‘It’s for your own good,’ says invasive Google

First, an RT interview with Berkeley’s own Conn Hallinan about the Internet giant’s privacy changes, which took effect yesterday:

What’s particularly ironic is Google’s unrelenting fallback to its massive global invasion of privacy it’s the corporate insistence that “it’s for your own good,” otherwise pitched as an enhancement of “user experience.”

We’re old enough to remember a day when Google’s actions would have triggered a crowds with torches and pitchforks, with conservatives leading the charge eager to set corporate executive effigies ablaze.

For esnl, Google has made itself consistently less relevant in its efforts to find our preconceptions and then feed them, the technological equivalent of nurturing narcissism.

Google has been systemically slaving away to destroy serendipity, the joy that comes from finding something wonderful you weren’t looking for.

But the company that declares a motto of “Don’t be evil” is doing just that, and that shouldn’t come as any surprise. What is surprisingly is the audacious hypocrisy they embrace.

Google is a profit-making company, and they make money by making themselves to advertisers, who covet, above all else, predictability and despise serendipity.

Google is not about enhancing the user’s experience; it’s about enhancing advertiser profits. That’s how it makes money. And if that requires playing to our preconceptions and  filtering out the provocative, then so be it.

Under the rules of the game as its now played, Google can’t be faulted for what they’re doing. If we’re thrown into a hall of mirrors, reflecting and magnifying our own preconceptions, prejudices, and predilections, then so be it. After all, we’re being “enhanced.”

The more information Google accumulates about our idiosyncrasies across all its platforms, the more effectively it can tailor ad selections in ways most likely to get us to open our wallets. But, please, forget that bullshit about “enhancing” my experience.

And then there are the deeper questions

European Union officials pleaded with Google to halt the changes, which appear to violate EU privacy rules. But to no avail.

The company’s intransigence has drawn a sharp riposte from one key official, as The Guardian‘s Charles Arthur reports:

The European commissioner of justice, Viviane Reding, has delivered a stinging rebuke to Google over changes to its privacy policy, warning that “we aren’t playing games here” and pointing out that the obligation to protect personal data forms a part of European treaties.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian as Google’s new privacy rules came into effect, Reding said: “Any company which wants to utilise the European market of 500 million citizens – which we’ve made borderless, a golden opportunity – then the European rules apply.”

She said that if people gave up their privacy, it should be done in full knowledge, and not by “sneaking” it away.

Google faced widespread criticism as it implemented its policy at midnight on 1 March, uniting its code of practice across up to 60 services including Google Search, YouTube, Blogger, Gmail and others.

Late on Wednesday night it emerged that the French data protection authority, the CNIL, had written to the giant search engine company on 27 February and said: “Our preliminary analysis shows that Google’s new policy does not meet the requirements of the [1995] European directive on data protection.” The CNIL said it would lead a Europe-wide inquiry into the changes.

Read the rest.

Google currently accounts for more than 90 percent of web searches on the continent. according to the newspaper.

Tweet firehosing for dollars

In his RT interview, Conn Hallinan mentioned that Twitter is monetizing your Tweets.

Some details from CNN’s Dan Simon”

One of Twitter’s new customers, DataSift, has formed an alliance with the social network to get access to tweets going back to January 2010.

“Twitter has really become an incredibly valuable information source,” said Rob Bailey, DataSift’s CEO. “There are a flood of companies wanting to get more use from it.”

Starting next month, DataSift will launch a cloud-based service that will allow other companies to analyze these two-plus years of tweets to learn more about their customers.

According to its website, DataSift promises customers will be able to “unlock trends from public tweets” and “access the full Twitter firehose.”

Read the rest.

In a saner world, services such as Google and Twitter would be provided by governments [as with post offices and public libraries] or as tightly regulated public utilities [in the way telephone service providers and broadcast networks were once regulated].

But in today’s world, corporate stalking is simply the name of the game. Besides, all that accumulated and deeply personal information is just too tempting a “resource” for governments obsessed with “homeland security” and the control of dissent.


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