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Friday, November 28, 2008

The Google Threat

We saw the movie "Eagle Eye" recently - a movie where a rouge, "Big Sister" computer system gets morals of its own and decides to remove the President ET AL from office by taking control of pretty much everything than runs on electricity. All very physical stuff to allow for the prerequisite car chases and pile ups that the movie going audience seems to depend on.

In reality, however, the framework for a real life Big Brother takeover is being built this very moment - to the delight of most Internet users - including myself - who marvel at all the latest bells and whistles and eagerly adopt them into our web lives. The title of my post probably gave it away - but I am talking about the Google.

I don't think Google or the folks who run Google have an evil plan to take over the world and demand ... One Million Dollars ... but they are sure creating a setup that would make things a lot easier for somebody who did...

Consider the awesome power of the Google:
  1. As the most popular search engine, it controls the dissemination of information - i.e. it shows you what it thinks you should see...
  2. As online commerce grows, so does the power of the Google grow in that it can control to a large extent which companies make money and which don't. If it wanted to...
  3. Many companies, including large and well known companies willingly hand over their sales data to Google via the Google affiliate program, Froogle and probably a few others I am unaware of. Google knows which companies are selling which products and how many of them they are selling.
  4. They know who is buying them too, and whether that person has enough money in their checking account to cover the purchase and whether their credit card is maxed out - probably their credit limit too. How? Google Checkout. The Google's answer to Paypal.
  5. Google knows that you want an iPod for Christmas - (it read that in your email - for now just to display Google Ads to you in the hope that you click on an iPod ad- enabling them to charge Apple a nickel - unless of course the Google knows that Sony has more money to pay for Google Ads so it tries to convince you to buy a Sony Walkman or whatever they are called these days).
  6. Google also knows where you live, your telephone number, and probably other little bits of trivia you may or may not want to share.
  7. Google knows that you have the ugliest house on the block and that you rarely mow your lawn. Google knows that your home is easily accessible from 3 sides and that good cover is provided on two. Google also knows that you needed directions from your house to some cheap motel on the other side of town and that there are 4 other better hotels within a 5 mile radius of your home that you could have needed directions to, but didn't.
  8. Google knows that you often search the Internet for the keywords "naked women", or that last week you needed information on some exotic communicable disease.
So, what mischief could somebody make who knew your name and personal information, where you live, what your house looks like, the street you live on looks like and the distance to the nearest police station, where you bank, your bank account number, your personal spending habits, the gossip you shared with your best friend and your deepest, darkest secrets?

Uh Gee George, I don't know!

How much do we trust the Google? Just who has access to what information?

Let's play "extremely paranoid weirdo" for a second and come up with a crazy scenario just for kicks... Let's say Osama bin Laden bought a big chunk of Google stock - through a front company - say Aunt Betsey's Cookies & Tractor Parts, Inc. - enough stock so that he could influence and make demands on Google management (via his henchman, Aunt Betsey).

If Osama bin Laden had access to all that information about you and half the country - do you think that would be a good thing or a bad thing?




Ummm, I see what you mean. Google will soon be telling us what to have for breakfast and what to wear for the office.

Anonymous said...

extreem paranoid weirdo sounds like a SUPER FUN GAME!!!! but you have to also question who would *want* to know that. The Facebook knows much of this too. What if The Facebook and The Google got together?!!! dundundunDUUUUN :)
I likey your blog btw :)