The tech-focused think tank previously known as Google Ideas is being rebranded as a technology incubator called Jigsaw. The change will see the organization focus on ways to use technology to tackle geopolitical challenges, ranging from online censorship to violent extremism, Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt said yesterday in a post on Medium.
Founded in 2010, Google Ideas has been led by Washington, D.C.-insider-turned-Googler Jared Cohen, who will continue to lead Jigsaw as president. Cohen began working at the U.S. Department of State under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and continued on when Hillary Clinton assumed that role after Barack Obama was elected president. Cohen joined Google when Ideas was launched.
We contacted Google to learn more about the new mission for Jigsaw but were told by a spokesperson that the company was not commenting beyond Schmidt's Medium post. However, she added, "the mission will not significantly change."
A 'Complex Puzzle of Challenges'
"As a technology incubator, Jigsaw will be investing in and building technology to expand access to information for the world's most vulnerable populations and to defend against the world's most challenging security threats," Schmidt noted in his post. He added that the name was chosen because it "acknowledges that the world is a complex puzzle of physical and digital challenges." The name also "reflects our belief that collaborative problem-solving yields the best solutions," Schmidt said.
Jigsaw will continue to pursue ongoing Google Ideas' projects such as Project Shield, which allows Webmasters to thwart distributed denial of service attacks by serving their sites through Google's infrastructure; the Investigative Dashboard document search tool for journalists; and the Digital Attack Map, which displays data-based threats on a global map in real-time.
Other issues that the Ideas/Jigsaw research will continue to focus on include the global arms trade, money laundering, police brutality, terrorism, and online hate and harassment, Schmidt said.
Snowden: Google 'Picked a Side'
WikiLeaks, the news leak organization founded by Julian Assange in 2006, today welcomed the news about Google Ideas' rebranding with the following tweet: "Google's 'regime change' dept 'Ideas' is now 'Jigsaw' (better known as the hitech serial killer in Saw)." The tweet also provided a link to an online excerpt from Assange's 2014 book, "When Google Met WikiLeaks."
In that book, Assange recounted his 2011 meeting with Google's Schmidt while Assange was under house arrest in the U.K. but before he took asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he remains today.
Assange and WikiLeaks have both criticized Google for providing data about WikiLeaks to U.S. government authorities investigating the organization's publication of leaked government data.
WikiLeaks today also retweeted a comment made by former National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden. Snowden sent out a tweet after Apple's latest vow to fight a federal court order to unlock an encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the two assailants in the recent San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist attack. The tweet is as follows: "This is the most important tech case in a decade. Silence means @google picked a side, but it's not the public's."
On December 2, Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, shot at people gathered at an event for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. The couple killed 14 people and seriously wounded 20 others. Farook and his wife were killed in a shootout with police. Since the attack, authorities have been going through their belongings, including their smartphones, trying to determine their motives and whether they were part of a larger terrorist plot.
In posting his tweet, Snowden also retweeted a comment by WhiteHat Security founder Jeremiah Grossman that said, "Today would be the perfect day for Sundar Pichai (Google, CEO) to back up Tim Cook (Apple, CEO)."
Image Credit: Google Jigsaw logo courtesy of Google.
Posted: 2016-02-17 @ 8:33pm PT
Just wanted to post an update: Google CEO Sundar Pichai late this afternoon made a series of comments on his Twitter account related to the issue of Apple and iPhone encryption. In his tweets, Pichai said:
"1/5 Important post by @tim_cook. Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users’ privacy"
"2/5 We know that law enforcement and intelligence agencies face significant challenges in protecting the public against crime and terrorism"
"3/5 We build secure products to keep your information safe and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders"
"4/5 But that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent"
"5/5 Looking forward to a thoughtful and open discussion on this important issue"