Cold war in the Valley: tech giants may be crawling with spies

World

Cold war in the Valley: tech giants may be crawling with spies

Recent arrests add to fears that spymasters are exploiting the reach of social media firms

Laurence Dodds

The arrest earlier this month of two former Twitter employees, now charged with spying for Saudi Arabia, cast rare light on Silicon Valley as a dark nexus of power and information.

The US Justice Department accuses the pair of using their access to the interior plumbing of a major social network, widely used in the repressive petro-kingdom, to steal information on dissidents at home and abroad. If proven, the case would supply firm evidence of something industry figures have long suggested: that US tech giants have been extensively infiltrated by numerous foreign intelligence agencies.

Take Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder and prolific venture capitalist who has become one of Donald Trump’s strongest Valley supporters. In July, without providing evidence, he claimed that Google’s “seemingly treasonous” refusal to work with the US military might be down to “thorough infiltration by Chinese intelligence”, calling on US spies to investigate the possibility in a “not excessively gentle manner”...

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