Google Becomes the Cookie Monster


We live in a confusing digital world that only seems to grow more complex with every passing day. One of the most difficult factors to comprehend is security, with government agencies from all over the world striving to obtain up-to-the-second intelligence information to help guide important decisions and determine policies.

NSA and GCHQ Track Targets with Cookies

Being the largest search engine provider in the world, Google has been unable to avoid its role in the intelligence gathering practices of covert government agencies. The latest scandal to involve Google has been the revelation that the NSA and GCHQ use cookies (small digital files of information about internet users) to track the browsing activities of potential suspects.

More Information from Edward Snowden

This latest uncovering of sensitive security information can again be credited to former CIA and NSA employee Edward Snowden, who is considered a fugitive by the US Government. Currently, Snowden is residing in Russia, where he obtained asylum in August. The US Government was so frustrated by Russia’s actions that it even threatened to withdraw from a G20 meeting (The Guardian has a fantastic NSA section dedicated to this huge area of news).

Cookies in Digital Surveillance

At their most basic level, cookies cannot simply reveal the identities of their users. However, the NSA has managed to use the information to track users and uncover their personal details over time. After all, this is a world-class spy agency that we’re dealing with.

NSA Buy Their Cookies in Bulk

It is entirely understandable that intelligence agencies, such as the NSA and GCHQ, need to gather information about potentially dangerous suspects with the aim of protecting the general public. But this understanding is somewhat compromised when you discover that the NSA acquires information in bulk and that some agents have used cookies to spy on former lovers.

Google’s Role in Intelligence Gathering

When you grow to the size of Google, in the field of search engines and internet services, it’s unavoidable that intelligence agencies will attempt to leverage your resources to make their lives simpler. Nevertheless, it would be nice to see Google stick up for its users once in a while. After all, this is our information we’re talking about.

A Clandestine Approach?

In Google’s section dedicated to webmaster videos, there is video after video highlighting the importance of quality, honesty and integrity. This is fantastic to hear, and I agree wholeheartedly with that philosophy. But with this latest news, you can’t help but feel the doubt growing in your mind as Google fails to address the situation with as much confidence as its wonderful webmaster videos.

Only One Real Contender

In summary, the NSA and the huge volumes of data it consumes make it a logical contender for the title of ‘Cookie Monster’. However, Google’s on-going silence and considerably larger collection of cookies makes it the only real contender. (Photo credit to Michelle O’Connell)

By Mike Porter