One Tiny Point about Oracle

September 5, 2022

When silicon valley-type real news outfits “correct” one another, we tend to wonder why. In this case, it appears Gizmodo writer Matt Novak feels readers should know one key bit of information omitted by a recent Vox article: the fact that “Larry Ellison’s Oracle Started As a CIA Project.” He writes:

“Vox simply says that Oracle was founded in ‘the late 1970s’ and ‘sells a line of software products that help large and medium-sized companies manage their operations.’ All of which is true! But as the article continues, it somehow ignores the fact that Oracle has always been a significant player in the national security industry. And that its founder would not have made his billions without helping to build the tools of our modern surveillance state.”

One of those tools, of course, being the sort of database Oracle specializes in. The write-up emphasizes Ellison’s longstanding belief in a large federal database, asserting the attacks of 9/11 gave the tech tycoon the chance to push his vision. Novak quotes:

“‘The single greatest step we Americans could take to make life tougher for terrorists would be to ensure that all the information in myriad government databases was copied into a single, comprehensive national security database,’ Larry Ellison wrote in the New York Times in January of 2002. ‘Creating such a database is technically simple. All we have to do is copy information from the hundreds of separate law enforcement databases into a single database. A national security database could be built in a few months,’ Ellison explained. ‘A national security database combined with biometrics, thumb prints, hand prints, iris scans or whatever is best can be used to detect people with false identities.'”

We are not sure whether Novak is suggesting Vox deliberately downplayed Oracle’s role in facilitating a surveillance state infrastructure. He certainly wants us to know the company’s fortunes rose after that fateful day in September 2001, with federal government contracts making up 23 percent if its licensing revenue in 2003 to the tune of $2.5 billion. We are reminded Oracle’s David Carney stated in 2002, while trying but failing to avoid sounding callous, that 9/11 had been good for business. Perhaps Vox did not believe this facet of Oracle’s history to be relevant, but Gizmodo can consider us, dear readers, duly informed.

Cynthia Murrell, September 5, 2022


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