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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Google, the ULTIMATE evil?

Google - v. to execute an online search of anything, from a reputable online search engine giant Google.

Google - n. world domination, the invasion of privacy, the suppression of freedom of speech, and a working partner of authoritarian and totalitarian state.

So, what exactly is Google? How do you define Google? Is Google merely a harmless online search engine? Or, is it an entity that is more powerful than you could ever imagine? What is its ultimate purpose? For sure, it cannot be "do no evil", since with abundant capitals available from its overblown share price, one of its foremost purpose must be "to serve the interest" of its shareholders and uphold its corporate value by maximizing profit through asset, contracts, and business acquisitions. With this in mind, is there a more sinister, darker, and hidden intent of Google?

A typical user of Google will find its wide range of applications simple, user-friendly, trendy, up-to-date, purposeful, and just purely astonishing. From its spy-eye lookalike Google Earth services to its widely popular, chat-integrated Gmail functions, Google means reliable information transfer, reputable, and up-to-date information database all accessible with a few mouse clicks. Furthermore, it brings great convenience to the end-user off-line through an integrated desktop search engine, allowing one to look for long-lost files in the local hard drive with ease. So, what is there not to like? With the great convenience and support Google brings, what would I, as an end-user, has to lose or sacrifice?

Well, what, you, the end-user often don't know is with great convenience it comes with a hidden cost - the voluntary surrender of all your personal and privacy information. Let's start with Google's Gmail. It seems a great way to build up your contacts, email addresses, telephone numbers so to allow you to send, reply, forward any information you wish with ease to friends, colleagues, relatives, and your loved ones. Convenience enough? What about its personalized homepage service? It allows you to organize news, current events, and other information in an easily identifiable and readable manner. Nice. What about the Google Earth service? One which allows you to pinpoint the location of your family's house, where you've lived, studied, and worked. What about Google Calendar? Where you could map out dates, anniversary events, birthdays of all and everything about you. What about Orkut, the "online networking" community? Where you could disclose everything you possibly ever wish to disclose about yourself, such as your affiliation, political stance, religion, relationship with someone, and even relating yourself to a physical being with photos. Should I go on? Do you know how much information you've voluntarily surrendered to Google?

With each and every online service you sign up on there comes a price of disclosure. However, if the information is dispersed over many companies there wouldn't be a problem since it will be impossible to consolidate them as a whole. But, with Google being the only service provider of all the services you use, it could only mean one thing.

What Google's ultimate goal is to reconstruct a virtual profile of you, in religion, race, name, critical personal information, sex, school you went to, whom you've chatted, emailed, talked to, you name it. The list goes on and on. It could then profile an individual for its next level of data mining. What's this next level you ask? It could be a wide range of things including, from the least harmful, targeted advertisement, user-specific search results, to the most dangerous, the disclosure of information for prosecution and imprisonment of your online activity. Well, you might say that would never happen, but with the gazillion of information Google collects everyday from its billions of users, it's only a matter of time before this happens in a First World society (this has already happened, on several occasions, in totalitarian and authoritarian states such as China and Russia, respectively).

"Great power comes with great responsibility", but this responsibility is often overshadowed and diminished by peer pressure, a desirable expansion of the market, and to meet the bottom line. Although Google may sound much more friendly than its dearest rivals, Microsoft and Yahoo, it is still a corporation with an aim to meet its bottom line to fulfill the insatiable shareholders. It is no better than a typical conglomerate.

Google is aiming for total world domination, starting with the control over your privacy. Once you started using any product offered by Google, you’ll notice they would always “voluntarily” provide you with more of their “essential” services. Only after you’ve used them would you realize your voluntarily act of surrender of all private and confidential information. By then, it’s already too late. You’ve already given it your soul! So, are you the next victim awaiting dissection? It's up to you to find out!

At least that’s how I felt.

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