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Former Google Employee Who Helped Edward Snowden Says Google Turned Its Back on Free Speech

How Google went to the dark side.

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A decade after Edward Snowden informed the world about the shocking scale of state surveillance and spying citizens are subjected to, one of the persons involved in helping him in the early moments of his plight, a former Google employee, is speaking out.

In keeping with the overall theme of the Snowden story, ex-Googler William Fitzgerald, in 2013 based in Hong Kong, describes the events that unfolded as Snowden became identified as the whistleblower behind the revelations, but also the way the tech industry has changed in the meanwhile – and how in the last ten years, Google has increasingly rejected free speech.

Fitzgerald has had a chance to witness this first-hand for many years, considering that he left Google in 2018. Five years prior, as the Snowden story was exploding he contacted journalist Glenn Greenwald directly, offering to help protect Snowden, and recounting the story today Fitzgerald notes that the entire industry, and naturally Google that constitutes a large chunk of it, have very much changed in his perception.

Up until the moment it became clear how Big Tech and its huge reach in terms of enabling global communication on a mass scale was harnessed by agencies like the NSA to carry out their mass surveillance, it seemed like those tools would be a force for good.

But the bitter truth was spelled out in the files Snowden revealed: the NSA documents pointed the finger at Google, Apple and Facebook as willing participants – i.e., as knowing how their resources were used.

At the time, these behemoths strongly denied this, and started carrying out a damage control operation, such as presenting themselves as champions of online encryption, hiring employees whose job was to advance “free expression,” teaming up with well-known digital rights groups like the EFF, and the like.

But everything that has been happening in the intervening decade has shown time and time again the true nature of Google and others, as ever more openly powerful tools of censorship, tracking, and surveillance, both for profit, and for the political side(s) they are aligned with.

From Fitzgerald’s point of view, things were definitely shifting at Google on this front ever since 2013.

“There was a slow erosion of a lot of these things that Google had said they cared about,” he says.

If you're tired of censorship and dystopian threats against civil liberties, subscribe to Reclaim The Net.

Tired of censorship and surveillance?

Defend free speech and individual liberty online. Push back against Big Tech and media gatekeepers. Subscribe to Reclaim The Net.

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