of experience in roles as investigative researcher, research editor, database editor, technology trainer and library director at The New York Times, The Washington Post, Gannett newspapers and Time Warner. She was lead researcher on two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams at The Washington Post for reporting on terrorism in 2002 and for an investigation of the use of deadly force by the District of Columbia police in 1999. Margot is the co-author of “Great Scouts! CyberGuides for Subject Searching on the Web” (Cyberage Books, 1999) and contributed to the “Networkings” column in The Washington Post for five years.

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  1. Google and GeoEye are partners, with Google helping to fund the launch of GeoEye’s satellite:

    But the search titan does have the exclusive rights among online mapping sites to the GeoEye-1 images, which it will use in its Google Earth and Google Maps offerings. It even got its corporate logo emblazoned on the launch rocket, right below Boeing’s.

    Microsoft does not have its own satellite; they in effect buy the imagery from Google.

  2. you know i hear you and all these propaganda against google but they all just goes out of my other ear. theres no company id trust more than google right now. i believe in their vision, their philosophy and their business model. all that you’re saying are conspiracy theories. they’re all what ifs. WE LOVE GOOGLE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! go protect us from some other company.

  3. Why do you guys feel the need to bash Google so much? So they scored a great contract with a government agency… who cares? Good for them! Why should I, as a consumer, care _at all_ about this? I love Google’s services, and having some extra funding can only benefit the economy and consumers in the long run. Also, Bing is just an infant in terms of search and mapping technologies. Google has been around for much longer, allowing them to have more knowledge and expertise in the field. I believe that this will actually encourage Bing to spend more money into improving their technology, and it will cause more competition, which, to consumers, can only lead to good things. But that’s just my opinion.

  4. These Google lovers won’t ever learn. Fortunately that’s why there are organizations like this out there to protect the stupid from the smarter and even themselves. These Google fanboys can’t see further than 2 centimetres from their eyes.

  5. I’ve followed Eric Schmidt since he was Chief technology Officer at Sun Microsystems. Schmidt’s Google Ice Cream Truck animation is SUPER CREEPY because it has many elements of truth. Besides the data collection stuff, Schmidt’s demeanor is exaggerated to an almost believable pinch. Wow, i’m am creeped out about it.

  6. I read the Government document( and to my understanding it is a simple contract for google earths services. How does that make Google bad? They are doing business and making money like any corporation would. The problem is not that Google made a deal with a federal agency that wants to track the world in real-time. The problem is that the government may use this real time tracking to violate our 4th amendment right.

    You cant honestly expect a business to turn down a multi-million dollar deal can you? Hell if the government wanted me to build their website, Id do it. You know why? Because its my job and they are paying me to do so. Show me some physical evidence that Google has done anything wrong.

  7. What wrong with such a contract!!. Google is not in the Wacthdog category, its a profit making organization.

  8. “Google’s dependence on secret Pentagon contracts” … roflolol… Wow. that’s ridiculous. Google still makes like 97% of their profits in advertising. This contract is barely a percent of their business. Why the big deal?

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