Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What privacy? I use Google ...

When news got out that Google had indexed GoogleVoice transcribed voicemails the other day some people were shocked, some angered ... I just figured it was par for the course as far as Google is concerned. I think the lovable bear has now become the over-grown monster.

You're not concerned, right? Is it time to get the tin-foil hat out?

First, let's see how Google interacts with us in our daily lives ...
  • Google Analytics (website cookie-based tracking)
  • Google AdWords (advertising)
  • Google GMail (email)
  • Google Voice (voicemail)
  • Google Maps (local, national, global maps)
  • Google Docs (documents stored in the "Google Cloud")
  • ... and this list goes on, and on, and on, and on ...
So you see folks... this should start to concern you, deeply concern you. Google likely knows more about you than your parents, your spouse, or even your employer - which brings up an interesting point...

What's stopping Google from launching the next great Google service - "Google Complete Profile" ... that's right Google can combine all the information it has on you from many, many disparate (and hopefully segregated) databases and offer anyone a complete profile on you -for a price.

Think I'm crazy? Google can index where you like to eat, what you search, what sites you visit, what you buy, where you go to, who calls you and what calls you make, what documents you write and what emails you get. Combining that into a complete personal profile is an absolutely terrifying idea.

Sure, it's no big deal that the largest data-mining organization on the planet has every piece of information about me that's crossed the Internet ... or is it?

Put the pieces together! Some of you get fired up about the government's Patriot Act and spying on US citizens ... but what about Google spying on YOU?! I'm not saying that I know of any specific projects within Google to conspire with, say, the US Government (or any other governments for that matter) but let's pretend we believe in conspiracy theories for a moment. Let's pretend that Google is feeding all the information that it has about all of the users it has through a monstrous analytics engine and then red-flagging suspicious activity which is then forwarded to the proper authorities.

Did you search for "pipe bomb", then map out a directions to the local Radio Shack or hardware store? Did someone send you an email with schematics and/or reference revolutionary ideals? Did you get a voicemail or place a call to someone that's already "on the list"? Was there an email thread or newsgroup you participate in that would red-flag you in conjunction with the other things already mentioned?

So, call me crazy, call me a conspiracy nut ... but I'm going to keep wearing my tin-foil hat and limit what information I give to Google voluntarily ... but I suspect that it will be a futile effort, given their depth of penetration into our daily lives.

What do you think?


Andy Willingham said...

Raf, I agree with you. I made the decision a year or so ago to try and become Google free for this very reason. Unfortunately it's not that easy. When it comes to online RSS readers and maps Google is the clear winner in my book. I still use them and even have a gmail account that I use for sites that I don't want to know how to really find me. I moved my blog off of Blogger and use Google analytics on my new site. I also block Google analytics with noscript. I tried and tried to find another RSS reader but the only one I found that I liked even a little kept having issues so I went back to Google reader. Maybe one day I'll find a replacement for reader and maps and then will be about as Google free as anyone can be in today's world.

Stephan Wehner said...

I find it also remarkable that the information that Google stores about everyone is not accessible to them personally.

But if the police comes and asks for information stored about so - and - so, then they would hand it over.


Elias Bachaalany said...

well, you can think like that, yes. It is technologically possible, but what can we do?

if we stop using google then we start using something else, then with time we will end up with the same problem but with a different name (not google this time).

Anonymous said...

Uh, isn't this blog run on Google servers? 0o