Google – Mark of the Beast – Continued

Added to that is the data harvested from Google Analytics.  It’s one of the most popular web data packages out there because, again, it’s free.  Google can see what IP addresses are going to what web sites, even if you don’t have their toolbar enabled or use their search.  And they can tie those IP’s back to the ones you’ve used when you were logged in to ANY of the Google services.  That also gets cross referenced with your search data. 

For those of you who don’t know, an IP address is like a phone number.  It’s how two computers on the internet know how to find each other to send data back and forth.  The problem is that there are only so many numbers and a LOT of people who want to be on the internet, so we reuse them in various ways (DHCP, NAT, etc.)  So lets say for a moment you go to the library and use a computer.  You log in to your gmail account.  Correctly or not, the IP address from that gets associated with you.  Even though there may be dozens of other people who will use it that day, it gets associated with you.  Who knows what those other people searched for?  What if they were looking at kiddie porn and snuff films?  Do you really want that associated with you???  How would you feel if you got turned down for a job based on that???

What if it is something that you looked at?  How many times have I googled for something so that I could prank someone?  Yet now because of it, terms like “leather daddy” are now permanently stored in my search history with google.   All just waiting for the FBI to show up with a letter of national security and pull it all out. 

You think you’re good – but how many of you want your mom to know that you watched “2 girls 1 cup”?  How would you like for that to come out at say a custody hearing for your kids?  Orkut, the social network site, is also a  Google product.  Google knows who your friends are.   

Feedburner is now a Google app.  Google knows what blogs are read and what blogs you publish by your IP address.    Nevermind Google Base, Google Trends, Google Book Search (Google knows what you’re reading so put that R-rated comic down before your boss finds out), and all of the other Google products.

Now Google is launching Android, an operating system for smart phones.  Now Google will be able to geo-locate you, thanks to GPS.  Through Android, Google will be able to harvest data on your phone calls, text messages, web browsing, and which apps you have installed/uninstalled and how you use them – both in terms of frequency and for what.  That could include even taking a peek at your bank balance should you decide to check it from your phone. 

Google’s reaction to all of this comes from their CEO and I’m quoting “If you don’t want other people knowing, then you shouldn’t be doing it.”   Really…  That’s your big solution to prying into my life… 

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Google – Mark of the Beast – Part 2

I wrote this blog entry back in 2006, explaining why the Google logo is the “Mark of the Beast”. Since then, things have gotten remarkably worse. Google just doesn’t store your email anymore. Google used to just store your email and your Google IM chat log files. And not just the stuff *you* think you’re keeping. But the stuff you thought you deleted – that’s still there too!

Google has launched several new services. First, now that you have a gmail account, it stores all of your web searches. FOREVER. Even if you don’t log in, it will associate web searches with you because it comes from an IP address you used previously. We’ll get into why that’s a really bad idea for you later. Right now, we’re focused on what all Google is collecting on you. And keeping. And combining.

If you use the Google toolbar or Google’s Chrome browser, it stores your entire browsing history. FOREVER. Now Google has launched other products. If you use Google Calendar, Google knows about your doctor’s appointment on the 24th at noon. If you use a Google docs spreadsheet to track your tax information, you just gave Google access to your income tax data. If you use Google groups, Google has a good idea what your hobbies are. Google reader knows which RSS feeds you’ve subscribed too. Google alerts let Google know what information you find to be critical. Google Finance lets Google know where your money is. Now with Google Voice, Google knows who’s calling and texting you and they are doing a text conversion on the voice mails so that they can mine this stream of data as well. And with Google Wave, they can combine these services into one bundle. If that’s not creepy enough, part of Google Maps for your cell phone includes this thing called Google Latitude. It gives your actual real time physical location. Google *can* find you. And it keeps and tracks this data, like everything else Google does, FOREVER. Do you use Google Checkout? Google knows what you’ve been buying. And where it’s been sent to.

And this isn’t just limited to Google branded products. Plenty of other things out there are owned by Google. If you blog on Blogger, Google knows it and uses the things you blog about to increase their ability to see into your life. If you use Knol, Google knows what you’re looking up and what information you’re writing. If you use Orkut, Google knows who your friends are. If you use Picasa, they have access to your photos and the comments that are made on them. Same goes for posting video on YouTube, another Google product.

Ah, but wait a moment you say. Google’s motto is “Do no evil”. That might have been the case when it was 2 guys and a bunch of other nerds running a small private company. Now, though, its a publicly held company. They have a board of directors and share holders that they’re responsible to. Aside from my persistent fears of a police state thanks to the easy, warrant-less access to these records, its darn scary to have one company holding that much data on you. Unlike the credit bureaus, they don’t have to show you what they have. They don’t have to let you correct it. And they can sell it to anyone they want.

Let’s say for a moment that the impossible happens, as it almost always does. Let’s pretend that Google goes out of business. All that data is a huge asset. It would likely be sold at auction to the highest bidder(s). How comfortable would you be with having the IRS have all the data that Google’s been keeping on you? Let’s say it gets sold to someone like PublicData.com. How comfortable would you be with your boss having it? What about your wife? My wife’s not a problem, you say. Let’s pretend for a moment you’re a middle aged guy with a mistress. You’ve been purchasing condoms. Still want your boss to know? Your wife? What about your preacher? Or your neighbor? What about the hiring manager at the job you’re trying to get?

And don’t think it won’t happen. To pretend otherwise is flatly naive. The first time your right to privacy comes up against the Board of Director’s right to a bonus or the shareholder’s right to a dividend, guess who’s going to loose? And at that point, it will already be much too late. You, the consumer of a “free” service, won’t have much of a legal leg to stand on. And they will already have released your data. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it doesn’t get put back in.