I’ve been involved with internet privacy for some time. My other infrequently updated blog is BooYahoo!, which is actively speaking out against Yahoo! for its despicable privacy policies in China, which has resulted in the imprisonment of innocent activists.
All along, I’ve tried to remain a proponent of Google, because it has at least tried to abide by its own slogan of “Don’t Be Evil.” Note that the slogan isn’t “Don’t DO Evil,” as this allows them to invoke an old philosophical argument between doing and being … but that’s another topic. Regardless, Google has done slightly less evil than it’s competitors. The problem I have with Google today is its enormous potential to do evil. Namely, they could look up every search term I’ve ever used and provide it to the government. Given the government’s current propensity for warrantless wiretapping, e-mail snooping, and the like, it’s no stretch for them to ask Google for their search term database. In fact, they did ask for it in 2006 under the auspices of the increasingly mis-named “US Patriot Act,” but Google refused (Has anyone heard the outcome of that standoff? It’s mysteriously not in the news.)
The fact that Google catalogs these search terms–and especially that they are cataloged by IP Address–is like waving a truffle in front of a chocoholic. It’s simply irresistible.
Case in point. I’m a writer. I write fiction. I have had to do research using terms like “nuclear blast radius” and “suitcase bomb” etc. If the government got their hands on Google’s search term database, they might have already put my name on the Terrorist Watch List. Not good.
Until then … I’m a Cuil man.