In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, Google CEO Eric Schmidt made the following comment which frankly, I find not only offensive, but very disturbing.
“We (Google) know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are.”
If you feel like a pawn in a bigger game that you don’t understand, and you wonder just why this insatiable need exists for Google to collect more and more information about you, you’re not alone.
Schmidt can put it perspective for you though –
“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,” he says……. You get a billion people doing something, there’s lots of ways to make money. Absolutely, trust me. We’ll get lots of money for it.”
Despite Schmidt’s claim last year that privacy is dead, and that people don’t care about privacy, any number of recent surveys refute this assertion. A much more realistic and balanced view on privacy, can be had at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic.org), is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. “which focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values.”
If you’ve ever wondered how invasive Google really is, there’s a small Firefox addon on that will help answer the question.
Google Alarm puts up a small message box for any web site where information on you is being sent to a Google server. The screen capture below shows that Google collected information on me, at 53 of the sites I visited this morning. I must admit, I found this rather amazing.
The information collected, at first glance, seems rather harmless. But, with the ability Google has to correlate and data mine, (much of that ability jealously guarded), I have no doubt, that the captured information is anything but harmless.
Here’s a short video which shows Google Alarm in action. Just click on the video to run.
I’m not suggesting that you need to run this addon as a permanent fixture in your Browser, but I do recommend that you give a spin. If it acts as a wake up call on how powerful Google has become (it should), then it’s done its job.
Note: If you decide to install this addon, you’re better off choosing the “workplace-friendly” version which dispenses with the annoying sound alarm, and relies only on a flashing message box.
If you’re a Chrome user, a Beta version of this application is available.
Download at: the developer’s site.
Additional articles on privacy posted here, include –
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