No Digital Tyrants

People easily trade comfort for security in the online world. They do not forgo obvious forms of security, such as SSL-protected shopping carts, and most do keep a wary eye out for brazen attempts to comprise their credit card information or social security number; when it comes to data privacy, however, the term sails over them like terns at the beach. I know people who are spiritually aware who do this; I know intelligent people who do this. Thus I have to admit that the seduction of comfort is a powerful one.

Specifically, any company that gives you a free service and then mines your data is not to be trusted with that data. Google is the principal architect of such privacy-violating schemes. Gmail is notorious and noxious in how it works — extract data from every email and then use the contents of your own email to sell you ads. Google’s street-level view, is equally as fell in its desire to make every address visually known to everyone, making life infinitely easier for stalkers and criminals. Google has come a long way from its “Don’t be Evil” days, and promotes all sorts of privacy and freedom-reducing (futurist) ideas, with self-driving cars yet another exemplar of the planned society, where freedom withers away and all citizens are subjects of the totalitarian technocratic state. It does not surprise me that Google then is mining data from children in its latest theft of privacy, Google Classroom.

Stop and think. If you decide that the comforts that Google provides are worth losing your privacy and security, would you choose the same for your children? I think there is a failure to see long term here. If your children become used to giving their private information to Google and become accustomed to being spied upon by strangers, do they lose some ineffable characteristic of humanity? If you lose the private self, you lose the man himself.

In this initiative, Google is acclimatizing children to not having any privacy when online, which means that those outside the online norm are subtly shaped back towards the norm with advertising choices; those who prefer things Google does not like will find no support and no encouragement in those activities (say, gun collecting or pregnancy resource centers). Google also has access to all the child’s grades and more perniciously, collects data on how a child learns. To think that advertisers would benefit from this and hit developing minds where they are weakest, or worse, that Google would use this data to track an individual and shape his worldview though whatever means they desire, perhaps by customizing an operating system (like say, Chrome)! With more data becomes more potential for abuse.

Why exactly does Google need all this data? Data collection is not a right, and Google has no inherent rights over anyone, least of all children. Pay to play is a sad fact for many up and coming bands, but here, free costs far more than money. Google is an exemplar of a barbed trap — once it digs in, it is more painful extricating yourself than allowing the fetters to remain. Imagine what children who are acclimatized to Google would think of leaving Google behind. It has been a part of their life, a part of their development, a part of their maturation, a familiar comfort, part of the world they know. In this, you can see the end goal of Google — to not only replace the school and teachers, but to supplant the home and parents. Do not worry, however. Google has not arrived just yet, but they are a technology company, and they will evolve. A possible future is one of always-connected, unthinking drones, driven by impulse, and shaped by a surreal world where online is the overlay that makes sense of offline; where people work for the good of the technocratic state, a high-tech apostasy that has limitless foot soldiers at its command, and where dissent is blasphemy is treason and is handled by the exception processing known as reeducation camps. You cannot escape. Google will always know where you are, because in the future, there will be no offline.

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