Spooks and Google

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Halloween’s right around the corner, but some staunch Google critics may have another kind of spook on their minds this week. That’s because Google bought a company today that’s received financial backing from the CIA.

The integration of Keyhole’s spiffy 3-D mapping technology into Google’s services could be a boon to users some day. But the backing of Keyhole by the CIA’s venture capital branch, In-Q-Tel (as we mentioned here back in April) could reignite suspicions that Google is somehow in bed with the government. Google’s hiring of engineer Matt Cutts, a former National Security Agency employee, was already enough to set off alarm bells among some of the more impassioned Google watchers. This Keyhole deal could become the next piece of the puzzle for them.

For what it’s worth, In-Q-Tel has sprinkled a fair amount of money around the valley, so Keyhole is hardly unique. And when we met Matt Cutts a while back, he scoffed at the conspiracy theories, noting that he was a lowly intern at the NSA for a relatively short time.