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Google Joining Fight Against Drug Cartels 253

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.

  • 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...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:14PM (#40679843)

    Absolutely. Prohibition always works. Worked great for booze - works great for weed, heroin, cocaine and meth.

  • 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.

  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> 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.

  • 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 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.
  • 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 the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:48PM (#40680149)

    What a load of crap.

    1) The global prescription drug revenue is not even $1 trillion. Where are you getting this "multi-trillion dollar industry"?

    2) Drugs cost money to develop, show efficacy in clinical trials, etc. Most drugs going through the pipeline are duds. For the ones that do work we have patents. And once those 20 years are up, those drugs become generic and cheaper. The generics work, and most people should be opting for them. If they aren't they're just being sheltered from the true cost of the name-brand drugs. Or do you think drugs like atorvastatin just came out of nowhere?

    3) Really? You're comparing drug cartels to the pharmaceutical industry? When was the last time Pfizer beheaded someone? How many people have the Sinaloa cartel beheaded last month?

  • 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 [].

    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.

  • 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.

  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <> 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 Afecks ( 899057 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @08:43PM (#40680531)

    2) Drugs cost money to develop, show efficacy in clinical trials, etc. Most drugs going through the pipeline are duds. For the ones that do work we have patents. And once those 20 years are up, those drugs become generic and cheaper. The generics work, and most people should be opting for them. If they aren't they're just being sheltered from the true cost of the name-brand drugs. Or do you think drugs like atorvastatin just came out of nowhere?

    For starters, healthcare would be cheaper because there would be no patents on drugs, there would be no mandatory medical licensing and there would be no need for the currently absurd amounts of malpractice insurance.

    1. Drug patents - Intellectual property is incompatible with libertarianism. Instead of recovering R&D costs through artificial government enforced monopolies, R&D would be paid for by private investors and charity. Americans donate something like 300 billion dollars to charity each year. Much of the cost for new drugs is spent jumping through FDA hoops. Historically, the first to market with new drugs retain something like 80% market share even when competitors make generic versions. The FDA has the incentive to keep new drugs off the market because if the FDA makes a mistake, it gets bad press. Whereas the millions that die each year because they are denied safe and effective drugs by the FDA go unnoticed (kind of like how jobs that are lost make the papers but the jobs that are never created go unnoticed).

    2. Licensing - While it seems wise to let doctors regulate doctors (who else would be a better expert than existing experts), putting existing firms in charge of regulating the competition is a terrible idea. Because new regulations typically apply only to new licensees, the current firms can make unreasonable rules to prevent new competition. There's no incentive to improve the standards and every incentive to make them stricter than necessary. Current absurd standards involve language requirements for doctors in a bid to keep out foreign competition. Being able to speak English has no bearing on medical expertise. Translators are a lot cheaper than English speaking doctors.

    3. Malpractice Insurance - Removing an infected splinter recently cost a close relative around $800, a procedure that should have cost closer to $80. Why? Because if anything were to go wrong, the doctor could be sued and therefore has to charge more to cover insurance premiums. Allowing individuals to sign waivers allowing minimal or no insurance coverage would put the choice where it belongs, with the risk taker. You can pay $800 if you want that kind of security or you can pay $80 if you are willing to take the risk that removing a splinter could turn into a life-threatening catastrophe.

    This is merely scratching the surface of the reasons that the American medical system is a joke. For deeper analysis of the FDA, check out Mary Ruwart's interviews and website. She was a pharmaceutical research scientist for Upjohn Pharmaceuticals for 19 years. Robert Murphy has a concise article called "Flower Power" on how occupational licensing hurts us all. Finally, a good read is Richard Epstein's article "Medical Malpractice: The Case for Contract" for obvious reasons.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:36PM (#40680853)

    Clinical trials and research many times done on the taxpayer's dime at publicly funded universities and colleges. Often further funded by government (tax payer) grants. Pharma is a racket and if our elected officials and the agencies that were supposed to regulate the industry weren't so deeply in bed with Big Pharma, there would be prison sentences for things like saying it's OK to give pregnant women dugs that weren't even tested on pregnant women. That is just a single example of the corruption and deceit perpetrated by Big Pharma and the FDA. All the while, the Dept. Of Justice looks the other way and your elected officials accept campaign contributions from them. That, sir, is a CARTEL.

  • 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 on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @12:49AM (#40682081)

    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 very sad situation with no real ending in sight, even with 6 years well into the fight. Drugs are the most lucrative business in the planet period, as long as there is the demand and the challenge to meet that demand remains of extreme risk and costly (it is an ilegal activity requiring lots of resources to operate and distribute: bribe money for politicians/goverment/police/military , weapons, safe houses, killers, dealers, informants, etc ) there will be unscrupulous individuals that will rise to meet that challenge (and they will just keep getting away with it, the money is too much). The only real solution is dropping the price for end consumers and that means legalizing (or whatever you want to call it), then keep on fighting the cartels til they colapse because of lack of resources, then funnel all that drug war money into youngsters education and rehab programs for the ones already in it. That is really the only way to solve both countries problems.

  • Re:Next? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:29AM (#40685127)

    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 bed with the US governemnt.

    Billions of dollars are used to fight wars in different countries under the guise of the "War On Drugs." Much of this money goes to contractors and mercenaries. These guys don't want the war on drugs to go away.

    Doctors love having a monopoly on drugs. Doctors don't want drugs legalized and by extension, don't want the "War On Drugs" to go away.

    Prisons are the largest growing government service in the US. The US has the largest prison population of any industrialized nation. Literally you could make 80% of crimes disappear by legalizing drugs. Prisons don't want to see the "War On Drugs" disappear.

    All of the above bribe...err, lobby government officials to maintain the insane war on drugs. Between taxes and wasted revenue, up to 100 billion per year could be used elsewhere in the economy if the war on drugs were stopped. Much of that would actually pay down our country's insane debt.

    Basically you have three types of people when it comes to the war on drugs. One, the ignorant and/or selfish. Two, the corrupt. Three, those who are in favor to stopping the war on drugs and legalizing them. Hell, most of the drug laws are unconstitional anyways as you can't legally ceed Congressional authority to third parties and yet that's exactly what most of the illegal anti-drug laws do - to the FDA. Yes, that's right, according to Congress, the FDA has congressional authority when it comes to drug laws. That's blantantly illegal and unconstitional.

    I could go on and on...but frankly, any position other than stopping the war on drugs literally is in support of kidnapping, sex slaves, torture, mass murder (some of which can be directly pinned on Obama and his administration - See Gun Walker), child labor, so on and so on. Basically supporting the war on drugs literally supports and empowers the worst criminals and crimes against humanity.

    Stop supporting criminals, bribery, and fraud in the US government. Stop the war on drugs.

  • 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.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger