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Cory Doctorow's Fiction About An Evil Google

CowboyNeal posted about 7 years ago | from the government-search-engines dept.

Google 182

ahem writes "I saw a link on Valleywag to a story written by Cory Doctorow about what would happen if Google got in bed with the Dept. of Homeland Security. Chilling, well written, but the ending was a bit anti-climactic for my tastes."

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The ending (2, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 7 years ago | (#20692513)

Ahem wrote, "... the ending was a bit anti-climactic for my tastes."

Could it really have ended any other way?

Re:The ending (4, Funny)

1u3hr (530656) | about 7 years ago | (#20692735)

Could it really have ended any other way?

"If you want to imagine the future, imagine a boot stamping a human face... forever."

Re:The ending (2, Funny)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | about 7 years ago | (#20692775)

God knows that's preferable to actually READING something of Doctrow's...

Cory Doctorow visits a Radio Shack (3, Funny)

Dr. Cody (554864) | about 7 years ago | (#20693667) []

Cory and the rest of truly epitomize the worst excesses of the Blogosphere. Too bad we can't lock them all up in Second Life and feed them to the furries.

Re:The ending (2, Funny)

25thCenturyQuaker (739040) | about 7 years ago | (#20692969)

>>>Ahem wrote, "... the ending was a bit anti-climactic for my tastes."


The Great Corius is gonna get mad at you and hold a grudge for years .

You can forget ever registering an account to leave comments on the new BoingBoing 2.pi, because he knows people at both Google and the DHS.

Re:The ending (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20693367)

Who cares how it ended... it's the biggest load of paranoid shit.

I mean, seriously, cowboyfuckface over here needs to learn what's NEWS and what's FICTIONAL DRIVEL.

This is neither NEWS nor for NERDS. It's some dicktard doctor wanting to get famous - just becaus you're a doctor, doesn't mean you're right.

Re:The ending (1)

kjzk (1097265) | about 7 years ago | (#20693487)

LoLuMaD ?!?!?

Re:The ending (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20693413)

"Could it really have ended any other way?"

The longhoped-for bullet could have entered the brain of... someone we didn't like for a happy ending, someone we didn't like for a sad ending.

Re:The ending (4, Informative)

julesh (229690) | about 7 years ago | (#20694177)

Ahem wrote, "... the ending was a bit anti-climactic for my tastes."

Could it really have ended any other way?

No, it couldn't. For those who missed the significance, the basic structure of the story was copied from 1984.

Fiction? (5, Insightful)

Leftist Troll (825839) | about 7 years ago | (#20692533)

How do we even know Google isn't already in bed with the government? Under the PATRIOT act, they wouldn't be able to disclose it under certain circumstances.

Re:Fiction? (2, Informative)

MrNaz (730548) | about 7 years ago | (#20692563)

Fiction [] eh? []

Re:Fiction? (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | about 7 years ago | (#20692611)

I thought that this was struck down by the courts? You're a bit late my friend.

Re:Fiction? (0)

Leftist Troll (825839) | about 7 years ago | (#20692639)

Right, but the gag orders still stand pending appeal of that case.

Re:Fiction? (0, Offtopic)

WithLove (1150737) | about 7 years ago | (#20692823)

I think you could find the uncompressed pr0n on Yahoo or something.

Re:Fiction? (5, Insightful)

davetd02 (212006) | about 7 years ago | (#20692987)

Google is the #1 company that has been fighting AGAINST government intrusion into search.

Google Rebuffs Government Subpoena [] -- Google went to court many times to stop the government from getting search queries. Yahoo and MSN gave the government what it wanted almost immediately.

Think about it -- Google requires users' trust to create new services. You wouldn't use Google Mail if you knew Google would sell you up the river for nothing. Whatever new service comes next I'm sure the same thing will be true; their market is all about collecting data and interconnecting it, but you won't give them that data unless you trust them. They have every incentive in the world to fight the government on your behalf so that they can keep the trust of their users.

Re:Fiction? (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20693099)

Google requires users' trust to create new services.

Really? Sure, they would lose you and me as their customer, but how about the "nothing to hide" crowd? Look around and realize that people simply don't value their privacy, at least their online privacy, to any kind of extent, or do you think our politicians would spew forth laws like the ones currently getting rushed through for warrantless online search and search pattern recognition if they thought people did care? If people cared, do you think this wouldn't be a topic in the election race?

Fact is, most people do not care about their privacy. They spew their private information like candy. Offer them a chance to win a T-Shirt and they will give you whatever private information you want, even if you tell them you'll sell it to whoever wants it. Try it, you'll be amazed. We did. Out of 3000 possible participants, a few more than 2000 entered. I now have email, phone number, home address and name of more than 2000 people who wanted to win a ticket worth approximately 20 bucks. No, they didn't get a ticket for 20 each. They all have a chance to win ONE. And I could (if I wanted, but I won't) sell that info to whoever I please, there isn't any kind of agreement that would keep me from doing so.

Now you know the value of privacy to your average person. Do you really think Google would get any kind of backlash from violating the privacy of its users?

Great commenter on TFA page!!! (5, Interesting)

drx (123393) | about 7 years ago | (#20693497)

So, people don't value their privacy?

Look at the topmost comment on the first page of the story [] ! Some dude called

Alberto S. Lopez
Lawndale, CA
Cell: 310.686.1259

explains how he read this story on his iPhone!!!

AhAh AHaAhHAh HAhaHAAHahAHaaa!!

Re:Fiction? (2, Funny)

Wite_Noiz (887188) | about 7 years ago | (#20693971)

The best example of this is the current trend to tell people your "porn name" - which is your first pet's name and your mother's maiden name...

Couple this with the fact that people give out their email address and date of birth to anybody (see any social network), and you can have a great time with identity fraud. Weeeeeee!!!!

Re:Fiction? (2, Interesting)

Jarik_Tentsu (1065748) | about 7 years ago | (#20694015)

I may sound stupid here, but I think even if Google was passing info to the NSA or Homeland Security, I'd still use it. Fact is, it's still the best search engine out there. I may be against it in theory, but from a personal still gives me what I want.

Me refusing to use it really doesn't give me, or the cause anything. And hey, it's not like the government will be interested looking at all my "nekked chicks" searches much.

Once again, you may call me stupid, but that's just the way most people, including myself, think.


It's not that simple (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | about 7 years ago | (#20694211)

It's not as simple as, "Fact is, most people do not care about their privacy." The same people who spew "you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide" all over the place, would sue your arse into oblivion if you were a peeping tom under their window. Or would ostracize you very quickly if you gossipped to their enemies every word they said.

Some time ago I was reading some anthropology books, to figure out how people work. (Since I'm naturally blind to body language or such, so not much chance to figure it out on my own.) One thing that stuck into my head was that there's a _massive_ disconnect between what people say about themselves -- even on a completely anonymous poll -- and what they actually do. What they say is an ideal self image, the self that they'd like to be, not the self that they actually are. And that ideal self has more to do with social acceptability than with anything else.


- a community had this shiny-happy self-image that they help each other all the time, work their fields together, help each other build a house or a barn, etc. And they all answered just that on a poll. Turns out that in practice the last time anyone actually did that was half a century ago.

- a tribal community had this self-image of being brave warriors and hunters, etc. And almost everyone defined themselves as a hunter on a poll. Turns out that in the meantime they were mainly agriculture-based, and most didn't even have a weapon to hunt or fight with. But they still thought of themselves as hunters and warriors.

- on one occasion where meat prices rose, a western community was asked if they eat more or less meat. Almost everyone said some (more polite) version of "fuck that, I'm not paying that much. I'll buy less meat until the prices come down to something sane." Well, funny thing is, they then asked the local supermarkets and actually went through the thrash to see what people throw away. Turns out the meat consumption was actually higher. (I guess some kind of weblen effect.)


Plus, even on anonymous polls you have to deal with effects like:

- people trying to pick the answer they think would be more socially acceptable or would please the person polling them. E.g., if one choice has even vague negative conotations, or is phrased to sound that way, people will try to avoid it.

- more people will answer "yes" than "no", presumably because we've all been educated that it's not nice to refuse too much. So professional polls actually switch the question around on half the forms, to average that effect out. E.g., if the question is "should we pull out of Iraq?" half the forms will actually ask the opposite, "should we continue the war in Iraq?" Otherwise you'll have the results skewed.

Now this may sound like a case of "who the heck said anything about polls?" but bear with me. The same effects will be visible in day-to-day conversations, posts, etc. In fact, to a higher extent.

Briefly, just because some people chest-thump that they have nothing to hide, doesn't mean that they actually don't. It just means that their ideal self image is like that, plus it makes them look better to their peers. It doesn't mean that they match their own ideal, though.

And finally, note that this isn't necessarily "lying". Most people actually genuinely see themselves as better than they really are. It's really just a combination of selective confirmation (you'll remember the times you acted according to your principles, but forget those times when you did the opposite) and cognitive dissonance (rationalizing something so it fits the rest of your mental model. E.g., honest people don't lie, I'm a honest person, omg I just lied to someone for a petty personal advantage... therefore it wasn't really a lie, now that I think about it.)

Re:Fiction? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20693479)

They have every incentive in the world to fight the government on your behalf so that they can keep the trust of their users.
No, they have every incentive to appear to fight the government. Whether they actually fight is another matter entirely.

Re:Fiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20694371)

Into search yes. At least in the US. China on the other hand, well they're happy to hand over details which end up with people being jailed. But that's ok, they're only foreigners right?

Re:Fiction? (1)

will_die (586523) | about 7 years ago | (#20693181)

Really and what section of the US PATRIOT Act would that be?

Re:Fiction? (4, Informative)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | about 7 years ago | (#20693453)

Section 505, "Miscellaneous national security authorities." Allows for National Security Letters that bypass judicial review. Struck down on April 9th, 2004 by Doe v. Ashcroft. Reauthorized legislation later struck down on September 6th, 2007, by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero.

Re:Fiction? (2, Interesting)

will_die (586523) | about 7 years ago | (#20693767)

Except in this case he is saying that Google was "in bed", which by slang definition would mean they are cooporating under no legal requirement, so law has no effect. Google is able to sell, or give away, any of the information they collect.
As for a legal requirement that Google provide information the US patriot act would not had much of an effect compared to the laws in effect before it was passed. The US PATRIOT act made it easier to get a NSL, by bypassing a judicial requirement, and added terrorism as one of the reasons they could be used. So even without the US PATRIOT act there are plenty of laws that allow access to that any of the data Google collects all with the "you cannot call up the suspect and offer to sell them information that law enforcement is investigating them" restriction.
Then as you mentioned the US PATRIOT act allowance to do this has been struck down so the government could not be collecting this information without the customer knowledge. Which goes to the original point made bythe author and the people who marked the comment informative; what part of the US PATRIOT act allows the government to do this?

Re:Fiction? (1)

thsths (31372) | about 7 years ago | (#20693357)

> How do we even know Google isn't already in bed with the government?

Absolutely. After all, it is not really up to Google. If the government calls, they have to answer. And a fake answer along the lines of "sorry, our search technology is not up to this questions" does not sound very plausible, hm?

Re:Fiction? (2, Insightful)

aguenter (1060008) | about 7 years ago | (#20693949)

Back when AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth agreed to help the NSA in its little wiretapping scheme, Qwest declined to compromise its customers' privacy. Private entities have zero obligation to assist the government in these kinds of matters, unless there are legal grounds.

Re:Fiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20693435)

MS (a google wannabe) _is_ in bed with Dept. of Homeland Security.

What would happen... (4, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 7 years ago | (#20692543)

"....if Google got in bed with the Dept. of Homeland Security."

The resulting offspring would spend all their time searching themselves for terrorists.

Re:What would happen... (2, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 7 years ago | (#20692891)

The resulting offspring would spend all their time searching themselves for terrorists.

Except in China! :)

Re:What would happen... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20693073)

Fine with me. That way they're occupied and leave me alone.

Re:What would happen... (1)

jkrise (535370) | about 7 years ago | (#20693703)

I just tried this scenario on Google: "Google got in bed with DHS"
More than 650,000 offsprings apparently! []

And about 510,000 of the offspring seem to be terrorists!!
"Google got in bed with DHS terrorists" []

70% chance for the offspring to be a terrorist, if Google Research(TM) is to be believed :-)

imagine a ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20692545)

Imagine if AT&T got in bed with the NSA

Or if Exxon Mobile influenced energy policy

Or if Pfizer wrote Medicaid Drug Rules

Or if draft dodgers led the US Military

Or if a Horse Commissioner was in charge of FEMA

Oh look OJ Simpson is robbing Brittney Spears Stomach Fat I got to go

Re:imagine a ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20692843)

You are stating all facts contrary to the illusion portrayed by the mainstream media. Therefore you must be a conspiracy theorist. Be quiet! We like being uninformed and living in our fantasy world.

uhm.... yeah (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | about 7 years ago | (#20692559)

what would happen if Google got in bed with the Dept. of Homeland Security.

Well, DHS loves performing cavity searches, and Google's the best search engine out there right now. You do the math.

Chilling? (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | about 7 years ago | (#20692591)

Chilling? Maybe if your name is Daniel Brandt, but back here in the real world this stays most definitely in the real of fiction.

Re:Chilling? (2, Funny)

zoward (188110) | about 7 years ago | (#20694399)

Chilling? Maybe if your name is Daniel Brandt, but back here in the real world this stays most definitely in the real of fiction..

I think you meant "realm". Freudian slip?

This is fiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20692605)

Granted, I'm not a great fan of fiction outside of Hemmingway, but damn, could you pick a more lame and boring subject?

I think I'll write a fictional story about what would happen if my neighbor took a shit.. Wanna read it?

Re:This is fiction? (3, Funny)

cyphercell (843398) | about 7 years ago | (#20692727)

I think I'll write a fictional story about what would happen if my neighbor took a shit.. Wanna read it?

I think I'll wait for the movie :)

Re:This is fiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20692769)

In the Future, everyone will know you wanted to see someone's neighbor take a shit on the big screen.

Re:This is fiction? (0, Offtopic)

untaken_name (660789) | about 7 years ago | (#20692795)

The book is better. They really lost a lot of the subtlety in the translation to the big screen.

Re:This is fiction? (1)

mcrbids (148650) | about 7 years ago | (#20693001)

I think I'll write a fictional story about what would happen if my neighbor took a shit.. Wanna read it?

I think I'll wait for the movie :)

Movie's out, complete with a dorkass who laughs at his own reflection on the video! But hey, don't listen to me, check it out fer yourself [] !

Re:This is fiction? (3, Informative)

theefer (467185) | about 7 years ago | (#20693067)

Granted, I'm not a great fan of fiction outside of Hemmingway, but damn, could you pick a more lame and boring subject?

Cory was actually commissioned [] to write a story on this topic.

This means nothing. (1)

ArrEmmDee (1151355) | about 7 years ago | (#20692617)

It's just another dystopic Big Brother Is Watching You story, except the ominous corporation's name is Google. There's nothing new here except a vague possibility.

Google vs NSA (3, Interesting)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 7 years ago | (#20692619)

You know, the NSA is much more established the google. They knew about the insecurity of DES encryption for DECADES before anyone else did. They even convinced IBM to keep quiet about it when they found out. I'm quite sure anything Google could do they are already doing in some cases ( albeit to non US citizens, except when directed to by the executive branch).

Re:Google vs NSA (3, Interesting)

hobo sapiens (893427) | about 7 years ago | (#20692871)

DES was 56 bit encryption, and it has been speculated by some that the NSA was capable of brute-forcing that back in the 70's. It's probably a safe bet that the NSA is ahead of the game. They are probably reading this right now, or at least, they would be if they gave a crap about me.

I think the one thing the NSA doesn't have is all of the data that Google has (or maybe they do? ok, the tinfoil hat is off now). If Google gave up their data, the NSA would have more than a bunch of search queries. Think of the queries themselves. Those might cough up a lot of insight into how people think.

Re:Google vs NSA (2, Interesting)

chazwurth (664949) | about 7 years ago | (#20692977)

Or, it's possible that Google has an edge on the NSA in some areas. The NSA has a lot of talented people. Google has a lot of talented people. The people at the two organizations aren't all working on the same problems with the same amount of focus. So we don't actually know.

Personally, I take the point of the story to be that the federal government could, in the right legal climate, use private industry to do a lot of dirty work, which is why it isn't safe for us to allow Google to acquire all of our information now. Who knows -- in that possible future, Google's role might allow the NSA to free up a lot of talent to work on a whole range of other nefarious projects.

NSA actually made DES stronger! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20693065)

DES was actually quite strong, it is only in the past 10 years or so that certain attacks that reduced its strength became public, but its main weakness was being only 56 bit encryption which was fine when it was designed but by the late 90s computing power had increased by a dozen orders of magnitude and it wasn't good enough even if there were no attacks.

The most interesting thing is that when IBM drafted DES and the NSA was given the draft for their comments, they suggested certain changes. For many years conspiracy theorists believed the changes were to make it easier for the NSA to crack it, when in fact the changes prevented certain types of attacks that only became public about 20 years later!

That doesn't prove or disprove the conspiracy theories that hold that the NSA either had an attack against DES back then or had the computing power to brute force it (though I think the latter is pretty obviously false on its face given the state of the art in the 70s)

Re:Google vs NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20693255)

The NSA knew about a particular attack (differential cryptanalysis) on IBM's *original* proposal for DES-- an algorithm called Lucipher-- and did, in fact, prevent the IBM team from reporting the attack.

However, what you fail to mention is that the NSA made modifications to the algorithm that actually STRENGTHENED it against differential cryptanalysis. Yes, the overall key was shortened, but attacks against the original Lucipher algorithm (especially following the academic discovery of differential cryptanalysis) have shown it to be a terrible algorithm-- much less secure than DES.

DES may have a short key (likely due to the NSA's desire to crack it), but most cryptologists will tell you that it's a surprisingly good algorithm. It may have a small keyspace, but you have to search through most of it. To this day, the very best attacks against it are not much more practical than brute-force (and, in fact, the infamous "DES cracking" challenges have all been accomplished by brute force).

So be a little more careful about your accusations. The NSA may have known about problems with the original DES proposal, but they sure as hell didn't allow the United States to standardize on an algorithm that was known to be weak against cryptanalysis.

Re:Google vs NSA (1)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | about 7 years ago | (#20694093)

Well if the NSA was the only organization that (back then) could conceivably build (super expensive) hardware capable of brute forcing the shorter key, then what they did was create a secure back door.

They strengthened the algorithm to keep the competition out, and lowered the number of bits so that you have the ability to break an occasional key.

It was a back door based on wealth and manpower, but still a backdoor.

Re:Google vs NSA (2, Interesting)

vonkug (1159761) | about 7 years ago | (#20693483)

ASSUMING that they're not already forking over their massive quantities of aggregate data to the Feds...

In line with the "do no evil" mentality, I'm curious if Google has any kind of Order 66 for their data servers, something to eliminate / "lose" the data in the event of an attempted takeover. That would be one hell of an interesting internal document. Because an organization of this kind, of this supposed benign attitude, must possess something of the sort.

DES (2, Informative)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 7 years ago | (#20693785)

The NSA changed the S-boxes without explaining why. When the white world re-invented differential cryptanalysis, it turned out that the NSA had strengthened DES with the changes.

The only realistic weakness in DES was the short key length, which the whole world knew about. To this day, triple DES is an accepted if slow cipher.

Yes! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20692781)

Just what the world needs ... more leftist piss ... oh wait .. he's criticizing capitalism? Genius!

Aren't they? (1)

p0ss (998301) | about 7 years ago | (#20692789)

I had just assumed they were, or at least that they were spying on each other.

Why all of the Google Bashing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20692815)

I'm one of the biggest conspiracy nuts you could ever run into. But I have never once thought of Google as bad, invasive or in any way "in bed" with the evil government. Google is fucking awesome, it has made the internet useable! Now recent events do set off alarm bells (Google Desktop, no fuckin way; and their selling themselves to Wall Street) but Google overall seems, by my gut instinct, benevolent and valuable. The DHS is none of these things. My gut feeling says "trust Google" but I'm always suspicious, always.

Re:Why all of the Google Bashing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20694207)

I'm one of the biggest conspiracy nuts you could ever run into

No you're not:

But I have never once thought of Google as bad, invasive or in any way "in bed" with the evil government

... and that's why. If you don't by default assume that ALL entities you give information to (Google, Facebook, company http proxy etc) are (ab)using it you're not a "conspiracy nut" at all.

(Posted anonymously, even though I'm sure my style of typing is already in a database most posts on the Internet are being matched against)

Oh. I'm not a US citizen. I guess that's why I'm not as naïve.

Mod parent up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20694503)

Well, he(the parent:) IS right - the grandparent couldn't be paranoid if he didn't even for a moment feel conspicious of ANY company.

I find the story wonderful, btw - just the thing to give you some paranoia-induced thought, with, IMHO, the creepy, unhappy ending such a topic calls for:)

Do no Evil (1)

SoyChemist (1015349) | about 7 years ago | (#20692847)

Harry Shearer, host of le show, made some jokes about an evil google. He said, "You know our corporate slogan? We want to take one word out, and it isn't evil."

So what do you do? (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | about 7 years ago | (#20692851)

You like GMail's interface and integrated chat/calendar/documents. You like Google Reader. What are you supposed to do now that you know you've been sucked into it all? And where do you go that's more secure, knowing that DOJ owns your ISP anyway?

Seriously, somebody Doctorow me up some answers.

And this is fiction because...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20692899)

I have no doubt that Google has already been approached by intelligence agencies. I have little doubt that they have already complied with numerous requests for datamined extracts from the gigantic Google database. Why is it so hard to believe that Google could be actively working with DHS right now?

Are you questioning their patriotism? ;-)

There's no fiction (1)

Big Nothing (229456) | about 7 years ago | (#20692923)

Google IS evil. []

Re:There's no fiction (0, Troll)

heinousjay (683506) | about 7 years ago | (#20693183)

Google was evil from the first penny they took in. If they truly wanted to be good, they would drop all money making schemes and simply provide their services for the good of the public at large.

Re:There's no fiction (2, Insightful)

rumith (983060) | about 7 years ago | (#20693293)

From the linked article:

If you use Blogger, Google knows what you're passionate about.
If you use Blogger, everyone interested in your persona knows what you're passionate about. That's the damn point of blogging.

Re:There's no fiction (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about 7 years ago | (#20693359)

If you use Blogger, everyone interested in your persona knows what you're passionate about. That's the damn point of blogging.

Some people might have passions they'd rather not were public knowledge, so they create an online identity they use when in an online community of like-minded souls. (As I do here, my name is not actually "1u3hr".) Google though knows all your identities, either because you told them directly to sign up for GMail, Blogger, etc, or they can deduce them from the linkages. If you didn't use your real name when signing up, it will soon turn up in your mail or posts somewhere.

Re:There's no fiction (1)

ultraparanoid (1121539) | about 7 years ago | (#20693447)

To me,

* knowing what I'm blogging is certainly not an invasion of my privacy.
* knowing what I search for is not an invasion of my privacy.
* knowing what things I purchase is not an invasion of my privacy.
* knowing what my documents contain is an invasion of my privacy.
* knowing what my e-mails contain is an invasion of my privacy.

* knowing all of the above and being able to data mine from a complete record of my e-information is a huge fucking invasion of my privacy and I don't trust Google to handle that information in accordance with what is in my best interest.

That's the point of my blog post - not that what you blog should be a secret.

Re:There's no fiction (2, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 years ago | (#20694397)

If you use Blogger, everyone interested in your persona knows what you're passionate about.
So, basically, no one knows what you're passionate about?

Re:There's no fiction (1)

Mikkelin (945622) | about 7 years ago | (#20693665)

What an unimpressive proof by blog link. Especially considering the following comment reply from the blogger: "I agree that nothing in my post conclusively points out that Google is doing evil things, only that the potential for doing harm to your privacy is huge."

Re:There's no fiction (1)

Big Nothing (229456) | about 7 years ago | (#20693789)

It all boils down to your definition of "evil". Is evil only eating live kittens and forcing you to watch old reruns of "Will & Grace", or is evil also invading your privacy?

Re:There's no fiction (1)

Mikkelin (945622) | about 7 years ago | (#20694117)

To answer your question, yes, I consider invasion of privacy to be evil. However, I would not describe my relationship with Google in that way. I would rather say that I freely choose to use their excellent services, while they hoard personal data about me with varying degrees of my blessing. That hoarding constitutes a risk, like so many other things in life, though I do not consider it evil in itself. In fact, I am a lot more worried by some of Google's competitors. The "Don't be evil" motto is somewhat unfortunate for Google, because it seems to put unreasonable expectations on them.

IF ? ? ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20692929)

Is it not blindingly obvious that Google is the commercial arm of the NSA's Echelon technology ?

(cf. recent demonstration of hacking up a 4xFPGA dictionary computer from an old graphics workstation.)

The trust was NEVER there (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20692983)

I automatically assume any data that finds it's way to their servers will be stored forever and used against me in whatever way possible be it to make money or to help the government in it's "war on terror". It's safer to just assume google is currently and has always rolled over for the government when they request information. That's why if it's something that I am even remotely worried about, I use other channels that bypass their systems, or at least allow me to stay anonymous in my interactions with them. There are plenty of things I do online, that, although not illegal per se now, I would never want to be attached to my real identity.

I just assume that they are (4, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | about 7 years ago | (#20693015)

I consume a number of Google services, and bare no grudge against them. However, tend to assume that all big companies with access to a lot of user data is in bed with the US government. Frankly, I don't know why one would assume otherwise. Simply act accordingly when using the services of such companies. (1)

khb (266593) | about 7 years ago | (#20693027)

If putting your email, pictures and search data "out there" isn't enough , the folks at mint will happily store your financial records and access information automatically for you.

Of course, it may just be sooo handy that it's irresistible . (1)

rm999 (775449) | about 7 years ago | (#20693081)

Woah, that's actually a really cool website. Looks like they have a decent privacy policy too. If someone wants to know how much money I spent on beer and gas, that's their problem.

Thanks for the link :)

That's why... (4, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 7 years ago | (#20693105)

I monitor Google's Execs [] each and every day for goatees. You can't be too careful.

Re:That's why... (1)

KikassAssassin (318149) | about 7 years ago | (#20693763)

Oh no! It's begun! []

Re:That's why... (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | about 7 years ago | (#20693979)

Ok, a guy called Dr. Brilliant with a goatee...where did they find this guy, and does he own any white cats?

who I am/was (1)

richardellisjr (584919) | about 7 years ago | (#20693217)

This article made me deeply think about about this site and you know, I consider myself a conservative and even gasp a republican. But I find myself more and more fighting the draw into becoming paranoid about big brother. I suspect a lot of the reason I'm becoming that way is because I read slashdot. Is it just me or is there a lot of paranoid discussion on it. Or am I really seeing the light now. I suspect it's a little of both, unfortunately the louder of the two camps controls this site so I'm not sure I can cleanly digest the facts of what's going on in our country while reading this board anymore. I think I need to take a break from /. and try to figure things out without the bias that the "loud" slashdot community has. I know this is a personal rambling, probably influenced by the many beers I've had but I'm not sure slashdot is where I should be going for "news for nerds, news that matters" anymore.

Re:who I am/was (2, Insightful)

MrZaius (321037) | about 7 years ago | (#20693347)

Electronic surveillance, the topic at hand, is every bit as much "news for nerds, news that matters." That field, like any other has to change dramatically because of the same technological developments you seem to want the site to focus on. Coverage of science fiction written about the same topic is doubly on-topic.

Re:who I am/was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20693555)

I agree, electronic surveillance is wrong in most cases, in the UK it is most definitely wrong. But the point I was trying to make was related to the article which I apparently didn't make clear enough. This article gave very a very one sided view point, and gave very little data to support that view point. However, it was was green lighted onto the main slashdot page. I personally despise cams in the way they are used in the UK and now in NY, but was trying to point out the bias of this site in that there is data that was missing from the article and some weird amounts of money thrown around. All of this should have been caught by the editors before it was published.

Re:who I am/was (1)

MrZaius (321037) | about 7 years ago | (#20693985)

I never took a position on the matter, just pointed out that the subject was well within the purview of the site - aka, news for nerds and stuff that matters.

Re:who I am/was (1)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | about 7 years ago | (#20693733)

I know where you're coming from, man. I get really frustrated with the political dichotomy in the United States. I'm a conservative because I hold dear the notion that when I go to work, I want to work for me, not for a bloated federal government and I don't want the country going down the tubes because of ever-expanding entitlement programs. The entitlement mentality in this country sickens me sometimes.

On the other hand, I share your concerns about the power the federal government is consolidating. Data mining, the pain ray, the list goes on. Make no mistake, Silent Guardian (the pain ray) will be used for torture, it's just too convenient. What I don't like is when critics call the United States "the bad guys" when we know that as flawed as our country is, we can't hold a candle to countries like Iraq and Iran in terms of human rights violations. I'm sure Mahmoud Ahmadinejad laughs when he reads about Americans criticizing their government for allegedly torturing people while turning a blind eye to Iran where people have been openly stoning people to death while the Ayatollahs remind their citizens that it is authorized by the Quran. I assure you that if Iran gets a hold of their own pain ray, you won't like the way they use it.

Yes, we should be concerned about our government, but we must not lose sight of the fact that people like Osama Bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would have us under thier heels and have plans to do so.

Re:who I am/was (3, Insightful)

ThirdPrize (938147) | about 7 years ago | (#20693793)

It doesn't hurt to take a break from /. every now and again. It does "News for Nerds" quite well but I am not sure it does "News that matters" any more than Digg. It is not a news site as such, it is just a bunch of stories that appeal to a slightly skewed demographic. You don't get a unbiased political picture here any more than you would on the Jon Stewart show. If there are any political voices on here then they are the ones at the extremes shouting the loudest.

How about evil Slashdot? (5, Funny)

msormune (808119) | about 7 years ago | (#20693277)

How abut a story about "Evil Slashdot" that is used as a massive tool for concentrated DDOS attacks? Oh wait...

why do they need the verb? (1)

opencity (582224) | about 7 years ago | (#20693475)

Just for the sake of argument -
What prevents the NSA, or you or me or Microsoft or the Illuminati, from writing a web spider and cataloging until our servers can't take it anymore? Given Google's got the software / hardware / smarts to do the job right, but it seems like the govt could reach into their vast pool of talent and unlimited resources and data mine for days.
"heck of a map reduce, Brownie"

full disclosure: I didn't RTF story but this is /. so you knew that already

Re:why do they need the verb? (1)

mritunjai (518932) | about 7 years ago | (#20693621)

The /users/ are what prevent the likes of NSA and Illuminati prevent being the top dog in this type of thing.

You wouldn't give you information voluntarily to any of them, but Google has access to what you-

* Read : Search engine, google reader (RSS)
* See : YouTube & web/image search
* Think : Blogspot
* Say : Web & YouTube
* Connect: GMail and GTalk
* Write : Search, youtube, blogspot, GTalk, GMail
* Habits : Googe cookie with millions of adsense partners who display the ads and from whose site the cookies can be read

Sorry, even the KGB, NSA and CIA would be envious of Google!

Re:why do they need the verb? (1)

opencity (582224) | about 7 years ago | (#20693717)

All good points, especially searches, gmail and the adsense cookies.
Avoidable with a sufficient level of paranoia but who is going to bother except the actual bad guys
The NSA could also be scanning all voice traffic and travel info, which combined with my cookies, browser cache and email would reveal how boring I am.

Just a question.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20693567)

Would it be cheaper for the homeland security to "mimick" google instead of
buying it out? Where is the AAA for knowing that you're using google?

Overblown (1)

iamacat (583406) | about 7 years ago | (#20693699)

Used this way, Google mining would just flag everyone and overwhelm DHS with useless intelligence. That is, unless US government goes on Stalin -like purge and send tens of millions to forced labor. Minimally useful intelligence would look for long lasting patterns of accessing the same kinds of material or for active correspondence with other persons of interest. Your data would then be put under surveillance by a human to rule out benign explanations such as scholar research or interest in popular literature. Only then are you likely to see any questioning by law enforcement in real life.

Yes, I am aware of Gitmo, no fly lists, wiretaps without subpoena. But so are other americans, people are ballistic and some of those things are getting curtailed. There is every reason to think this was a temporary fear-induced mistake and not a long term direction of our society. Even then, the article talking about government going evil, not Google.

Why does no one write these stories about MS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20693799)

Come on, they got similar services AND they more or less owns the desktop.

Liberal tinfoil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20693897)

And the site keeps spoonfeeding its members more and more liberal tinfoil... MMMMmmmmm.... lap it up...

googlecleaner (1)

ojs (93878) | about 7 years ago | (#20694003)

The interesting part is that there is already a stab at the googlecleaner out there so some people think it is neccesery []

WOOT. 7p? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20694011)

To hauve to decide sling, Return it to (2, Informative)

garbletext (669861) | about 7 years ago | (#20694075)

Funny that the title is "scroogled," that's the name of a prominent anti-google site that runs the Scroogle Scraper [] , so you can search google without having your entries put in your database. It's nice for doing searches that you'd rather not have in your search profile that google keeps for you. If you use their other services like gmail, they can basically know you intimately. I'd rather they didn't, but can't give up gmail. So it's easy to modify firefox to use scroogle instead of google for searching, and if you adblock adsense, and their urchin.js script, or just* they can't see what sites you visit either. It's sad that you have to work so hard to hide your movements from a company that "does no evil" but I guess that's the information economy for you.

You dont have to use Google (3, Informative)

supersnail (106701) | about 7 years ago | (#20694087)

Seriously you can reduce google's market share by using another search engine occasionally.
As Market Share equates directly to income in the search business you deprive google of money and power by using another search engine.

It would obviously be sinful to use MSN search, but Yahoo! is merely bad taste.

"" is nearly as good as google and has a nice clean interface.

Plus there are some Open Source "SETI at home" type search engines under development that are worth
supporting "grub" and "Majestic-12" are two.

Although as Majestic-12 is based in the UK, and the UK government is currently under the direct control of the US executive it would be easy to give the NSA direct access to everything.

Most SPAM originates from the CIA... (1)

SpzToid (869795) | about 7 years ago | (#20694115)

Most SPAM originates from the CIA. In large, ever-increasing volumes that is designed to overwhelm nearly all mail servers and accounts.

The purpose of SPAM is to drive people to use Gmail, (GMAIL is really a CIA operation) thus placating the masses and providing a useful collection and indexing tool for Homeland Security's requirements. The masses are kept 'happy' because their SPAM problem goes away, and they love CIA GMAIL for this. So many people tell me so, emphatically.

Maybe free-mail isn't really free?

So I tell these people what I just told you, and they always reply that they don't care, because they love Gmail so much for solving the SPAM problem for them.

Never Mind and "Jihoogle" (2, Insightful)

haakondahl (893488) | about 7 years ago | (#20694295)

I certainly haven't read the story yet, and not the article (I confess), but the premise sounds a bit like "Flight Plan", wherein the only movie which Hollywood has seen fit to make about airline terrorism since 9/11 features who as the bad guy? Disgruntled American flight attendants. This is ludicrous.

How about a story about Google getting in bed with the Communist Chinese government in order to help them limit information to the people of China? Oh, wait, *that actually happened*. Remember what happened if you searched for "Tiananmen Square" from Hope so, because Google turned off our ability to check that, with a quickness. How about a story in which Google could monitor and report terrorist communications but chooses not to? Oh, wait... Well, there's more money to be made in trashing America to its ungrateful and spoiled citizens-by-default. And it's the only one which actually qualifies as fiction.

Flamebait Disclaimer--

So I guess that we will just claim (in fiction, of course, I have my rights) that the agency (however bungling and infuriating) charged with keeping you little pop-culture sasquatch-hugging "I Believe" teen-agers (of whatever age) safe in a real shooting war--is somehow the evil to be fought, and that Google would align itself with the U.S. government at any rate.

Karma to burn. At least I won't actually be beheaded for expressing my views in this country.

Wait ... (5, Insightful)

mark_jabroni (547666) | about 7 years ago | (#20694455)

So if Google cooperates with the Chinese government to suppress 'dangerous' speech and (probably) to identify dissidents, that's perfectly ok.

But if they cooperate with the US Department of Homeland Security -- oh no! Look out freedom! Google is now evil!

One of these countries imprisons, tortures, and kills political dissidents. One has annexed a foreign country and has been promising to annex another for fifty years. One destroys "illegal" churches and forces abortions.

But thank goodness that Google is cooperating with the "Good" one.

I guess blogging from a high-altitude balloon... (1)

Cesium12 (1065628) | about 7 years ago | (#20694551)

...qualifies him to give us a wider perspective.
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