'The growth of intelligence agencies in the 21st century has been powered by the development of new technologies, created by start-ups, which are powered by intelligence agencies. This unvirtuous circle of money and espionage is a new and daunting challenge for civil liberties and human rights groups.
The U.S intelligence community has a venture capital organization, Inqtel, founded by the CIA in 1999. Now Israel’s Mossad has Libertad Ventures.
As The Times of Israel reports
Libertad was set up as a strategic investment arm of the Mossad. Its purpose is to help build the organization’s technological capabilities and create a bridge to the Israeli startup industry. Since its establishment, the fund has received hundreds of applications from both Israeli and foreign entrepreneurs, the statement said. The Mossad, the Shin Bet security agency and even the Israeli army are stepping out of the shadows and opening up to working with civilian firms, as greater cooperation is needed .
“Stepping out of the shadows” is another way of saying intelligence services are increasingly open about what they used to do secretly.
Inqtel’s board of trusteesis an all-star team of Silicon Valley bankers and intelligence agency operatives, including former CIA director George Tenet. Its alumni includes dozens of high tech firms. Libertad, by contrast, says it will not disclosethe name of companies it funds.
The alliance of venture capital and secret intelligence professionals serves the needs of both. The technologists gets funding. The spies get cutting edge tools to surveill enemies, control dissidents, and wage war: spyware, facial recognition technology, and autonomous weapons to name a few.
Some of these technologies may make the public safer–detection of chemical and nuclear weapons–but all of them make secret intelligence agencies stronger.'
Read more: Mossad and the Rise of the VC-Spy Alliance