'Don't Be Evil,' Meet 'Spy on Everyone': How the NSA Deal Could Kill Google

Noah Shachtman at Wired "Danger Room" writes: "The company once known for its 'don't be evil' motto is now in bed with the spy agency known for the mass surveillance of American citizens." More on why NSA is a particularly untrustworthy partner for Google: 'Don't Be Evil,' Meet 'Spy on Everyone': How the NSA Deal Could Kill Google


  1. Continuum of Evil

    More Evil {-} Less Evil
    { ———————– }
    China NSA Google

    I think the end result of goog getting in bed with NSA will more likely be an ever so slight de-eviling of the NSA, rather than greater eneviling of google. I would not be so optimistic if this was merely Comcast, Yahoo! or Bing we were talking about.

  2. And Google haven’t been gathering vast amounts of information on it’s users for over a decade? Hell, they’re probably better at this mass surveillance game than the NSA are…

  3. Google is not evil. It’s a corporation.

    A polar bear is not evil. It would kill and eat you, though. Not because it is evil – it is not – but because from its perfectly legit perspective, you’re food.

    As a mammal, I have more in common with a polar bear than with a memetic entity like Google. I’m not so sure about what good and evil mean to it.

    1. By those standards, what isn’t evil? I’m guessing that you’ll count (movie-style) serial killers, because although from their perspective people are just potential victims, it’s not a perfectly legitimate one like the bear’s.
      The question, then: should a corporation’s perspective count as legitimate?

      1. Should it be? Legally, corporations are people, except they’re allowed to do things that flesh-and-blood people aren’t.

  4. As I’ve said for some time, there is a world of difference between “don’t be evil” and “be good.”

  5. i wonder if this is related to the two founders recently selling off a large portion of their shares?

  6. @#6 –

    Polar bears can’t be evil because they’re not moral actors — evil as a concept derives from morality.

    Nor can a corporation in se be evil since it is also not a moral actor. But the people running and working for a corp can be evil (or rather do evil things), and that is to whom the admonishment is made. “Don’t be evil” is aimed at people, not the company.

  7. Yup – a corp is not good or evil because it is not a moral actor. And there you have it: the problem with corporate personhood.

    Just for fun, let’s look at, for instance, Google as a memetic organism. What does it do? It grows, in a somewhat slime-mould-like fashion. In an inhospitable environment, it may retract, like what just happened in China. It feeds on, processes and excretes data, and money. It competes for food with similar creatures. It’s in symbiosis with us users.

    And it rises to ever greater complexity as it grows. It’s a thing of beauty, in a way. But it’s not human, it’s not a moral agent in a human sense, and it just may devour you.

    Good and evil have nothing to do with it.

    1. By the same logic, a government shouldn’t be good or evil, and yet I don’t know anyone who won’t describe their actions that way.

  8. Google’s motto: “Don’t be evil.”

    Note carefully that there’s a difference between “be good,” and “don’t be evil.” A hammer is not evil. Neither is a gun. Both are simply tools.

    Perhaps it would be wise to stay away from Google’s pointy end from now on though, as much as that’s possible these days.

  9. If you define “evil” as doing stuff to us that we wouldn’t agree to if we had any real choice, then both Google and NSA are evil and getting eviller.

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