Google, on the other hand, had as its informal motto, "Don't be Evil." It was the company that allowed us to use the web in a meaningful way by giving us Google search. It seemed to be the embodiment of the idea that a company could do a great public service and make a healthy profit. GMail, Google Reader, Google Translate and many other services improved my life, did not cost me a thing and Google made tons of money with various advertising services. That was pre-2012 Google. Now Google is going to use my information in ways that I never intended and the nice little phrase "no opting out" can be Google translated as "and there's nothing you can do about it."
Your attention is directed to Google’s Watching You: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly. Google is now going to expand its practice of filtering Google search results based on what Google knows about me.
As the author notes, "Maybe if I’m from New York, I’ll see more articles favorable to the Giants for the next ten days. If I’m from Massachusetts, I’ll see articles supporting the Patriots.
"That doesn’t seem so bad… at first. But let’s dig a bit deeper.
"Let’s say I’m a political animal. Perhaps I get a lot of mail from Move On, or spend time with the Drudge Report. Google already uses this information to select what it shows me when I search. The 'Obama' links shown to the Move On reader are very different from those shown to the Drudge browser." id.
That is pretty significant. I can imagine someone working on a degree in Abnormal Psych may have some interesting sponsored links in their GMail account. Congress passed a law saying video rental stores could not keep permanent records of what movies I rent, but now Google will be doing that for what YouTube videos I watch. It is really quite Orwellian, except it turns out Big Brother isn't the government, but it is Google, which is already much more powerful than a bunch of national governments.
What can be done? Not much. European privacy laws may eventually temper some things. There will be antitrust investigations and Congressional hearings. But Google is already too ingrained in our personal and professional lives for most of us to even limit our usage. Google Reader will know your online reading habits and combining that with your YouTube viewing habits will give a significant window into your life and thinking.
What Google has proved is the truth of the cliché about online services: If you are not paying for the product, you are the product. Et tu, Google?