WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange tells influential Internet giant ‘works for US government’.
“Google is even more powerful than the Church has ever been, and it is more centralized,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told a group of journalists yesterday that attended the presentation of his new book via video conference.
“Even at its most influential moment, the Church had the Vatican but not all of its power passed through it. Its dominance was expressed through local franchises, we could say. It’s not like that with Google, where everything passes through the same control centre,” whistleblower Assange, who has spent the last two years holed up at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, told Spanish and Argentine reporters, including the Herald’s Editor-in-chief Sebastián Lacunza.
“At that precise moment, I realized that it was very possible that Eric Schmidt was not only representing Google... the delegation that visited me was one fourth Google and three fourths the US Department of Foreign Affairs,” Assange wrote in the book (available in Argentina in two weeks, published by Capital Intelectual) about the meeting, which took place in 2011.
According to the WikiLeaks founder — who has been given asylum by Ecuador to protect him from extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for sexual offences — “Google allows the NSA and the FBI to read emails. Even at a boring police station or court room, you can access those emails without a warrant.” During yesterday’s presentation, Assange told journalists that “Google works as bait to attract users. It collects users’ information and then sells it on to the US government.”
In 2010, WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of US State Department “diplomatic cables” that caused huge embarrassment in the White House, prompting then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to embark on an “apology tour” to fix damaged relationships. At the same time, the governments of the US and the UK launched a furious campaign behind the scenes to do everything in their power to halt the publication of the cables, moves that were subsequently reported in the international press.
Drawing a link to the documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the Herald asked Assange whether society had developed “a high level of tolerance to censorship and massive surveillance mechanisms.” The WikiLeaks founder attributed society’s tolerance to “ignorance” that is the result of the “secrecy and complexity with which the NSA works,” underlining that the US spy agency “sees everything and knows everything but is invisible” to the public because of its cutting-edge technology.
The Australian whistleblower argued that Google will play a very important role in the 2016 presidential elections in the US and said the company has especially close ties to Hillary Clinton, who is expected to run as the Democratic candidate. “A lot of people that are currently working at Google previously worked in her team,” he underlined.
Assange also referred to European efforts to force Google to break up the conglomerate in a bid to curb its soaring domination of the market. “Google is spending more money that any other company to exert power over Washington. If it makes the same investment to influence the European Commission, the question is whether the Commission can handle it. I don’t think it can,” he declared.