Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 21st Jun 2011 09:33 UTC
Internet & Networking Remember when Altavista was the search engine? Or Yahoo? They stuffed their search pages with useless, distracting crap, and using them became unpleasant. And then, bam, along came Google, with a simple, clear search page and uncluttered search results. However, now that Google has become this massive behemoth, tracking our every move, and tailoring our search results, leading to only being fed those pages you agree with - isn't it time for something new? Something simple? It might be, and you've undoubtedly heard of them: DuckDuckGo. I'm switching. Update: Just got an email from Gabriel Weinberg, the guy behind DuckDuckGo. The OSNews !bang (!osnews) is now live!
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I don't see the problem...
by leonalpha on Tue 21st Jun 2011 15:02 UTC
leonalpha
Member since:
2011-02-02

"What does bother me, though, is the fact that I wouldn't be able to protect myself if the US government ever subpoena'd Google to gain access to that information. Of course, I am of no interest to them (even my porn habits are incredibly boring), but it's the principle of the thing."

I have tried long and hard to see the importance of this kind of privacy, and I have failed. This notion that if the "government" has access to my online browsing habits, "it" will at some point come and destroy me is utterly misguided to me. At the risk of sounding utterly stupid to many, I will ask: What is there to worry about? Ok, so Google (and potentially the government) knows that I go online every day and (1) sign in to facebook, then (2) go on Twitter (3) read technology articles via Google Reader (4) search IMDB for titles and cast (5) look at pictures of landmarks, animals, celebrities, etc (6) check my email, (7) use google docs and calendar to organize a little band I'm part of (8) [whatever else I might do].

Someone please enlighten this fool: WHY ON EARTH SHOULD I WORRY IF GOOGLE KNOWS I DO THAT? Don't get me wrong; I do get the principle of it (or at least I think I do): My online activities should be my concern alone, and neither Google nor the government should have access to it. That I get. What I don't get is this movement that the world will lose its balance because Google knows this and we should act now before it's too late. What are you expecting will happen? That, given the fact Google has online activity info of so many people, it will use it to create an indestructible empire and make us all slaves? That it will create a distortion field and show everyone only what it wants (thus, people won't be able to make informed decisions about anything)? That your enemies at Google are going to track you down and kill you and your family? That the government is going to come after you because you look at pictures of J-Lo all the time? That Google will broadcast the to the world the fact that you, as well as who knows what percentage of the male population, look at porn every night?

Again, this whole thing is somewhat ridiculous to me. It falls under the same category of the mentality that the 911 attack was carefully planned and orchestrated by an elite group of extremely secretive and powerful people (the Masons if you will) who control everything and, honestly I almost find this mentality upsetting.

Now, I do understand that a great deal of people do frown upon the fact that others are spying on online activity. That's very understandable. If nothing else, at least it's creepy to know that everything you do online is being monitored by others. But my point is that this ISN'T the case. NO ONE is monitoring this information. The data comes in as part of millions of people and, trust me, Google servers don't care about your online activities. Google the company cares about making money, and that's why it makes sense for them to somewhat 'track' what you do, for the sole purpose of increasing THEIR revenue. If there were something in place that broke the link between data-gathering and money making, Google would stop it at once.

Yes, I do understand that the government might see this a great opportunity to have a database they can tap into if need be. And that's the key: "if it's needed." Hey, if my neighbor is constantly browsing Al-Qaeda supporting websites, and reading articles titled "Bomb Making For Dummies" or "Explosives 101", hell I WANT the government to track him down. Why? Because if they do and it turns out he's a lunatic, an explosion that could potentially kill my two daughters can be prevented. If, on the other hand, it turns out the guy is a professor at MIT who is just trying to understand some complex physics and their effect on Al-Qaeda websites, then that will turn up as well and that's where it will end. Maybe the professor will get a visit from the FBI or CIA; maybe he'll be harassed a little or a lot; but that's something I'm willing to live with. As normal human being who is not interested in bomb-making websites and Al-Qaeda, I don't mind if this kind of track-down occurs.

The line will inevitably be gray at times but again, that's something I am willing to deal with as, from my personal perspective, the pros heavily outweigh the cons.

Reply Score: 3

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

This notion that if the "government" has access to my online browsing habits, "it" will at some point come and destroy me is utterly misguided to me.


That;'s fine - you seem to have some sort of trust in the governmental system you currently live under. I find such notions cute and naive, but you're free to hold them. I mistrust the government deeply for the simple reason that a government - as an entity, so not on an individual basis - always strives for more control, more power. Having access to everything we do will tilt the balance of power even more towards the governments - and thus, towards the large companies that have the financial means to influence policy.

The role of the internet should be to shift the balance of power back to where it belongs: the people. The government ought to be our employee, not the other way around. Laws exist to serve us, not the other way around. The government should fear us, and its individual members ought to be wholly disposable. This is the only way to ensure the government follows the will of the people, instead of the will of a few powerful individuals.

Why? Because if they do and it turns out he's a lunatic, an explosion that could potentially kill my two daughters can be prevented.


It's all about how willing you are to hand over core freedoms and rights in exchange for "safety" (between quotes, as history has shown that giving up liberties doesn't make the world ANY safer).

If the government proposes to track everyone via a chip, promising it would make your daughters safe - would you do it? Would you find it worth it? What about cameras in all homes and buildings? Would you find that acceptable if it makes the world a safer place? I am NOT willing to give up my right to privacy just because a terrorist *might* someday blow himself up somewhere. That's a risk I'm willing to take.

There have been several totalitarian states where citizens were continuously monitored. Did it make those countries any safer?

Edited 2011-06-21 15:21 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

leonalpha Member since:
2011-02-02

Having access to everything we do will tilt the balance of power even more towards the governments

Well, you and I disagree but that's cool. We can agree to disagree. Now, 1. Can you explain what "power" this info will give governments? 2. Can you site some examples where this "power shift" has proven to be hurtful for citizens.

Laws exist to serve us, not the other way around.

The way I see it, laws exist to bring order and protection — protection from the government and protection from citizens themselves.

You seem to have missed the gist of my argument: as a normal US citizen, I don't consider the government having access to my online browsing data as a threat to me. You (and many others), on the other hand do, and what I ask is that you please elaborate on WHAT that threat is. Saying that "power will shift" towards the monster who will eat us all might be eloquent, but isn't sufficient enough to justify a semi-schizophrenic mentality where every single governmental action implies the Illuminati will take over the world and enslave us all.

I do not want to give up my rights. As you say, that would be cute and naive. But again, I don't know how to label those who fear others are watching their online activity and using that info to prepare for an attack.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: I don't see the problem...
by Zaitch on Tue 21st Jun 2011 18:44 in reply to "I don't see the problem..."
Zaitch Member since:
2007-11-23

100% agree. I'd be bored silly if I looked at my google fingerprints.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: I don't see the problem...
by Soulbender on Tue 21st Jun 2011 19:59 in reply to "I don't see the problem..."
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Hey, if my neighbor is constantly browsing Al-Qaeda supporting websites, and reading articles titled "Bomb Making For Dummies" or "Explosives 101", hell I WANT the government to track him down


Really? You want him tracked down because he reads that?
What if he's reading about the Boston Teaparty? Or about the southern states in the civil war?

As normal human being who is not interested in bomb-making websites and Al-Qaeda, I don't mind if this kind of track-down occurs.


Who are you to decide what's normal?

It's interesting how back in the 80's when the Soviets did this kind of stuff the U.S painted it has evil and how it could never happen in freedom-loving USofA. Now of course, it's all for the better of mankind to spy on the citizens. Funny how that works out.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: I don't see the problem...
by marblesbot on Tue 21st Jun 2011 20:02 in reply to "I don't see the problem..."
marblesbot Member since:
2009-12-25

First, why would the government need this information? You, as a US citizen should know the US constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the fact that every citizen and legal resident are innocent until proven guilty. Gathering information assumes everybody is guilty to start with. Guilty of what? Nobody will ever know the answer to that. Gathering internet habits seems like a small step, but that's how things start. Just one small thing after another. Oh, Jews in Nazi Germany, I guess you can't ride bicycles anymore. Weird, but where's the harm in that? Besides, I don't know who's working for these companies, nor do I know personally everybody working in the government. It seems to me that anybody who is a stranger to me that knows my habits is a threat to my security. Just because they have a job with a company people want to trust, or with a government (who in their right mind trusts any government?) doesn't mean they're nice people. In fact, since the industrial revolution, most governments have been set up based on the very fact that no government can be trusted. The only reason Americans have the Right to Bear Arms is to protect themselves from their government if it becomes too overreaching. I'm a free man in a so-called free country in a so-called free world. Tracking what I do and assuming I'm guilty of something, that's not freedom. As you said, there's nothing important or interesting about your internet browsing, so why would anybody want to know about it?

Edited 2011-06-21 20:05 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

danger_nakamura Member since:
2011-06-21

Maybe the professor will get a visit from the FBI or CIA; maybe he'll be harassed a little or a lot; but that's something I'm willing to live with.


It's nice that you're willing to live with him being harrassed. I can imagine that it would be very tough on you, but I guess we all make our sacrifices.

BTW - I have a little daughter as well and I registered today to say that I disagree with almost every one of your sentiments. I love her with all of my heart, but would rather that she was struck down by a madman than have her grow up in a society where her every movement, thought and action was subject to scrutiny to determine whether she might possibly become a madman herself.

I also believe that anyone that trusts any government to carry out such an agenda without abuses really needs to brush up on the history lessons.

Sadly, however, I suspect that more people in this lovely country of mine called the USA agree with you than with me.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: I don't see the problem...
by danbuter on Tue 21st Jun 2011 22:09 in reply to "I don't see the problem..."
danbuter Member since:
2011-03-17

Regarding Google's tracking, what happens if an extreme form of government gains power after our extended recession/depression (either Right or Left)? They can use your political internet history as a reason to make you disappear.

And before you say it can't happen, read some history.

Edited 2011-06-21 22:10 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

vitae Member since:
2006-02-20

In the end it's really about how paranoid a person wants to be. To some degree, we're just going to have to give the government the benefit of the doubt, even when it screws up. What else are we gonna do short of waging a probably failed revolution?

Suppose a person worries all day that the government wants to make them disappear (and why not because people are throwing out a lot of "what if's" here). After he gets done posting his fears on all the social networking sites "that if I disappear, here's why", technically it could still happen. If, for example, they want to make you disappear, they certainly could do so, and not even to Gitmo, but disappear forevermore, and there's really nothing you could do about it unless you happen to be the Special Forces type. But how much time are you going to spend worrying about it?

A lot of people around the web are throwing out that Benjamin Franklin quote, "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither" without bothering to acknowledge that BJ lived in a simple age where they wore RED, us BLUE, and once somebody was defeated, they went home to sulk while we set off the fireworks.

Edited 2011-06-22 09:08 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: I don't see the problem...
by jholt538 on Wed 22nd Jun 2011 14:50 in reply to "I don't see the problem..."
jholt538 Member since:
2005-07-18

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

Reply Parent Score: 1