Google appears to have morphed from a corporation that proclaims, “Don’t be evil” to one insisting that users “Join the Borg.”
May 20, 2012 In 1999, Scott McNealy, the former head of Sun MicroSystems, reportedly declared, “You have zero privacy anyway….Get over it.” He unintentionally let the proverbial cat out of the bag of the digital age.
In 2009, McNealy’s assessment was confirmed by Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt. In an interview with NBC’s Mario Bartiromo, he proclaimed, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Schmidt’s words have become Google’s new mantra. Welcome to 21st-century corporate morality.
Now, a decade-plus later, McNealy’s prophetic words have take on a far more sinister significance than he probably intended. They are increasingly becoming the operating assumption of the digital corporate state. Whether going online, using a PC, smartphone, tablet or digital TV, users can no longer assume they have any privacy. In fact, users should assume they have absolutely no privacy.
Every time you enter a term into Google’s search engine, check out a video on YouTube, send or receive an email through Gmail (including key words in the message) or even make a call or download information on an Android-based phone, even using a third party’s phone from AT&T or Verizon, your input will be captured, stored and processed by Google. Google users can’t opt out of its data harvesting procedure; the company reports that the new procedure does not apply to Google Wallet, the Chrome browser and Google Books.
Google has been accused of hacking both Apple’s and Microsoft’s operating systems to further its data-capture practice. Jonathan Mayer, a Stanford researcher, discovered that Google could track a person’s usage of Apple’s Safari browser on an iPhone and an iPad, undercutting privacy settings. In addition, Microsoft engineers report finding that Google could bypass the privacy settings on its Internet Explorer browser. Google denies both accusations.