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Big Brother Inc.

Posted: Updated:
DOODLE 4 GOOGLE
Matteo Lopez

Google Inc. has become a more intrusive and effective "Big Brother"
than even George Orwell imagined in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Google knows
what you want, think, believe, say, read, write, watch and intend to
do.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt once boasted: "Google's policy is to get
right up to the 'creepy line' and not cross it." But they have
crossed it. Without asking for permission, a Google Android phone
tracks your location a thousand times a day; Google's search and
ad-serving technologies track everywhere you go online; Google Street
View cars photograph your house and eavesdrop on your wireless
network; Google reads your email; and now Google is integrating all of
the private information collected by their 500 products and services
to create user profiles that make Facebook look, in contrast, merely
skin deep.

Google may know you better than you know yourself and certainly better
than Orwell's Big Brother could. Google knows everything about you
because it is their business to know. Google is in the influence
business; it clandestinely converts your private information into
behavioral targeting data to fuel its $30 billion targeted advertising
monopoly.

Consider the "creepy" ways that Google targets you:

Your Identity: Google is meticulous about identifying you so they can
target you at all times. There's no hiding from Google; they have more
creative ways to identify you than anyone -- most without your
permission. Google's omnifarious applications harvest your name,
street address, personal profile, and a host of digital identifiers
including email addresses, IP addresses, wifi addresses, phone
numbers, voiceprints (via Google Voice commands), faceprints (via
Picasa pictures), your government ID numbers (Social Security,
passport, license), your financial information (bank accounts and
credit cards) and your medical records. Google is even investing in
fingerprinting and DNA identification technologies.

Your Location: Google tracks you 24-7-365 to better target you. Google
knows where you are, where you've been, and even where you plan to go
through a variety of applications including Search, Android, Maps,
Earth, Street View and Calendar.

Your Associations and Beliefs: Google profiles you to better target
you. Google knows more about whom you associate with and what you
believe than Facebook dreams of knowing. Through its 500 free products
and services and especially search, Google knows many of your contacts
and groups; Google knows your various categories of friends and
relatively how close you are to them; Google knows where and when you
gather and why; Google even knows your political and religious views
intimately because Google tracks what you search, read, watch and do
over a long period of time. Google has your heart in their digital
crosshairs.

Your intentions: Google tests and measures you like a lab rat to best
target you. Google knows your hopes, desires, fears, and
prejudices -- all of your hot buttons. John Battelle famously described
Google search as a "database of intentions." Given Google's
near-worldwide monopoly of search advertising, Google knows what you
like and don't like; what family, health or financial worries you
have; what you most want to do; and essentially everything you are
doing with your life, work and play.

What's wrong with being tracked by Google as a target? Consider that
Google's private information on users has already fallen into the
wrong hands -- for example, a rogue Google employee (like the one who
stalked a group of teenagers last year), a hacker (like the Chinese
hackers who stole Google's password system in 2009), a government spy
agency (like the National Security Agency that reportedly is working
with Google), or a law enforcement agency fishing for information
without a subpoena (Google Chairman Schmidt has said Google must
comply with such requests under the Patriot Act).

The virtual laser-dot target that Google has placed on your forehead
without your knowledge or permission puts you in real danger of
stalking, blackmail, theft, fraud, kidnapping, intimidation,
harassment or arrest. This is not the type or amount of private
information about citizens that should be collected, stored and
analyzed in a free country; this is the type of aggressive tracking
and profiling that only a Big Brother-like government would embrace.

In a free society, no one should be an unwitting tracking
target -- whether for Big Brother or Big Brother Inc.


Scott Cleland is the author of the new book, Search & Destroy: Why You
Can't Trust Google Inc. Visit www.SearchAndDestroyBook.com

Disclosure: Scott is president of Precursor LLC, a research
consultancy for Fortune 500 companies, including companies that
compete with Google.

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