Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 5th Sep 2017 11:08 UTC
Google Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Vivalvi (and former CEO of Opera):

Recently, our Google AdWords campaigns were suspended without warning. This was the second time that I have encountered this situation. This time, however, timing spoke volumes.

I had several interviews where I voiced concerns about the data gathering and ad targeting practices - in particular, those of Google and Facebook. They collect and aggregate far too much personal information from their users. I see this as a very serious, democracy-threatening problem, as the vast targeting opportunities offered by Google and Facebook are not only good for very targeted marketing, but also for tailored propaganda. The idea of the Internet turning into a battlefield of propaganda is very far away from the ideal.

Two days after my thoughts were published in an article by Wired, we found out that all the campaigns under our Google AdWords account were suspended - without prior warning. Was this just a coincidence? Or was it deliberate, a way of sending us a message?

Large technology companies have an immense amount of control over and influence on our society, far more than they - or anyone else, for that matter - care to admit. We're way past the point where governments should step in and start to correct this dangerous situation. It's time for another breakup of the Bell System. It's time we, as society, take a long, hard look at corporations - in tech and elsewhere - and ask ourselves if we really want to be subject to the control of organisations we effectively have no democratic control over.

I'm not a proponent of nationalisation, but I am a proponent of breaking up Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and possibly others (I'm sticking to technology for now) to severely limit their power and influence. The products and services these companies create have become too important and too vital to the functioning of our society, and they should be treated as such.

It wouldn't be the first time we, as society, decide a certain product has become too vital to leave in corporations' unrestricted hands.

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Comment by TheCovvboyOnline
by TheCovvboyOnline on Tue 5th Sep 2017 12:23 UTC
TheCovvboyOnline
Member since:
2016-10-18

"I'm not a proponent of nationalisation, but I am a proponent of breaking up Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and possibly others (I'm sticking to technology for now) to severely limit their power and influence. The products and services these companies create have become too important and too vital to the functioning of our society, and they should be treated as such."

Absolutely agree; I'm definitely not a proponent of nationalisation either but the reach, and intrusiveness, of companies like Facebook and Google, and their associated companies, e.g. Snapchat, where that association isn't always obvious to end users, has created a situation where people are increasingly revealing an very detailed personal profile that is being used by these companies in ways that end users are unable to control. I'm avoiding Google where possible now, trying to create 'air gaps' but feel that even for sophisticated users there's little that can be done to stop information leaking out.

I don't know how governments would go about making 'Baby Bells' out of these huge organisations but something needs to be done, and the suspicion will be - if nothing does get done - that governments are enjoying the benefits of all this data gathering and profiling.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Comment by TheCovvboyOnline
by Morgan on Tue 5th Sep 2017 22:39 UTC in reply to "Comment by TheCovvboyOnline"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

It's nearly impossible to escape the reach of Google. Even after dropping them from my digital life, I find I'm still giving them information about me every time I email someone with a @gmail address. Even when a correspondent has their own domain, they may be using Google products associated with it, and I would never know.

Hell, even connecting to a hotspot that uses Google DNS puts me on their radar, since I'm pretty sure they already know the MAC addresses of my portable devices. Whether they actually do anything with that information is always up for debate, but at the very least they can track one's movement using hotspots. Uber's "God View" is another example of malicious location tracking by an unscrupulous company.

Above all other technology companies, Google must return to -- and adhere to -- their old mantra of "don't be evil" for the good of mankind, though I fear at this stage that will never happen. Alphabet, Inc. is the all seeing, all knowing superpower that we once saw as the villain in Dystopian fiction.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by TheCovvboyOnline
by Lennie on Wed 6th Sep 2017 08:04 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by TheCovvboyOnline"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

A WiFi access point can see your MAC-address, but if the only connection with Google is Google DNS, they can not see your MAC-address. Unless you have a insecurely configured IPv6 set up.

Reply Score: 3

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

You're forgetting that Google already tracks anyone who has ever (knowingly or unknowingly) loaded an advertisement on their device, creating a digital fingerprint for that person. Part of that fingerprint is the MAC address, browser type, OS version, and so on, of every device that person uses. Unless you take preventative measures and practice deep sanitation of your devices, they know everywhere you go. Your browsing habits define you, and when you browse the Internet over a connection served by Google DNS, you are giving them a direct feed of your entire browsing session, as well as pinpointing your location.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/03/21/dns_records_more_revealing_...

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/21/how-to-disable-go...

https://infocus.emc.com/william_schmarzo/mac-address-behavioral-anal...

Reply Score: 2

Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

MAC-addresses are not transmitted by IPv4 from outside the LAN to the Internet (web,dns,mail,etc)server. That is all I'm saying.

Reply Score: 4

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Fair enough, my point was that it's one of the many identifiers Google uses to track people even if they don't use Google's services directly, and I should have made that more clear in my first post.

Reply Score: 2

Dr.Cyber
Member since:
2017-06-17

They are big pals with Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam helps them grow big and strong and in turn they spy on us and dumb us down so that we can be more easily controlled by Uncle Sam.

People looking up to the government for solutions against societal problems are like cows looking up to the butcher for solutions against cow-slaughter.

Reply Score: 7

Comment by judgen
by judgen on Tue 5th Sep 2017 14:25 UTC
judgen
Member since:
2006-07-12

As long as the "sollution" is not government, i am up for it.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by judgen
by Megol on Tue 5th Sep 2017 15:33 UTC in reply to "Comment by judgen"
Megol Member since:
2011-04-11

As long as the "sollution" is not government, i am up for it.


Please read some history - mob justice isn't pretty.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by judgen
by dylansmrjones on Tue 5th Sep 2017 19:44 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by judgen"
dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

Government is the very definition of mob justice.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Comment by judgen
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 5th Sep 2017 19:49 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by judgen"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

...says the guy who didn't die at age 13 working in a coal mine because of that very same government.

Anti-government people in the sheltered west are the saddest things on earth.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Comment by judgen
by dylansmrjones on Tue 5th Sep 2017 19:59 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by judgen"
dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

Usually child labour is upheld by - and not abolished by - governments. The end of child labour in the western world is the result of direct action by the people and not the result of benevolent social-fascist governments like your favourite regimes.

Reply Score: 7

RE[5]: Comment by judgen
by The123king on Thu 7th Sep 2017 12:47 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by judgen"
The123king Member since:
2009-05-28

I'd like some of that stuff your smoking. Must be pretty good stuff

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by judgen
by Gone fishing on Sat 9th Sep 2017 02:05 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by judgen"
Gone fishing Member since:
2006-02-22

Usually child labour is upheld by - and not abolished by - governments.


Lets use the UK as example:

UK CHILD LABOUR & EDUCATION LAWS: A HISTORY
1802 Health and Morals of Apprentices Act (not enforced): No apprentice in textile factories to work more than 12 hours a day. Night work was banned.

1819 Factory Act limits working day for children in cotton mills to 12 hours. Children under the age of 9 should not be employed, but magistrates did not enforce this.

1833 Factory Act limits work for children in textile factories (children aged 9-13 should work no more than 48 hours a week) and includes provision for the education of children working in the textile factories (children under the age of 13 to attend school for 12 hours a week). Inspectors employed to enforce law.

1842 Mines Act: Women and girls, and boys under the age of 10, were not allowed to work underground. Boys under the age of 15 were not allowed to work machinery. 1844 Factory Act: Children under 13 to work no more than 6.5 hours per day. Women and children aged 13-18 to work no more than 12 hours a day.

1844 "Ragged Schools" set up for the poorest children. 1847 Factory Act limits women and children under 18 to 58-hour working week. 1850 Factory Act establishes standard working day. 1860 Mines Act: Boys under 12 not allowed underground unless they could read and write.

1870 Education Act (Forster's Act)-sets up School Boards to provide schooling for 5-11 year olds.

1875 Act passed which required all chimney sweeps to be licensed. Licences were issued only to sweeps not using climbing boys.

1878 Factory and Workshops Act: Employment of children under 10 banned. Regulations of control safety, ventilation and meals.

1880 Education Act school compulsory for children aged 5-10. 1891 Assisted Education Act funds each child, allowing schools to stop having to charge fees.

1918 School-leaving age raised to 14.

1944 School-leaving age raised to 15.

1973 School-leaving age raised to 16.

2008 Students starting secondary school in September 2008 now have to stay in compulsory education until they are 17. Source: Herefordshire Council


http://www.rgs.org/NR/rdonlyres/4F3B135C-28CF-408C-A5E0-BE14BDBC4DA...

It seems that government has something to do with the regulation and eventual abolition of child labour.

Nevertheless during this period we have the Chartist movement and by 1875 the Trade Union Movement has 1 million members and is organising strikes and direct action.

Government is a product and a reflection of the societies that generate it. If you think that government in all societies is equivalent your radical skepticism is naive and dangerous. I say this as someone who lived in interesting countries. The checks on privilege power have been hard won and are reflected in systems of government and civil society. I have no doubt they can be lost.

As for world wide proletarian revolution with pleasure as its only aim, I don't see it coming soon.

Reply Score: 2

v How I view this
by Megol on Tue 5th Sep 2017 15:37 UTC
RE: How I view this
by Licaon_Kter on Tue 5th Sep 2017 20:04 UTC in reply to "How I view this"
Licaon_Kter Member since:
2010-03-19

Did you read? It took them 3 months of discussions to "modify their site to Google liking" WTF?

Innovation? All these "normal features" of every modern browser were invented by Opera under this guy's leadership FFS!

Reply Score: 2

Fat chance
by shotsman on Tue 5th Sep 2017 15:37 UTC
shotsman
Member since:
2005-07-22

That genie escaped the bottle a long, long time ago.
Google is in a Social Media and now Social Engineering battle with the likes of Facebook.
While Google exists, it will want to use (And sell) every bit of data it can. How else can it make the billions it needs to survive?

Reply Score: 2

v Sorry but not sorry
by Ikshaar on Tue 5th Sep 2017 15:39 UTC
RE: Sorry but not sorry
by Licaon_Kter on Tue 5th Sep 2017 20:05 UTC in reply to "Sorry but not sorry"
Licaon_Kter Member since:
2010-03-19

What part of "change the UserAgent and Docs work fine" was unclear?

Reply Score: 3

RE: Sorry but not sorry
by Dave_K on Tue 5th Sep 2017 22:55 UTC in reply to "Sorry but not sorry"
Dave_K Member since:
2005-11-16

Opera failed because it was an average browser with a terrible business model, not because of Google Docs.


I can't argue about the failings of their business model, but calling one of the most innovative ever browsers "average" is just ignorant.

Many of the features in today's average browsers originated in Opera. Some features in Opera from the start, e.g. saved sessions, took the best part of a decade to filter down to its competitors. There were plenty of other Opera features that can barely be replicated today even with extensions. In my opinion nothing has matched Opera 10-12 for elegant and flexible tab management.

Opera stagnated and regressed; the current version is a dumbed down shell of the browser it was before its Chromification, but its commercial failure back in the 00s wasn't down to it being average.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Sorry but not sorry
by Kochise on Wed 6th Sep 2017 04:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Sorry but not sorry"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Can't say about their business model, I paid them 3 times through the 9-12 era to show them my support.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Sorry but not sorry
by Sabon on Thu 7th Sep 2017 15:52 UTC in reply to "RE: Sorry but not sorry"
Sabon Member since:
2005-07-06

I tried several times to make Opera my default browser. I stopped using Safari and Google and Firefox for anything that I could do in Opera. I made it my default for a whole month (31 day month) and in the end I just didn't like the browser. I LOVED a lot of features that only it had. But the interface ... I can't remember if I could put my finger on it or not, but I just didn't like it.

Reply Score: 2

70/50 rule
by Sabon on Tue 5th Sep 2017 17:04 UTC
Sabon
Member since:
2005-07-06

My personal take on this is that any company that grows to control over 70% of a market should be split in two (or more) pieces. This would, of course, extend all the way up to the parent of all parent companies.

In other words, at the top of any business hierchy chart, cannot own one or more companies that COMBINED own more than 50% of a market segment unless they grew in a combined way to organically own more than 50% of a segment.

To clarify. If all their companies made up 49.999~% of a market segment, they could not buy another company that brought them to more than 50.00000~% of the market.

This would stop monopolies from forming or being bought.

This would take care of every market that exists. If enough countries make this rule for every company that does business in their country, it would block monopolies from being able to do business in more and more countries and effectively limit their power.

What about companies like Google with Android where they don't directly control over 50% of sales? The company would be split up into enough separate companies until they controlled less than 50% of the smart phone market.

Note: This includes Apple because Apple controls more than 50% of the profits.

The downside of this would be that if you wanted Product A, because you feel it is the best product in the world. Unless you were rich you might not be able to afford it any longer because of supply and demand.

If more than 50% of the market wants that product, you have demand with limited supply. This would allow that company to raise the price of their product. And how many companies wouldn't raise their prices if they felt the market would support that? Very few.

How do you fix things? I would like to hope that the smartest minds in the world like Stephen Hawking would help come up with an answer for things like this.

Reply Score: 4

RE: 70/50 rule
by Ikshaar on Tue 5th Sep 2017 17:15 UTC in reply to "70/50 rule"
Ikshaar Member since:
2005-07-14

You cannot create competition out of thin air. Facebook owns 100% of the Facebook market because it is just a product. Same for Apple. Only Apple sell Apple computers so it is a moot point.

Even for the online search, Google dominates because they are better than anything else. Let's not forget that Google succeeded because they had a better search algorithm than AltaVista and a cleaner webpage than Yahoo.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: 70/50 rule
by KenWD0ELQ on Tue 5th Sep 2017 19:35 UTC in reply to "RE: 70/50 rule"
KenWD0ELQ Member since:
2017-09-05

Google doesn't need to be "broken up" like Judge Green broke up AT&T so long ago. (The issue that caused AT&T to be broken up was unauthorized handset headrests. If AT&T didn't provide it, they didn't allow ANYBODY to attach ANYTHING to a telephone.)

What's required is for the FCC to tell Google, "Either you'r a common carrier, or you're not. And you REALLY want to be a common carrier!"

A "common carrier" isn't allowed to make any decisions about the kind of traffic that they carry. Nazis, KKK, Planned Parenthood, Antifa, ISIS; if Google is a "common carrier", then they can't do ANYTHING about it. THe flip side is that if Google is NOT a common carrier, then GOOGLE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERY BITE OF DATA, for every link, for every email that they send.

So every bit of child porn, every insult, any derogatory remark posted to Blogspot, EVERY offensive comment - if Google isn't a common carrier, then it's their responsibility.

Google REALLY wants to be a common carrier. But they MUST treat all data equally to qualify.

Reply Score: 4

RE: 70/50 rule
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 5th Sep 2017 17:23 UTC in reply to "70/50 rule"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

My personal take on this is that any company that grows to control over 70% of a market should be split in two (or more) pieces. This would, of course, extend all the way up to the parent of all parent companies.


The problem is that a lot of corporations can be far more powerful and influential while not having any majority share whatsoever. Apple has like a 90% share of smartphone profits, and is probably a far, far more dominant and influential player than any other company. Defining influence by market share is a recipe for injustice.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: 70/50 rule
by kristoph on Tue 5th Sep 2017 19:35 UTC in reply to "RE: 70/50 rule"
kristoph Member since:
2006-01-01

Yes but defining it arbitrarily is a recipe for corruption.

Reply Score: 2

Strange list
by WorknMan on Tue 5th Sep 2017 17:46 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

but I am a proponent of breaking up Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and possibly others


I don't understand why you include some companies in this list, esp. Facebook. I use Messenger to chat with a couple of friends, and that's about it. I could quit using their service tomorrow and not feel that my life has been negatively impacted. Same/same for Apple. I would probably include Amazon on the list too, but I'm visually impaired and can't drive, so I find Amazon Prime to be extremely useful, although mine is sort of a niche case. I imagine 97% of the population would do fine without Microsoft as well.

Google, however, is a different story. They honestly scare the hell out of me. Thing is, I don't think their services would work quite as well if split them up.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Strange list
by Savior on Wed 6th Sep 2017 07:05 UTC in reply to "Strange list"
Savior Member since:
2006-09-02

You know it's not just that. First of all, even having to use Messenger instead of any IM application (you know, because the protocol is open) is monopolistic practice.

Second, Facebook is unfortunately much more ubiquitous than what you admit. Many businesses (at least here in Hungary) don't even bother to have websites, and are Facebook-only. High school / university students (OK, the latter not much so) expect their teacher to communicate with them on Facebook, not on email. Etc.

Facebook has a well-deserved place on that list.

It

Reply Score: 2

RE: Strange list
by JLF65 on Thu 7th Sep 2017 01:08 UTC in reply to "Strange list"
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

It's telling who is and who ISN'T on that list. Long before you break up anyone on that list, you should break up major banks, telecom companies, and media conglomerates as they've done far more harm to the market and the people than all the companies on that list combined.

Reply Score: 2

Google's New Motto
by KenWD0ELQ on Tue 5th Sep 2017 19:23 UTC
KenWD0ELQ
Member since:
2017-09-05

Google's motto only needs two punctuation marks to make it accurate.

Instead of being "Don't be evil!", Google's motto needs to read "Don't! Be Evil!"

Because Google started being actively evil about 3 years ago.

Reply Score: 2

What good would it do?
by darknexus on Tue 5th Sep 2017 19:33 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

Let's say you break these companies up. We'll use Google as an example, or Alphabet if you prefer. So, you break it up. Now there's Google1, Google2, Google3. All of them are still collecting data, and still marketing ad space. They share data with each other. And...? What, from the users' point of view, has changed except for seeing three logos instead of one and maybe having to visit separate web pages for gmail, Docs... oh, wait, they have to do that already.
So, you've broken them up. You feel amazing about yourself. You've made a major change. Except, nothing has changed. Your data is still being collected and shared, still being mined, and still being given to any government that had it before. But, hey, at least it's not a big company anymore, right? Because that sure makes a difference...

Reply Score: 2

RE: What good would it do?
by Sabon on Thu 7th Sep 2017 15:34 UTC in reply to "What good would it do?"
Sabon Member since:
2005-07-06

The key is that they would be legally banned from talking to each other. No deals at all between the companies.

Reply Score: 2

No Simple Answers
by Pro-Competition on Tue 5th Sep 2017 20:07 UTC
Pro-Competition
Member since:
2007-08-20

I'll be the first in line to say that something needs to be done about these data giants, but unfortunately breaking them up doesn't seem to be a viable option. In fact, there are no easy answers to this one.

The only viable option seems to be a radical overhaul of users' rights to their own data, along with strongly regulating the industry for compliance (similar to utilities). That would obviously be a major change, and a complete departure from the "wild west" approach to capitalism of recent decades, but technology has advanced so quickly that a major overhaul is required (and overdue).

Reply Score: 2

rekabis
Member since:
2010-02-25

As some have said, breaking up is not a viable solution. Facebook is an integrated unit. How would you break it up? Its different components are integrated together as deeply as a networking stack is integrated into an OS - and neither can survive without the other.

What makes sense for monolithic companies that cannot be torn into self-sustaining pieces would be to classify them as Common Carriers. As in, they would no longer be able to restrict the transmission of information simply because they considered it objectionable. In fact, censorship of any kind would then become impossible. They could still remain dominant in their spheres of influence, but they would be forced to accept all comers and be able to reject none. Controversial videos will not be blocked or deleted. Controversial sites would not be delisted. Only verifiable falsehoods could be downplayed when actual information was being searched for.

Reply Score: 2

Berend de Boer
Member since:
2005-10-19

If you become really successful as a company, you should be punished. Is that the lesson?

Reply Score: 1

puenktchen Member since:
2007-07-27

It's not about being punished, its about working markets. If you win a round of monopoly, you need to reset the game to keep on playing.

Reply Score: 2

M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

The lesson is; become a really successful company so you bud new companies.

Its really not the end of the world for companies to be split up.

Their shareholders could still buy into or automatically retain shares in the new entity. Splitting up companies isn't seizing assets after all. Employees keep their jobs, only with a different entity. Customers are moved over and get their bills/emails with different letter headings.

The important thing is separate boards, management, legal responsibility and so on, so they don't act as a homogeneous whole.

Reply Score: 2

Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

The question is, why and what is the need for ? Look at Intel different business units (pro vs consumer) unable to keep up demand because unable to 'share' data between people, like if they were separate entities. It only make things more complex and some jobs redundant.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by M.Onty
by M.Onty on Wed 6th Sep 2017 16:59 UTC
M.Onty
Member since:
2009-10-23

My worry is the accumulated information on a quarter or more of the population of the planet (and growing). Facebook alone knows more usable secrets than the sum every blackmailer and secret police in history. GCHQ have to bust a gut to get a fraction of what we give Facebook for free.

Its nice that these companies seem to be largely run by moderately nice people, or at least people who aren't actively interested in holding the world to ransom one individual at a time.

But the weight of that information and that possible power and that potential for control... Its inconceivable that it doesn't start to seep out, at some point.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by M.Onty
by M.Onty on Wed 6th Sep 2017 18:07 UTC in reply to "Comment by M.Onty"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

Oh, and by the way, I don't mean to sounds paranoid. I'm not suggesting Facebook will start blackmailing people. I mean being in that position of omniscience is unprecedented and I can't see it being healthy. Literary dystopian mega-corps know less about people than these moderately friendly Internet giants. It cannot but change the dynamic of company, State, consumer, citizen, and law.

Reply Score: 2

Agreed
by Poseidon on Thu 7th Sep 2017 02:15 UTC
Poseidon
Member since:
2009-10-31

Totally agreed Thom, it only makes common sense. There should be government ran local options on certain things, and search engines perhaps should be one, but then again USA is struggling with infrastructure so no hopes up there.

Reply Score: 2