Google and Privacy

We all know that Google is controversial. It’s one of those jokes we crack over the dinner table “hey, you know who knows everything about us? Google. Yeah, hahaha!” and then continue using it, because it’s so ingrained in our lives, whether in the form of a search engine or email or a tool for us to study, communicate or find our way around (think Google Drive, Google Hangouts and Google Maps). Google does everything, almost like Apple, and in its zeal to become like a nanny to all, giving us everything we need so that we never have to fend for ourselves, it sometimes runs a close risk of being overzealous.

So Google has recently been fined, yet again, this time by Italy, because its Street View cars (you know, the cars with cameras on top of them, capturing everything they see) are picking up people without their consent, and also communication data, by accident. The article I saw was interestingly keen on impressing upon us that all these fines levied on Google are but a small drop in its ocean of funds. Which isn’t false, of course, but they say it so explicitly. Google has now vowed to follow the instructions of the countries which fined it, such as by pasting stickers on its Street View cars letting people know what they’re doing, and informing their route ahead of time so that people can choose to avoid it. And of course, dutifully paying its fine of 1 million Euros — which as the article stresses, “pale into significance for a company of Google’s size”.

I would say that Google has good intentions, personally, and I would continue to support it because it really has made our lives much better, unchangeably so. However, at the same time, it also wouldn’t do to be completely oblivious to the opportunities that it has with the knowledge we inadvertently give to it. I trust that they wouldn’t use them to wreak global harm, but if the chance arises for them to turn our info over for certain lucrative, or even beneficial purposes (for our own good, say), I’m very sure it would not refuse. So, it’s just something to keep in mind.

Tech companies are the largest controllers of our lives in the 21st century. Look at Google, Apple, Microsoft, even Nintendo. The layman on the street is probably better-versed at tech jargon and news than, say, economics or politics, which goes to show how much tech has infused itself into our pop culture, perhaps even overshadowing entertainment and music. Because, yeah, a sizable number of people still don’t listen to music. Even youngsters.

Do you use every feature in Google, such as Street View? There are probably some lesser-known ones, such as Google Groups. And Google+ really hasn’t quite gotten off the ground, has it?

The link to the article is here: http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/04/google-street-view-fine/

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