Quoted: Larry Ellison talks about the NSA, and his problem with Larry Page

“Who’s ever heard of this information being misused by the government? In what way? … It’s essential if we want to minimize the kind of strikes that we just had in Boston.”

Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO, in an interview with Charlie Rose, says the recently exposed mass surveillance by the NSA is “great,” and necessary. “This whole issue of privacy is utterly fascinating to me,” he said, pointing out that companies such as American Express and Visa have been collecting our information and financial data for quite some time. Ellison said government spying would be alarming only “if we stop looking for terrorists and started looking for other people on the other side of the (political) aisle.” Rose notes at the beginning of the interview that Oracle databases are used by financial companies — as well as the National Security Agency.

As Pat May wrote for SiliconBeat, Ellison also talked about his best friend, the late Steve Jobs. Additionally, Ellison addressed his company’s legal fight with Google over Android and Java, saying he has trouble with CEO Larry Page “specifically” and that Google “took our stuff.”


Photo of Larry Ellison from Mercury News archives


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  • sd

    The remaining Boston Marathon bomber did not have a list of suspicious activities to his name. His brother Tamerlan apparently did. So should the U. S. have investigated Dzhokhar Tsarnaev automatically because of his *brother’s* suspicious activities? Does it make any difference to anyone that Dzhokhar is a naturalized American citizen? Should we investigate any American of Chechen heritage? Or should we do this with *any* American citizen, hoping to find a few more (alleged) bad guys?

    Don’t get me wrong — from everything I see, the Tsarnaev brothers are guilty of the bombing. But American citizens, however they arrive at that station, are provided certain protections under what’s left of the U. S. Constitution. For Ellison to acclaim invasion of those protections by claiming they’re no different from American Express knowing I bought three shirts last May is ludicrous. And it scares me to think of the help Oracle and Java are offering NSA and other DHS agencies.

    • MJAckson

      Hah. We already know who you are ‘SD’. So reply immediately with your Full Name, Date of Birth, and SSN, before we decide post it here :-{

  • RDR

    On the NSA flap, Ellison is using his brain while others (including many who should know better) emote and foam at the mouth. Those who are truly paranoid about misuse of their personal information by those who obtain it need to stop using credit cards, stop using the internet, stop accessing healthcare providers, stop filling out FAFSA applications for their kids, stop filing tax returns, and then get themselves to GI Joes and acquire (with cash) everything they need to become a survivalist in the off-grid wilderness.

  • Hal

    The other stuff the Google guys have been taking is millions of dollars worth of jet-fuel from the Department of Defense at Moffett Airfield for their fleet of private jets.

  • sd

    I think there’s some rational place between “paranoia” and misuse of confidential information. I realize that my health care is an open book as long as a third-party insurer is footing (most of) the bill. I do NOT expect that insurer to sell my medical history to, say, Facebook, so they can inject ads for my particular condition into my news feed. Nor do I expect that insurer to share my history with companies that want to sell me motorized wheelchairs or menopause treatments.

    It’s one thing to expect a company to fulfill its privacy policy and share your information with a largely-predefined set of others. You sign the check, you condoned the access.

    It’s when an organization totally unrelated to the good or service comes spying away *cough* NSA *cough* and/or when that unspecified access casts an excessively wide net with nebulous search criteria. If that’s being paranoid, why don’t we save the U.S. taxpayers a lot of time and money and repeal the Fourth Amendment now?

  • Claire

    Unfortunately, as we contemplate the liberty-for-security bargain we’re being offered by our government, our human brains are wired to make a terrible miscalculation:
    “This is Your Brain on Terrorism” http://libertymcg.com/2013/07/23/this-is-your-brain-on-terrorism/

  • curmudgeon2000

    Mr. Ellison thinks mass surveillance by the NSA should continue
    in order to prevent incidents like the Boston bombing despite
    the obvious fact that it failed to do so. The logic behind that
    argument is clearly flawed. Indeed, there has been no credible
    evidence presented that any terrorist strikes have been
    prevented by the NSA spying on U.S. citizens.

    He also ignores the fact that the NSA data has already been
    misused by the government — the DEA uses it it to find and
    target drug offenders. They subsequently develop other sources
    of evidence (the so-called “parallel construction”), and then
    lie to prosecutors and judges about how they uncovered these
    crimes. The NSA has also stated that when they discover
    criminal activity, they notify other government agencies.

    Mr. Ellison would only be alarmed if NSA surveillance data was
    used to target political opponents, but how can anyone be
    certain that has not already happened? The time to be concerned
    about such activities is before they occur. Waiting until such
    abuse is made public is too late.

    Finally, while it is true that credit card companies do collect
    transactional and financial data on individuals, use of their
    services is entirely voluntary and other alternatives exist.
    U.S. citizens have no such recourse with regard to NSA spying —
    they cannot “opt out.” Furthermore, privacy advocates and civil
    libertarians do object to the unrestrained use of this data by
    both private businesses and government agencies.