Alas, Poor Google


I’ve kept pretty quiet about the whole data-theft-whistle-blowing-seeking-asylum-in-country-where-anti-government-journalists-just-get-shot mess so far for a number of reasons.
Firstly, I’m not entirely sure where I stand on it. I’m not too bothered about my own personal data – hell, I hand it out like candy anyway – but I accept that other people have justifiable concerns about theirs, and I don’t just mean cybercriminals, terrorists and people who oppose Monsanto.
Secondly, it’s pretty clear that it’s been used as a political football. It’s heartening that those who are furious about the treatment of Edward Snowden by his own country have by and large recognised that the country in which he has sought asylum isn’t exactly the most reasonable place to be if you want to stand up to the establishment. Let’s hope he doesn’t fancy standing as Mayor of Moscow, singing in a cathedral, or writing articles critical of the Kremlin, eh?

But the open letter from Google and the other tech giants attacking government for their stance on information is so brazen in its hypocrisy I can no longer bite my typing-fingers. I mean, sure, the NSA stole data from them, apparently. But if you look at how the Silicon-Vallerinas came by this data in the first place, you’ll find that perhaps they doth protest too much.
In the more obvious instances (Google, are you reading this?) (yes, and that’s before you’ve published it) they used their mapping vehicles to hack into home wifi networks. And when they were caught and forced to apologise and delete the illegally-gathered information, they went ever-so-umble and did absolutely nothing about it.

But for the most part, they have the data because “we, the people”, gave it to them. By which I mean we ticked a box when we signed up to their services, and once we’d done that, they owned us, liver, heart and soul.

This reminds me of another industry in which people signed up to something, and then found years later it didn’t suit them, and are now getting everything they gave away back again, plus apologies and penal damages and moral ground so high you could shoot Desmond Tutu from it and still be applauded.

That’s right. Finance.

Now, I’m not one to circulate ill-informed paranoid paragraphs about what Zuckerberg’s doing with your photos now he’s gone public, but when these guys, of all people, start crying about surveillance and universal rights and freedom in a letter that reads like it was written by a nine-year-old, you’ve got to say something. And in this case, it’s “you guys only had the data for the NSA to steal because you either stole it or acquired it through a process of miss-selling so obvious that if you were a bank or an insurer you’d be history by now”.

I’m not privy to the innermost secrets of these companies, but it looks to me like this is all about misdirection. They’ve been hammered, for years, for what they’re doing with our data. And now, finally, they can pretend they’re the good guys. With their left hand they point at the Government and all the nasty things it’s doing, while with their right hand they’re doing precisely the same nasty things themselves.

Don’t be fooled.


Here’s some other stuff:

Extracts from my novel here.
Poems and sketches here.
A selection of the best posts here.
Facebook page here.
And you can follow the novel on twitter @bankerstown


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