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Google Joining Fight Against Drug Cartels 253

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-gets-to-define-illicit dept.
Several readers sent word that Google has announced its intention to start fighting drug cartels and other 'illicit networks.' According to a post on the official blog, the company thinks modern technology plays a key role in helping to 'expose and dismantle global criminal networks, which depend on secrecy and discretion in order to function.' They're holding a summit in Los Angeles this week, which aims to 'bring together a full-range of stakeholders, from survivors of organ trafficking, sex trafficking and forced labor to government officials, dozens of engineers, tech leaders and product managers from Google and beyond. Through the summit, which lasts until Wednesday, we hope to discover ways that technology can be used to expose and disrupt these networks as a whole—and to put some of these ideas into practice.'
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Google Joining Fight Against Drug Cartels

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  • Next? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:11PM (#40679807) Homepage Journal

    War on dissent and alternative information sources.

    • Re:Next? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by slick7 (1703596) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:22PM (#40679909)

      War on dissent and alternative information sources.

      The war on drugs, as well as all other wars, only profit the profiteers. The wars are a lost cause. The first casualties in any conflict are truth and innocence.

      • by hutsell (1228828)

        War on dissent and alternative information sources.

        The war on drugs, as well as all other wars, only profit the profiteers. The wars are a lost cause. The first casualties in any conflict are truth and innocence.

        “The man who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself.”
        Google will be no an exception.

        • “The man who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself.”
          Google will be no an exception.

          You're suggesting Google will inevitably start trafficking in sex workers and organs?

      • Re:Next? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:45PM (#40681311)
        "the war on drugs" that we have here in the US is just a simple catch phrase for the increase in arrests, incarceration and prison sentences that are supposed to target illegal drugs because they are though to be a root cause of violent crime.

        What's happening in Mexico however, is nearly a civil war. A REAL war. And Google should be commended for trying to help. The people of Mexico are suffering greatly due to our own greed, and addiction. It's a terrible thing.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          In Mexico it's mostly fighting between cartels and it is NOT even near a civil war, so that statement is greatly exaggerated. Sure, if you count the killings all these years the numbers seem high (40,000+ dead, lost count already), but this is a country with 90+ million people and the cartels are not killing each other outside the streets of every city, one has to keep in mind that the trouble spots are very localized. As a regular citizen you just do not see that on your everyday life. Still it is indeed a

        • by oreaq (817314)

          And Google should be commended for trying to help.

          Trying isn't enough. The only way to stop the drug cartels is to decriminalize drugs; and it will still be an uphill battle after the decriminalization. Until this happens everything else will just help to escalate the violence even further. There's ample proof for this from all around the world. Google should be condemned for participating in the abject farce that is called the war on drugs.

          • Re:Next? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by RazorSharp (1418697) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:48AM (#40684733)

            And Google should be commended for trying to help.

            Trying isn't enough. The only way to stop the drug cartels is to decriminalize drugs; and it will still be an uphill battle after the decriminalization. Until this happens everything else will just help to escalate the violence even further. There's ample proof for this from all around the world. Google should be condemned for participating in the abject farce that is called the war on drugs.

            I agree that Google should not be commended for trying, but not for the reason you mention. I see it as vigilantism and orchestrated vigilantism is a clear evil in my mind (opposed to non-orchestrated: i.e., you happen to see a mugging and interfere, but you're not going around scaling buildings in your Batsuit looking for muggings to interfere with).

            For some reason the governments of the world all think they're entitled to use Google as a tool for 'justice.' I appreciate Google's openness about what information they give out, and I appreciate a lot of the charity and projects they undertake in the name of positive social change, but a business has no place enforcing the law. In any instance. Corporate prisons and mercenaries are examples of the malfeasance. Businesses lack the moral authority that the government has to enforce the law.

            Concerning decriminalization: If you think cocaine should be decriminalized then you know very little about it. Perhaps if marijuana was decriminalized then enforcing cocaine prohibition wouldn't be so difficult. But cocaine isn't just highly addictive, it also causes direct damage to one's body. There's a reason crackheads have rotten teeth, deviated septums, and emphysema. For reference: Amy Winehouse. I agree that laws that target the users and give them prison time (such as Reagan's War on Drugs) are detrimental to society, but the government has a responsibility to fight trafficking. The only reason cocaine is so expensive is because the government fights trafficking. If cocaine became inexpensive and readily available in the U.S. it would do horrible things to society. The healthcare and prisons systems wouldn't be able to handle the burden.

            • Re:Next? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by oreaq (817314) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @10:42AM (#40685941)

              I agree that chronic cocaine usage has some serious medical side effects; and cocaine is still relatively harmless compared to other synthetic drugs like methamphetamine. I don't believe that decriminalization would necessarily increase chronic usage of these though. You can buy heroine and cocaine with practically no risk from law enforcement in any major European city and our healthcare and prison systems seem to be able to handle the the burden quiet fine. From the outside the situation in America regarding prisons and healthcare looks worse.

              The number of users to me seems to be more correlated with certain social factors regarding the users than with the legal status of the drugs. If you want to decrease overall usage of cocaine, et al. decriminalization is essential to be able to tackle those factors effectively.

            • by sjames (1099)

              For all of the massive efforts over a period of decades, cocaine is cheaper than ever. When crack hit the streets, prices fell off of a cliff. I certainly don't think cocaine should be recommended in any form, but I don't think it should be illegal for adults either.

              The sad fact is that some people will freely choose to do things that can only lead to their demise. Laws against it so far have only done harm. They take a person who has a really bad habit and rip away whatever support structure they might hav

            • by Fned (43219)

              If you think cocaine should be decriminalized then you know very little about it.

              If you think that decriminalizing drugs causes drug use rates to increase rather than decrease signifigantly, then you know nothing about decriminalizing drugs that is actually correct.

              You'd be better off wholly ignorant than believing things that are the opposite of true.

        • by DaFallus (805248)

          The people of Mexico are suffering greatly due to our politicians' greed, and addiction to power. It's a terrible thing.

          There, fixed that for you.

      • The war on drugs, as well as all other wars, only profit the profiteers. The wars are a lost cause. The first casualties in any conflict are truth and innocence.

        Michael Douglas, in his role as Judge Robert Wakefield in the film Traffic [imdb.com] , said it best:

        "If there is a war on drugs, then many of our family members are the enemy. And I don't know how you wage war on your own family."

        • by billius (1188143)

          The war on drugs, as well as all other wars, only profit the profiteers. The wars are a lost cause. The first casualties in any conflict are truth and innocence.

          Michael Douglas, in his role as Judge Robert Wakefield in the film Traffic [imdb.com] , said it best:

          "If there is a war on drugs, then many of our family members are the enemy. And I don't know how you wage war on your own family."

          Very effectively, as a matter of fact. [wikipedia.org]

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Exactly. The only way to win the war is to legalize drugs. The problem is, there are lots of really big players who don't want to see that happen.

        The war on drugs is used to federalize police forces, basically side stepping the US Constitution. Police don't want to see unneeded funding go away.

        The Federal Government uses drugs as a leveraged tool with cartels to obtain favors. This in part is what the illegal Gun Walker program was about. The Cartels don't want the war to go away as they are more or less in

    • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:26PM (#40679947) Journal

      When people read "drug cartel" they think of "illicit drugs", such as cocaine, meth, ice, and so on

      But who _are_ the real drug cartel ?

      Ever been to hospital lately ?

      Ever wonder why the hell everything there is so expensive ?

      Doctors of course wants to get their fair share and over-charge the patients, but, if we dig deep enough, we see a culture of vulture in the medical industry - and the "LEGAL DRUG" industry is a very essential part of the Culture of Vulture

      They always paint the picture of "It takes so and so billions to carry out the research" so "we need to charge so much and so much for the drugs to recover our cost"

      Really?

      The legal drug industry is a MULTI-TRILLION DOLLAR industry, dominated by several oligopolies, and because of it, drugs that would have cost mere cents to produce are being sold for hundreds and hundreds of dollars

      No matter how big Google is, Google still can't take on the true "Drug Cartel". They are just too powerful !
       

      • by slew (2918)

        Drugs aren't the reason hospitals are so expensive. Hospitals mostly just pass on the cost of drugs to their patients (via their insurance companies). If two drugs cost $10 and $100, and the hospital wanted to charge you $100 to put a pill in a cup, you would likely be billed $110 and $200, respectively. The reason hospitals are so expensive ($100 to put a pill in a cup is not unheard of) is that they spend money on stuff (like medical equipment) that is overpriced and then need to bill it out. Hospitals

        • by Altrag (195300)

          you would likely be billed $110 and $200, respectively

          There's a second, more subtle problem here. In many cases, you wouldn't get the option of the $100 pill. The hospital will intentionally give you the more expensive treatment due to coercion, kickbacks or other under-handed tactics by the pharmaceuticals.

          Similarly, no pharma company will likely ever release a $10 pill that did the same job as one of their own $100 pills. Most of the cost of pharmaceuticals is fixed (the R&D costs -- they're probably exaggerated, but still going to be huge compared to

        • by shentino (1139071)

          Would US drug prices go down if our pharmaceutical companies had to actually compete instead of hiding behind international borders that seizes foreign drugs as contraband?

      • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @08:52PM (#40680597)

        Comparing medical drug monopolies in the US to cartels in mexico displays a shocking ignorance. You may use phrases like "these monopolies are killing us" metaphorically, but in Mexico it isnt so metaphorical. Whens the last time these "vultures" killed several reporters for reporting on them? Whens the last time they killed local police with explosives?

        The utter lack of perspective from so many in the first world is a little depressing. You realize how great your life is in the US, that you can actually GO to a hospital, that you dont have to worry about a drug cartel firebombing your house? That we have freedom of the press here?

        But no, the monopolies here-- not the cartels in mexico-- are the REAL monsters, what with their high prices and all.

    • Re:Next? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:30PM (#40679971) Homepage Journal
      • by puto (533470)
        As a Colombian, do not post anything Colombia Reports posts, while some topics might hold a grain of truth, they are just regurgitated articles translated by the owner without giving credit to whomever wrote the article originally. And as a US citizen, we have done much wrong, but as a personal friend of the DEA boss in Colombia, we are doing much right. Colombians are quick to sell out their own, it is hardly the Unites States' fault.
    • by oakgrove (845019)
      I'm just thinking, isn't a private corporation fighting a was on drug cartels a potential way for various officers to end up in ditches somewhere? Just asking because a long time ago I knew some people personally that were involved in this kind of thing and I'm here to tell you, they don't play and they have no compunctions in coming for you and your family. Google should probably think twice about this one.
    • According to a post on the official blog, the company thinks modern technology plays a key role in helping to 'expose and dismantle global criminal networks, which depend on secrecy and discretion in order to function.'

      Not just about drugs, and its kind of crappy that youd take potshots at them for trying to go above and beyond "just profit".

      Honestly, as corporations go, Google tends to be the lease onerous "big guy", ESPECIALLY in regards to "alternatives". Who else would offer 8 zillion ways to get your information out of their services and into someone elses? Who else would actually let you opt out of their bread and butter advertising services?

      This may come across as shillish, and if you think so so be it, but its a

    • Google at first was a pretty simple nice company.

      Then they started tying all their lines together even where the fit was poor, just so they could cross-correlate everything for more advertising dollars. Not that I have anything against making money, that's what businesses are for, but they seemed to lose track of their original purpose.

      Now they are entering the holier-than-thou stage. A short while ago they decided to ban all weapon-related items in their shopper. Not the search itself, not yet, just the

  • Don't be evil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by detritus. (46421) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:13PM (#40679827)

    One innocent person spied on, arrested or charged with the help of Google to advance this "don't be evil" agenda is one too many.
    You can't be evil to fight evil. You're passing ones and zeroes back and forth for crying out loud...

    • Re:Don't be evil (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:56PM (#40680215)

      One innocent person spied on, arrested or charged with the help of Google to advance this "don't be evil" agenda is one too many.
      You can't be evil to fight evil. You're passing ones and zeroes back and forth for crying out loud...

      This is absurd. Obviously every human system for making decisions is going to make errors; those errors will be both type I (false positive) and type II (false negative). While it's up for debate what the acceptable ratio of those errors is when making laws or punishing lawbreakers, it's pretty clearly false that even one false positive is more evil than any number of false negatives. For a tongue-in-cheek historical overview of the arguments over *what* the ratio is, see N Guilty Men [ucla.edu].

      None of this is to impute that we are giving criminal defendants a fair shake or that the system as a whole could do better (which I think, by the way, there are reforms that would reduce both type I and type II errors simultaneously, thus convicting more of the guilty and acquitting more of the innocent). Nor do I dispute that we should err very strongly on the side of acquitting the guilty rather than punishing the innocent -- the magnitude of the error is not nearly the same. But to get any useful traction on the problem, you can't start with "it's evil to have a system that convicts even a single innocent suspect" because that ignores that such a system would have to acquit so many guilty suspects to get the 0% error rate (if not all of them). Instead, you have to do the hard work of looking at each particular policy and judge whether, taken as a whole and including the effect of wrongful conviction, unpunished crime, criminals that go on after one offense to violate the rights of more victims and so forth, the policy is a net positive or a net negative.

      The same extends to Google's program here -- maybe it's evil, maybe it's not, but it certainly doesn't merit such a judgment based on the existence of even a single false positive.

  • Vacation plans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by riverat1 (1048260) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:16PM (#40679855)

    Google execs better change their plans if they were going to vacation in Mexico any time soon.

    • ...or nearly any where else in the world.

    • I'd be worried even if I were a senior exec that never left Mountain View. To think the cartels can't reach more than, say 10 miles over the border is beyond Pollyannish.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:16PM (#40679857) Homepage

    So now they are siding with the "war on drugs" in order to push their means and methods which are considered by many as questionable of not simply creepy and discomforting? What's next? "Think of the children" and "fighting terror"?

    Google. You're a commercial interest whose product lies in the information you collect so you can sell more advertising and marketing services. I will not forget that. You have not forgotten that. Why do you want everyone else to forget that?

    • 2 words: power grab.

      planting seeds for more power, politically, later on (or even right now).

      you and I see what google is and what they are really about but they have been successful in conning people into thinking they are some benevolent entity, out to fight the good fight, for The People(tm).

      people believe that shit! give a shiny thing and quite a lot will follow you and even offer loyalty to you.

      I do think google has gotton too large and too powerful. and that is always, *always* a bad thing (for gove

  • by bmo (77928) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:16PM (#40679859)

    ... the same technology is aimed not at sex, drug, organ, or baby traffickers, but rather ordinary citizens trying to organize against an oppressive government.

    Google supposedly abandoned China over censorship. This is far and away more dangerous than mere filtering of words.

    --
    BMO

  • Wall Street doesn't count as a "criminal network", does it?

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:18PM (#40679887) Homepage

    Let's not lump drug trafficking in with sex and organ trafficking. The latter are heinous atrocities, the former is a contrived product of repressive government policy.

    Drug trafficking would never have become a problem if governments hadn't created the giant void in the market that allowed them to exist in the first place. People want to get high, they will do so whether the nanny statists like it or not.

    • Prohibition of selling sex and organs pushed those markets into a shady area as well. It's actually more obvious in those cases how much the government needs crime, since the government had to imagine those markets selling ladies in shackles and kidneys in coolers when it couldn't find them.
    • Drug trafficking would never have become a problem if governments hadn't created the giant void in the market

      New results in from Portugal [businessinsider.com] confirm what people who can do math have been saying all along.

    • Actually, let's. Regardless of the how and why, the people running the drug trade right now are grade-A assholes. They are the kinds of assholes who are traffickers by nature, and if you legalized drugs they would move on to trafficking something you like less.

      If you think they're just misunderstood freedom fighters, go hang around in a Mexican border town sometime.

    • by ed1park (100777)

      We can lump them together because they have a common solution. Legalize and regulate everything and the profit motive for the criminals go away. Pouring money/resources into a technology war is another waste. As long as they are illegal and money is to made ($billions$), people will get hurt.

  • This is an attempt to legitimize any incursion into privacy they want. No adversary so sophisticated as the drug cartels will engage in illegal activity out in the open, so to speak. It is entirely trivial to deploy tools for securing communications. The only logical conclusions to this initiative are: infringements upon the rights of innocents, and prohibitions on cryptography and anonymity.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:30PM (#40679975)
    End drug cartels by legalizing drugs. When you prohibit something with a large, inelastic demand you create violence. There's a reason why (except in prisons where they are banned) you don't see people stabbing other people for cigarettes because they are available just about anywhere. When alcohol was banned in the US, there was a rise in organized crime selling booze. When prohibition ended, gang violence declined massively. Prohibition didn't work with alcohol and it doesn't work with drugs.
    • What gets me the politicians who want to spend money on keeping cartels out and securing the border and all that, but then never mention the elephant in the room that is the connection between prohibition, the cartels, and the other boarder problems caused by the cartels. The government creates one problem, then instead of proposing an end policies that create that problem, which cost loads of money (and of course has that toll on life and liberty), they want to spend more money attempting to fix some of

      • by Sloppy (14984)

        What gets me the politicians who want to spend money on keeping cartels out and securing the border and all that, but then never mention the elephant in the room that is the connection between prohibition, the cartels, and the other boarder problems caused by the cartels.

        To be fair, we do reward them for behaving that way, and tend to vote against people who speak about most issues realistically. How many people do you think are going to vote for Gary Johnson as next president, compared to Obama or Romney?

  • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:32PM (#40679989) Journal
    Hello security theater.
  • by Stonefish (210962) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:34PM (#40680009)

    This is a PR and marketing strategy. Google relies on selling people to companies however this hegemony is threatened by lawmakers whom may constrain what google collects. By saying that we might be able to win the war of drugs if you let us collect more data on people is a simple strategy and the government is so silly that they'll buy it.
    They want people to associate limitations on google's ability to collect data with crime.

  • by hamster_nz (656572) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:46PM (#40680125)

    The internet is great for all businesses, but it better not improve the productivity of :
    - drug traffickers,

    - child predators

    - religious fundamentalist (except Christians of course!)

    - unauthorised file sharing

    - white power groups (except those in the Southern USA, where it is a tradition).

    - anti governmental uprisings (except in Egypt and Syria - those uprisings are OK)

    - or scammers and spammers (except those Himalayian Gojo berries and commercial Vitamin pills - those are real businesses)

    - those promoting the views on "Global Warming/ Climate change", on either side of the debate

    - school kids who "dis" their school

    - People who believe that endless economic growth is impossible and ultimately unsustainable - the end is near!

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:57PM (#40680223)

    Federal agencies get funding from illegal narcotics when congress says no to programs, that's why our troops in Afghanistan protect drug lords, fields, shipments. Some federal reserve banks launder money for the cartels, that also big business. The victimless crimes that keep at least a third of the prison population are also fodder for the huge business of the prison systems. Therefore, the price of narcotics must be kept high and so the "war on drugs" escalates. We fight both sides of the "war on drugs", it's big money and agenda driver.

  • The people who do drugs chose to do drugs. It is not like we haven't made damn sure that every person in the United States knows that partaking in drugs is stupid. They are not acting in ignorance. They have been warned. If people want to be stupid, let them be stupid. It is their life. They aren't hurting anyone else. If legal, at least all the violent drug lords will go out of business. Also, we would be saving a crap-ton of tax dollars. Of course, that last bit assumes we don't make the government respon
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @08:26PM (#40680429)

    ...Just legalize them. ALL of them. Deal with the people who can't deal with drugs as a health care problem, exactly the way alcoholism is addressed.

    How big a problem is bootlegging since Prohibition was repealed?

  • by slew (2918)

    Since the government can't stop the violence, the Coalition and Alliance were granted police powers by the government.

    At some point, they will have no need for the government.

    So which cadre is Google? the Coalition, or the Alliance? Does it matter? ;^)

  • is so damn successful this is just the next logical step.... right?
  • Is Google totally unaware of the fact that drug cartels existed WELL before the internet was ever created? If Google actually is able to shut them off from technology, they will simply go back to their old ways, and will probably be more violent than before. The thing about technology that Google doesnt seem to grasp here is that it doesnt really enable people to do things they couldnt do before, it just makes it a lot easier. With technology buyers and sellers can efficiently contact each other and make
  • put your money into decriminalising drugs. Take the cartels profits away.
  • It sounds courageous but this last step is a doozy. Not well thought out at all. Why on Earth did Google do this so publicly?

    Think about it from the perspective of someone who wants to work at Google, "geek heaven".
    If they are going to take on big rich gangster cartels like the Zetas who apparently own a whole country and love making examples of ordinary people even reaching into the U.S.A., they become targets too. Big soft squishy targets, very public, scattered in low security offices and conferences all

    • Exactly. This seems really suicidal on their part.
      Especially the owners.

      This could be legalized and it would weaken the cartels but also allow them to transition to legal businesses.

      Doing it this way tho... going to end badly.

  • Have to admire that they are so well off and they are willing to risk very violent deaths at the hands of the cartels.

    And it won't have the slightest effect on availability of the drugs.

  • by xs650 (741277) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @01:17AM (#40682221)
    This would be a good time for anyone driving a Google Streetview car around Mexico or working in a building that says Google on the front to demand duty pay.
  • How many Google employees have family members in Mexico? Probably not many, but there have to be some. If this anti-cartel initiative actually starts to be successful, how long before Los Zetas go after these family members?

    The Mexican cartels don't seem to have much force projection ability into the US (all the killings are on the Mexican side of the border) – maybe this is because they know most US cops wouldn't look the other way like Mexican ones do, or they don't have as many connections and sour

  • Which drug cartels? The ones that make many $billions off their government-enforced monopolies ("patents"), one of the main drivers of bankrupting medical expenses?

    A "drug cartel" is like a "religious cult" or a "freedom fighter": the definition depends on which tribe you belong to, pointing at the others.

    The way to fight drug cartels, like any cartels, is to stop creating artificial supply/demand shortages with a "Drug War". And treat people who do drugs but can't handle it for their actual medical problem

  • Prohibition fails. Google are just supporting the problem, not the solution. They should be advocating decrimilization and treatment as an illness, not as a crime.

  • If google declares war to drug cartel and illicit network, it will become the enemy of many political groups and this will not increase the support from other political groups. Google is already a target of many criticism. With this movement, they either commit suicide or change radically the world.

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