Google, Privacy and Their Real Product

It is in Googles best interest to minimize an individual’s privacy. The objective of the company is to get enough information to serve you with ad-words tailored to your interests and demographic. This is allows the company to develop a method to segment a market to get the most bang out of an advertisers buck. For Google, the the product is not gmail, Android, Google Docs, Google Analytics or any other service they give away to sell for a nominal amount. The product Google produces is information about the people who use the various Google services.

What are you giving up when you use using Google services? The question was answered when they activated Google + and eventually making everyone use the service. To make Google + effective in gathering information on a typical Google user, Google started by banning pseudonyms and other methods of obscuring your identity. This was the method to ensure that they had real identities. When they tied search, mail, docs, YouTube, etc. to Google +, they now have a method to obtain an accurate picture of each user. By combing the pseudonyms once used for each Google service, Google now has a single user sign on tied to an identity of Google +.

Google services on Android track your location, sending the information back to Google. Combine this with Google scanning your email, documents on Google drive, YouTube posts and search queries for key words, you will see that they get a complete picture of where you go, what your interests are, income and other demographic information. Their apps on Android, IOS and the Chrome browser are reporting to Google HQ. The product is information, information about you! Privacy really screws this business model.

By redefining privacy, Google is doing its best to keep its business’s model off the politicians radar. They have not fully succeeded in Europe, but they seem to be getting some traction here. Most of the press does not pursue this angle about Google. An exception was when New York Time did a story in February 2014 on Google +, “The Plus in Google Plus? It’s Mostly for Google”. The tech press give the impression that Google can do no wrong.

Then there is Google’s chief internet evangelist, Vint Cerf, who is credited as one of the founders of the internet. He has been reported as saying; the industrial revolution and the growth of urban concentrations, created a sense of privacy, but that that privacy may actually be an anomaly. He went on to say; “In a town of 3,000 people there is no privacy. Everybody knows what everybody is doing,”. This is one of the most disingenuous statements concerning privacy. In a small town it may be true that everyone knows what everyone is doing, but they also know who is doing the asking and will also find out why they are asking. This is the check on outsiders trying to find out about an individual because the questioner becomes a subject of interest. Also, all information before, during and post the industrial revolution was on paper kept in the originating town or city. To do research before the Information Age and the ubiquity of databases on computers running the World Wide Web, you had to travel to the town or city that originated the documents. You also had to talk to people to get a sense of the person you were researching. This involved a lot of work and the work needed to assemble information on an individual afforded privacy. This obstacle to destroying privacy was not breached until all documents and vital statistics were stored electronically in easily accessible databases. This coupled with the rise of the World Wide Web connecting the databases removed the work it took to compile a profile of an individual.

The primary architect of developing the ability to catalogue and search the web efficiently was Google. To fund search, Google used user information gleaned from search activity to sell advertisements. The information gathered has evolved over time to what we have today. It is now not limited to Google. There is Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, all internet service providers, governments, etc. The end result is a complete depreciation of privacy, with large internet companies trying to convince their users that they need not be concerned about privacy because nothing was private to begin with.

The Morality of Dishonesty

I received this story in an email and in a perverse way the joke reveals some useful observations. The only changes were a few edits. The observations in italics are from the originator or a subsequent editor, whoever they may be.

Enjoy, this is amusing.

A few years ago robbers entered a bank in a small town. One of them shouted: “Don’t move! The money belongs to the bank. Your lives belong to you.”
Immediately, all the people in the bank lay on the floor quietly, without panic.

This is an example of how the correct wording of a sentence can make everyone change their view of the world.

One woman lay on the floor in a provocative manner. The robber approached her saying, “Ma’am, this is a robbery not a rape. Please behave accordingly.”

This is an example of how to behave professionally, and focus on the goal.

When the robbers were running from the bank, the youngest robber (who had a college degree) said to the oldest robber (who had barely finished elementary school): “Hey, maybe we should count how much we stole.”

The older man replied: “Don’t be stupid. It’s a lot of money so let’s wait for the news on TV to find out how much money was taken from the bank.”

This is an example of how life experience is more important than a degree.

After the robbery, the manager of the bank said to his accountant: “Let’s call the cops and tell them how much has been stolen.”

“Wait,” said the Accountant, “before we do that, let’s add the $800,000 we took for ourselves a few months ago and just say that it was stolen as part of today’s robbery.”

This is an example of taking advantage of an opportunity.

The following day it was reported in the news that the bank lost $3 million in the robbery. The robbers counted the money and found only $1 million, so they started to grumble.

“We risked our lives for $1 million, while the bank’s management embezzled $2 million and blamed the loss on the robbery? Maybe its better to learn how to work the system, instead of being a simple robber.”

This is an example of how knowledge can be more useful than power.

Moral: Give a person a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a person a bank, and he can rob everyone.

Banks, Shielded by Regulators, Senator Asks Why!

On Tuesday, fierce consumer advocate and needler of banks Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called out Wall Street regulators for their habit of giving tepid punishments to misbehaving banks, and asked the agencies to justify their policy of settling with the wrongdoers out of court.

Why are the punishments so light and no one is guilty? One Senator wants to know why. Looks like she is the only one. Click for The story, Mother Jones is the source.

The Catch to Using “Cloud” Services

This story from the Verge on the demise of Google Reader prompted this post.  Google has abandoned many of is services over the years as its business matures.

The Verge, Ellis Hamburger on March 19, 2013 01:30 pm wrote;

Google Reader is a lot more than an RSS client. It syncs news feeds between different apps, and makes sure you can always pick up right where you left off. It’s also simple and free, which means it drove most competitors out of the market long ago. Once Reader dies July 1st, we’ll be left with apps that don’t rely on its backend to sync your feeds — which isn’t very many apps. Various denizens of the internet and companies like Digg have volunteered to create new backends of their own, but for now, picking an RSS client you can trust means you’ll need one that doesn’t rely on Google Reader.

Why use the cloud to store your data? All the tech pundits are agog over cloud storage, getting your data on any device, stream your music, videos, etc., etc., etc.!

First catch; is the “cloud” available and ready for use with your connected device?  How many times have you heard that Google, Amazon and the other “cloud” services are down for some reason or another.

Second catch;  some businesses will only give customers the password to their free wi-fi.  Other businesses have free and open wi-fi with no restrictions. Free connections can be crowded, slow, unreliable and have security issues.  Doing business, use a VPN if you are going to sign into your corporate, banking or accounts that are not https enabled.

Third catch; choose your cloud company the same way you choose your bank.  Find a profitable, stable, trustworthy company that will be around for a long time.  There is no insurance when it comes to cloud storage and cloud based applications.  Many companies will abandon cloud services that are no longer profitable or no longer fit their business plan.

Fourth catch; If the service you use is free, it will eventually go away or become less functional to force free users to the paid version.  The companies providing the service have to make money to stay in business.

Choose wisely.  My personal preference is applications on my computing device with my files stored locally.  The backup is on the cloud.

NRA’s Daft Stand on Shootings

After the tragic school shooting in Connecticut, the NRA kept quiet for a few days. Then NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre asked the following questions in public.

“But what if the gunman, Adam Lanza, had been confronted by a trained security guard?
“Will you at least admit it’s possible that 26 innocent lives might have been spared?”
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,”

When this is taken to its logical conclusion, good guys with guns would have to be assigned to every place where there could be a mass shooting. How many armed good guys would be needed?

What fantasy world are they living in!

Stop Blaming George Bush –

Published September 6, 2012 in the Miami Herald

“Jeb Bush said President Obama needs to quit blaming his brother George W. Bush for his failed economic policies. But it was his brother who, in 2001, was handed a surplus and then took this country into two wars. And it was on his brother’s watch that the financial and housing crisis occurred

Do people really believe that a debt of this magnitude can be paid off in just a few years? For many years to come, future presidents will be right to blame Jeb Bush’s brother for our debt

Wilfredo Jimenez, Miami”

The letter is here, for as long as it lasts at this link: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/09/06/2988451/bush-brother-to-blame.html#storylink=cpy

The writer shows in very few words the effects of a politician’s selective amnesia and distortion of documented facts. The plain unvarnished truth is; George Bush and the Republican Party royally screwed the country for many years to come and Jeb Bush, George’s brother, wants us to forget it and stop blaming his brother. He cites Obama’s failed economic policies when the truth of the matter is, the failed policies were put in place by his brother and the Republican Party. They spent the surplus left by the Clinton Administration on frivolous policies, deregulated the financial sector to an extent where the house of cards constructed by the banks, mortgage companies and other financial institutions collapsed under the eight of the massive fraud that went on. The Obama administration has done damage control and is blocked from doing anything meaningful by the house.