Verne Kopytoff (cool name for a cool guy) at SF gate sent me his article Google has lots to do with intelligence (SFGate)
A guy called Mike Bradshaw heads a sales team of 18 out of Mountain View that sells their search technology to Federal, state and local agencies to bruing in another revenue stream. (Google's overall revenue , mostly from online advertsiing was $16.6 billion last year , roughly the size of a small pharma company)
These includes the intelligence agencies (of whom there are at least 20 known ones in the US) the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the state of Alabama and Washington, D.C.
Some contracts constitute mini intranets for use in searching internal documents and Government data - or for integrating mapping data from Google Earth.
The spooky bit is Intellipedia. This is a system which Sean Dennehy of the CIA masterminds. It is said to be a network aimed at helping 37,000 agents share intelligence (so only about 1% of them). Which seems about as unlikely as snow in summer.
Allegedly modelled on Wikipedia, and probably just as fucking reliable. This 35,000 artcicles , 200,000page databox (Wikipedia just today reached 10 million pages) is said to be maintained by the director of national intelligence and is accessible only to the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency and an alphabet soup of other intelligence agencies and offices. Which is what Echelon is supposed to be, which was developed over 20 years ago.
Such stories drip out daily.. maybe true, maybe not...but here's a spooky thing. Logging onto Amazon , for the first time we clicked on what they recommended to read, obviously based on purchase/search history - the result was unexpected and frightening. Better order some cookery books and knitting patterns.