Amid the fallout from the recent NSA revelations, the biggest tech firms have tried to present themselves as only reluctantly complying with the Feds. But as the New York Times reports, the truth is that Washington and Silicon Valley have had an increasingly close relationship for years now.
“NSA badges are often seen on the lapels of officials at other technology and information security conferences. ‘They’re very open about their interest in recruiting from the hacker community,’ said Jennifer Granick, the director of civil liberties at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society.Silicon Valley has what the spy agency wants: vast amounts of private data and the most sophisticated software available to analyze it. The agency in turn is one of Silicon Valley’s largest customers for what is known as data analytics, one of the valley’s fastest-growing markets. To get their hands on the latest software technology to manipulate and take advantage of large volumes of data, US intelligence agencies invest in Silicon Valley startups, award classified contracts and recruit technology experts like [Max] Kelly [formerly of Facebook].
The relationship of course makes sense, as both parties have much to gain: plush contracts for the Valley and access to information for the spooks. It’s yet another facet of a trend we’ve noted before. Though Valley types still like to speak in broad idealistic generalities about how they’re transforming the world without mention of borders and countries, in reality they seem to have rediscovered the importance of the state. And if current political trends continue, those programmers that take high-paid national security jobs when they cycle out of the Valley are highly likely to donate their new cash to Democrats. If so, we might see the revival of a strong national defense and national greatness lobby in the Democratic Party.