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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Google: the next Big Brother?

    So you’re in your kitchen frothing up the milk for your very own caramel mocha latte when suddenly the unsound ringing of the doorbell interrupts you.

    You answer the door to find a well-scrubbed businessman in a black three-piece suit. He doesn’t remove his “”Matrix””-ized sunglasses, and you barely understand a word that comes out of his mouth because the pristine ivory of his teeth shining from the ritual cleansing they received earlier in the morning distract you. But one word you hear brings you back: security.

    That’s a fancy word for control, but you realize what this man is selling.

    “”I would like to put cameras and microphones inside your home, so that we may record everything you say and do for the purpose of attaining information that may be used and sold to private interests.”” You forget all about the latte on the counter. “”This man is insane,”” you think to yourself, and you quickly slam the door.

    As it turns out, this very scenario is turning out to be the reality for everyone who has any kind of camera or microphone attached to their computers. In reality, however, there is no man in black trying to sell it to them. There is no need. That man’s name is Google.

    In an article published late last year by Technology Review titled “”Googling your TV,”” it was announced that Google is working on software that would enable it to record the sounds of the TV in your room, thus enabling the first true, literal interaction between the Internet and TV. This fact alone has investors and other competitors ready to break out the champagne. Google tries to assure users that this is not a violation of their privacy by stressing that this software will not actually record voices like a tape recorder would, but rather makes a sort of “”digital fingerprint”” that only the computer interprets. The data is then spit out like pre-packaged meat in a form that advertising interests can use. Nothing needed on your part, except maybe the conversation. (NSA, eat your heart out.)

    But Google’s your friend, right? We have no reason to

    This needs to stop before it starts, unless you want to let Mr. Three-piece Suit into your home for a cup of Joe in the name of security, only to see him become a permanent ornament to your life.

    think it would not keep our privacy and security in mind when building this software, right? Well, you tell me. Just last year, at around the same time the Review story was released, a former CIA case worker by the name of Robert Steele went onto the Alex Jones Show, an online radio talk show based out of Austin, Texas, to discuss how Google has ties with the CIA. In fact, if not for seed money provided by the CIA upon Google’s conception, Google would have never even gotten off the ground. Steele describes the Google-CIA relationship as a “”small but significant one.”” He also mentions that the only reason the relationship is a small one is because Google was unable to help the agency every time they called upon Google to do something for them, which is rather embarrassing for them.

    The CIA was, however, able to assist the Chinese government with censorship back in 2003. Web sites like www.Spacewar.com, were removed from Google’s search engine entirely at the request of the Chinese government. Spacewar.com is a site that discusses various research and news in the field of military space and air technology. After much added pressure by users and media, it was cycled back into Google’s search engine a few months later.

    Other companies may well be poised to follow Google’s suit, if it is allowed to move forward with this digital-fingerprint technology. TiVo, for example, has already proven to the world that it has the ability to log and keep records of everything that you are watching, like announcing exactly how many people rewound their TiVo’s to replay the famous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction during the Super Bowl.

    What’s scary is not that people don’t know about this. After all, ironic as it sounds, you can find the Technology Review article yourself by typing “”Googling your TV”” into Google itself. It’s not as if they are hiding it. The frightening thing is how people have begun to justify this type of new-age spyware technology. Today, it’s, “”They’re not actually recording voices, so no one’s invading your privacy.”” Tomorrow, it will be, “”Sure, they’re using the information against you, but it’s your choice to use your computer and their right to record it.”” Who knows what it will be after that. Maybe they’ll start charging you for it and say it’s “”for the children.”” They always pull something like that. But how might you explain their most recent development: psychological profiling of online gamers? As reported in London’s Guardian just last month, “”the company (Google) thinks it can glean information about an individual’s preferences and personality type by tracking their online behavior, which could then be sold to advertisers.”” So anyone playing games on the Internet or through a console hooked up to the Internet, such as XboxLIVE or the Wii, smile for Big Brother. You’re on “”Candid Camera.””

    But remember, if you close the door, it is for all the right reasons. This needs to stop before it starts, unless you want to let Mr. Three-piece Suit into your home for a cup of Joe in the name of security, only to see him become a permanent ornament to your life.

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