When the NSA Outsources Search to Google…

I’ve been reading — or actually listening to — a lot of Cory Doctorow’s work on the train and two short stories just had me entranced.

The first is this one about a dystopian world where Google starts helping the NSA with search. Specifically search for terrorists.  In classic Cory Doctorow fashion is goes over the top on what the government would be interested in and find the ability to act on, but it does prove a point. 
More interesting is the idea that you could put someone under suspicion based on the ad that are served to their profile, rather then actually having access to the profile.  That is really funny.

Monday, September 17, 2007
Scroogled (by Cory Doctorow)

Cory Doctorow wrote this Creative Commons-licensed fiction story for Radar Online magazine.

“Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him.” –Cardinal Richelieu

“We don’t know enough about you.” –Google CEO Eric Schmidt

Greg landed at San Francisco International Airport at 8 p.m., but by the time he’d made it to the front of the customs line, it was after midnight. He’d emerged from first class, brown as a nut, unshaven, and loose-limbed after a month on the beach in Cabo (scuba diving three days a week, seducing French college girls the rest of the time). When he’d left the city a month before, he’d been a stoop-shouldered, potbellied wreck. Now he was a bronze god, drawing admiring glances from the stews at the front of the cabin.

Four hours later in the customs line, he’d slid from god back to man. His slight buzz had worn off, sweat ran down the crack of his ass, and his shoulders and neck were so tense his upper back felt like a tennis racket. The batteries on his iPod had long since died, leaving him with nothing to do except eavesdrop on the middle-age couple ahead of him.

“The marvels of modern technology,” said the woman, shrugging at a nearby sign: Immigration–Powered by Google.

“I thought that didn’t start until next month?” The man was alternately wearing and holding a large sombrero.

The U.S. government had spent $15 billion and hadn’t caught a single terrorist. Clearly, the public sector was not equipped to Do Search Right.

Googling at the border. Christ. Greg had vested out of Google six months before, cashing in his options and “taking some me time”–which turned out to be less rewarding than he’d expected. What he mostly did over the five months that followed was fix his friends’ PCs, watch daytime TV, and gain 10 pounds, which he blamed on being at home instead of in the Googleplex, with its well-appointed 24-hour gym.

He should have seen it coming, of course. The U.S. government had lavished $15 billion on a program to fingerprint and photograph visitors at the border, and hadn’t caught a single terrorist. Clearly, the public sector was not equipped to Do Search Right.
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