Nick Carr posted a piece about the ‘Omnigoogle’, accusing it of being messianic in tone. People seem confused about the status of Google. it can be clarified thus.
- Although Google’s working mantra is supposedly ‘don’t be evil’, evil is exactly what it has been doing in relation to Chinese censorship. This makes it a lot like a number of other US based companies who will do anything the Chinese government wants as long as there is money to be made. Google is no different from American business generally in this regard. It’s the same old same old. Compare US business attitudes to pre-war Germany.
- If there was ever an organisation with deep connections to the CIA, Google is it. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. It’s just obvious that if the CIA isn’t deeply involved they’ve missed the best opportunity in the history of intelligence-gathering.
These two factors suggest a strong case for improved regulation. It’s as though the technology has moved so fast and scaled so quickly that the citizens not only haven’t protected themselves yet – they mostly haven’t even worked out they need protecting. This seems a dangerous moment. But it’s difficult because with the hand we can see, Google seems to be offering us greater freedom. This is exactly the freedom it’s busy taking away with the other hand out of sight under the table. Neat trick if you can pull it off. The end result is that we’re made ambivalent about curtailing Google’s powers.
So what would clean Google up? Less censorship of content overseas, and less ownership of data at home. I think a revamp of law is required to make the data I generate online mine, not some company’s to do what it likes with. Oh, and if a few more people said “what if Google supports/ is supported by the CIA?” perhaps someone would start investigating it, instead of assuming that ‘don’t be evil’ means what it says.
By the way, the religious stuff – messianic, god-like and all – is a red herring.