General Atomic
Access Denied

The Pentagon is Hiding Info About Google’s Work on Military Drones

All 5,000 pages of records on the project have been deemed too sensitive to disclose.

Dan RobitzskiMarch 26th 2019

Top Secret

Nine months after internal protests and public outcry caused Google to stop developing AI for military drones, the Department of Defense is keeping any records of the mysterious Project Maven tightly under wraps.

More than a year ago, The Intercept reporter Sam Biddle tried to use public information law to learn more about the drones. Now, Biddle writes that the Department of Defense identified 5,000 pages of relevant records and documents — but deemed that every single sentence was too sensitive to release to the public.

Dire Consequences

The Intercept reports that the Department of Defense claimed that every record of Google’s involvement in Project Maven, which has since switched hands from Google to defense contractor Anduril, contains “critical infrastructure security information.”

The Department of Defense sent The Intercept a memo from Chief Management Officer Lisa Hershman, who wrote that releasing Project Maven records would “provide an adversary with the information necessary to disrupt, destroy, or damage DoD, technology, military operations, facilities, and endanger the lives of personnel.”

Fell Swoop

Unfortunately for reporters, the government has a bunch of slightly-shady tricks it uses to deny requests for public records. In this case, the laws that protect information about “critical infrastructure” were written to protect chemical plants or explosives storage facilities — not AI software that helps guide drones.

Biddle writes that The Intercept‘s legal team plans to fight the Department of Defense on the basis that it denied access to records too aggressively, so there’s a chance that we may learn more about the elusive military research soon.

READ MORE: PENTAGON SAYS ALL OF GOOGLE’S WORK ON DRONES IS EXEMPT FROM THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT [The Intercept]

More on Project Maven: Google: JK, We’re Going To Keep Working With The Military After All

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