“Your name, your address, your guns — in a big government computer,” the narrator of Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte’s TV ad says as a computer screen shows an imaginary “national gun registry.” Then Gianforte, declaring his support for the Second Amendment, raises a rifle and shoots the computer screen to bits.
Gianforte, who will face Democrat Rob Quist in a May 25 special election for the Montana at-large congressional seat, claims Quist supports such a registry. Quist did at one point float the idea of creating a registry for assault rifles. But he literally fired back at Gianforte’s claim, airing his own ad in which he shoots a TV showing Gianforte’s ad with his own rifle.
But ironically, Gianforte, whose assets are estimated to be worth up to $315 million, earned his vast fortune by selling his cloud computing company RightNow Technologies to Oracle for $1.8 billion in 2012.
Oracle, a company named after the Central Intelligence Agency project codename that birthed the firm in 1977, has extensive government contracts to provide database systems for a range of expansive law enforcement and surveillance-related government agencies, including the National Security Agency; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Department of Homeland Security.
And Oracle services have been proposed to develop database services for the implementation of California’s AB 857, one of the newest state gun registry laws in the nation. The bill, signed in July 2016 by Gov. Jerry Brown, provides new regulations on homemade firearms, including a mandate that homemade guns must be registered with the state.
The California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Firearms fiscal year budget request listed Oracle as a contractor to develop a system to catalogue and store unique firearm serial numbers for the new law. The program will be used to to register approximately 75,000 firearms within its first year. The request lists Oracle cluster servers and software to be used for the gun registry.
Gianforte’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Gianforte has touted his continued relationship with Oracle well after completing his business transaction with the firm in 2012. At the outset of his previous campaign for governor, Gianforte said in 2015 that he had partnered with Oracle to bring a new cloud computing center to Bozeman, Montana.
Oracle’s close ties to the security state are an integral part of the multinational corporation’s history. Oracle co-founders Larry Ellison and Robert Miner were tapped to re-design a database solution for the CIA for a project, code-named “Oracle,” a name they soon adopted for their nascent start-up. The company grew rapidly as commercial and government markets demanded new applications for storing and managing troves of data.
Following the terror attacks of September 11, Ellison, Oracle’s executive chairman, began a campaign for a national identification database, while working with intelligence agencies to offer new integrated services. “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,” Ellison wrote in a New York Times opinion column following the attacks.
”The Oracle database is used to keep track of basically everything,” Ellison confided to journalist Jeffrey Rosen for New York Times Magazine. “The information about your banks, your checking balance, your savings balance is stored in an Oracle database. Your airline reservation is stored in an Oracle database. What books you bought on Amazon is stored in an Oracle database. Your profile on Yahoo is stored in an Oracle database,” Ellison boasted.
In the piece, Rosen also spoke with former CIA official David Carney, who was brought to Oracle as the firm vastly expanded its footprint to develop a range of homeland security and intelligence databases for the government. “In some ways, 9/11 made business a bit easier. Previous to 9/11 you pretty much had to hype the threat and the problem,” Carney told Rosen.
Oracle has grown steadily, continuing to win contracts for complex law enforcement and government agencies, while snapping up businesses such as Gianforte’s. Several Oracle employees have donated to Gianforte’s campaign.