Last light, Stone Steps © Robert Sommers 2023

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Race is on.

I posted a link the other day called evil google. I don't know if any of you checked it out or not. It is actually an AlterNet article by David Rosen titled The Terrifying Ways Google Is Destroying Your Privacy.

I know that I am somewhat old school at this point and you can call me a hopeless romantic but I am a big believer in all that privacy stuff. And the article is quite illustrative in the ways that human beings and their corporations are people too cousins manage to eventually sell their soul. Perhaps not entirely consciously.

Google is of course the perfect candidate for fallen angel in this narrative. They started out as the apostle of the hip generation's new paradigm of truth and righteousness. Their celebrated moniker was "Don't be evil." Have they gone over to the other side? Or is it ludicrous to expect any business to not be just as rotten and dirty as the next guy? Now he is wagging a puritanical finger in our collective face.

 "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." Google CEO Eric Schmidt, 2008

What a frightening statement. What are Schmidt, McNealy and Zuckerberg really telling us? That technology, especially really slick flashy technology, trumps personal privacy and the Bill of Rights? This is the modern day equivalent of "if you've got nothing to hide, what do you care if we paw through your underwear drawer?"

Of course, they are now working hand in hand with a government that vacuums up your whole information ball of wax and harvests it for who knows what? Every letter, every keystroke, every search request, all mined for some marker so that they can place you in some file labeled seditious in big stencil letters. A government that a few short years ago would never have dreamed of steaming your envelopes open to read your private mail without a warrant now has unlimited access to your every word and your physical GPS location as well. Oh, that's right, we're fighting a war on terror. Looks like terror won.


Abbie Hoffman was certainly never a large influence but I heard him say something once that I have appreciated for most of my life. He talked about how people manage to get co-opted. Maybe it's keeping up with the neighbors, possibly grabbing for the bagful of silver, maybe just a case of moral amnesia. But all of a sudden you find yourself batting for the other side and you don't remember how you got there.

I don't know Eric Schmidt. Google makes my life oh so much easier, gives me this sweet blogging platform, for nothing. They can't even advertise on it. I'm just not into it. They own real estate in every single strata of the information geological formation. Be more difficult to give up than coffee. So maybe I am sacrificing my own ethics by utilizing their services. Some of the photographers on my Fallbrook Shutters site want me to move the site off Google. They say that Google's fine print gives them the rights to reproduce all of their photography. I guess copyright is also now a thing of the past, joining its pal privacy.

Because I don't think that the whole world has a right to know my private business. Regardless of whatever Eric Schmidt thinks of my viewing habits, circle of friends or even my politics for that matter. Of course Eric is in the information business. He is going to want more outlets to sell information and more information to sell. To the police, to the advertisers, what have you.

Not much different than the timber barons, or the people that want to sell off Alaska and Utah, or mine right outside the national parks. Morality has a way of losing the contest with money, nine times out of ten. Bet on money every time. And people engaged in selfish, evil or otherwise despicable behavior have an innate capacity to suddenly see themselves as really doing god's work.

We have talked a lot about the legacy that we are leaving our heirs in this country, especially in regards to environmental devastation. Perhaps our surrender of our most basic civil liberties will be an even more tragic occurrence.


Anonymous said...

There you go again Robert - another of your damn libertarian rants. Next you'll say citizens are entitled to keep and bear arms or some other "seditious" opinion.


Blue Heron said...

I have a lot of libertarian leanings, just like I agree with the ACLU on some things, just not the right to privately discriminate. Long for a little civility and common sense. Believe in the right to keep and bear arms but not cannons, automatic weapons and grenade launchers.