Sunday, January 31, 2010

Is Google the new NSA?

Am I the only one worried about this?

I've been watching Hulu and keep seeing Google ads for Chrome.

Every time I turn around, I see ads for the Google Droid (cell phone).

Here's a question for you.. does anyone know how Google makes money? It's not the same as other phone manufacturers, or Apple, or netbook manufacturers. They make money by selling hardware and/or software, and take a cut from the cellular providers for every two year contract.

Google makes money by collecting and selling information. Of course they're going to make money on the device itself, and from a cut from the cellular providers, but their main source of revenue is from collecting information -YOUR information, and selling it to marketers, data miners, analysts, researchers, or anyone else who will pay.

Now we've all heard the stories of how much information NSA (and other SIGINT collection agencies in the world) collect, and how much they process but these agencies get what can be collected over the air. Google has a better source --the handset itself. Can you think of better way to understand individual user preferences, calling patterns, behaviors? I can't. It's the one electronic device that we use the most; we depend on to stay connected, and Google gets to see it all. Where exactly do all of those apps connect back to? How does the phone stay in touch with Google? How much information is being collected? Who uses this information? Try Googeling "Google versus NSA" and see how many results come back.

Now take this a step further.. Google, although being challenged by Microsoft's Bing owns the search market, is moving quickly with their 'Chrome' browser, owns the blog I'm publishing this on, owns YouTube (and all of it's subscribers), Google Earth, Mail, Wave, Google Voice, and endless apps that they collect information from, and now, Droid.

Silly, but I keep having visions of a movie from last summer "Eagle Eye" and the automated actions of a supercomputer who used information collected from all of these devices and software, analyzed it, and used it to control every movement Shia LeBouf and a second unwitting victim. In the movie they referred to this information as 'collective intelligence'.

The difference between Google and NSA? NSA has intelligence oversight. Google does not.

Am I the only one worried about this?