Google? Privacy? Yeah … sure …

Since the beginning of Google, I have always been reluctant to allow
cookies from their site. I’ve also been reluctant to heavily use
many of their other services. Part of this has been my
understanding of their overall architecture, and knowing that they
could choose to store a whole lot of information about me. Is
this just paranoia? No … it is because of my understanding of
the inevitable. I fully understand and accept that I’m just
delaying the inevitable … and so it’s just my little game with the
giant Google.

So what am I talking about? It’s the fact that computers are
getting to be so pervasive, and their ability to gather information
about us, and create profiles, exceeds our own abilities to distinguish
our own behaviors. We all have certain predictable behaviors,
many of which we are aware of. We also all have behaviors that we
are not aware of … that
become predictable to others who gather enough information about
us. Computer systems are able to gather large amounts of
information, and mine that information for patterns that we are not
even aware of.

I often use the simple example of grocery stores and their “discount”
or “members” cards. Yeah … just sign up, allow the grocery
store to gather information about everything that you have ever bought,
and they’ll give you a little discount. C’mon … what could it
hurt? Honestly, I’m not sure how it could hurt … but I have
thought through the amazing amount of behavioral data that they could
gather from you. The potential for them to then prey upon your
undistinguished behaviors and reactions grows quickly. They know
what day you buy what. They know what aisle and shelf it was on
when you bought it. They know the color of the packaging when you
bought it. They know the messages printed on the packaging when
you bought. They know the weather, the time of day, and the phase
of the moon. Your grocery store knows much more about your buying
patterns that you would ever think of.

And Google? Uh huh … they know your on-line behaviors. Big time. According to this article FAQ: When Google is not your friend
they have been recording everything that they can. Of course they
have been … storage is cheap, and only getting cheaper. They
know every search you have done, and when you did it, and what Google
Ads that you might have clicked on from the results. So
what? Yeah … I’m not immediately sure of the impact on my life,
however it is interesting to think about what Google can start to know
about you, and who you are, by all of this data. When are you
on-line. When do you search for what. What kinds of Google
Ads attract your attention. Where do you search from. To me
… this is pretty amazing. When you begin to think about mining
this huge volume of data it seems to me that some interesting patterns
have to emerge. Google can begin to know a lot about you, your
interests and undistinguished behaviors. Google … knows who you
really are. Google … knows your true identity.

Oh yeah … you use Gmail? Google Groups? Google
News? Google Alerts? Google Maps? Holy cow … they
have a whole lot on you! 🙂

What is so funny to me is when people are all up in arms about the
“government” and what “they” can find out about you. The article
above really touches on an ironic twist. The government can find
out all about you … as soon as they get it from Google. You
see, you have been giving your privacy away to Google and don’t
complain a bit. How could a company with a motto: Do no evil!
do anything wrong with all of this information they are gathering about
you? Well, I guess that we’ll see. It’s all inevitable … if it
isn’t Google … it’ll end up being yet another company. The
pervasiveness of the Internet, computers, cameras, sensors, and all
things technological is merely the solidifying of the next
substrate. The technologic substrate is forming all around us. The singularity is coming … and Google is just an example of the evidence.

Leave a Reply