Google, the online BigBrother

The all-seeing eye of world’s media has been recently fixed on Google, one of the largest organisations in the world. Google’s products are nearly inseparable from the online web and millions of users see them as necessary. They are well- thought, user friendly and, what is most important, free. However, what we often don’t see is that behind the curtain of innocence and brilliant PR, there are enormous corporation gears that watch every single of our online steps.

It has been just a few days ago that Google has changed their privacy policy and announced adding an option called ‘Shared Endorsement’ to Google+ and YouTube, which affects not only their standard advertising channels, but also users’ privacy. Although the company keeps users able to opt out from the shared endorsement option, the modification in privacy regulations has already brought a debate in media.

Google’s main source of income is advertising. No wonder they seek new ways of attracting customers. But how far can they go? We already know Google is an expert of email scanning.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/gmail-flagged-over-privacy-concerns-1.1411443

They also track our reading habits (Google Books), entertainment likes (Google Play), travel preferences (Google Maps) or finally searching needs (Google Search). And, yes, they do make money out of it! What is interesting, the company provides users with ‘opt-out’ options, yet there have been numerous cases when the system failed. But who will stand against the multinational giant? As consumers we have little power. We can protect ourselves by using various programs, such as AdBlock, but what really concerns me is that even the toughest laws and regulations hardly ever push Google away from the privacy-abusing practices.

google_products

At this point we could stop and think whose responsibility it is to protect our privacy? Is it the law and international regulations? Is it Google that should realise their immoral practices will affect their audience of both consumers and customers? Or is it us that should protect our privacy on worldwide web? It’s up to you to decide but one thing is clear- Google has power and is no longer afraid to use it. They might try to sell to us all the brilliant ideas of how we can benefit from their advertising (who wouldn’t like to have advertising of the best hairdresser in town on your mailbox when you’ve just been looking for one 5 minutes ago? DUH!) but at the end of the day it might be our picture and our personal information ending up next to the ad.

Google, I’m scared of you!

-Aneta

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4 responses to “Google, the online BigBrother”

  1. openedward says :

    First of all, I think this is a brilliant insight to a topic that has become increasingly important in recent times. With multinational corporations and marketing companies scanning and analyzing every aspect of our day to day lives, at what point do we become metaphorical slaves to their whim? Who will decide when the line has been drawn? if we went back 50 years and told people that in 50 the future large companies would be able to track your whereabouts 24/7 via GPS, read every correspondence you ever make and take almost every personal detail from you, they would think the world had gone mad, and yet we see it as completely normal.

    I really enjoyed your take on this and I think it’s something that needs a wider coverage to show the people of the technological world that eventually a line must be drawn.

    • prethicsandissues says :

      First of all, thank you very much for your kind words. I think privacy issues around Google are just beginning to grow. Obviously, Google has had these kind of problems for years now, but with the new technologies and new products (GoogleGlass!) there will be more and more public and media attention. People are getting more aware of the situation and also more willing to protect private data (btw, isn’t that a bit of paradox in the ‘all- social-media-and-public-exposure’ world? hmm…) And yes, you are absolutely right saying that to some degree we are not even prepared for that because of the technological changes. We don’t even get used to one thing, when another one comes up. This is also a challenge for law regulators where to draw a line and how to convince a multinational company to stick to them (HA HA!). It will be very interesting to see how the debate between Google and international governments will go. Can’t wait!

  2. edmonton says :

    Well the truth is, if you want to have a minimum of privacy on the internet stay away from google. This is difficult and to be honest leaves you as a passive user of the web. Sadly nowadays any attempt to get some more privacy is received as a suspicious activity (see tor network). Anyway, great approach to the topic! It’s good to show people how they internet day to day activities are used by massive corporations.

    • prethicsandissues says :

      Thank you for your kind words, Edmonton. I belive people are already aware of the privacy- abusing actions of Google and try to protect their data from the online corporation giant. However, I still think there is a bit of paradox in it, as it is the same people that post their private stuff on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. Double morale or simply stupidity..hm..? I can also agree with the ‘passive web user’ statement, as Google is bombarding us with new products that we feel are inseparable from the online- life experience. For example, just imagine trying to find the new-open pub in town without using GoogleMaps or buying to the latest album of your favourite artist without checking in first on YouTube. But being a market lider has its consequences, too, and I’m quite sure Google will soon feel the pressure arising on them.

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