Sunday, December 18, 2005

Big Google is Watching

I was trying to ignore the articles in my inbox from my well meaning friends about internet censorship because-truth be told- I really do not want to wrap my brain around the implications of that right now. But as an admitted insomniac I seem to have plenty of sleepless down time lately to infuse my wakeful hours with the remnants of my nocturnal paranoia fest. I used to think that if I purged my angry brain, elusive sleep would tap the peaceful void... but its like an exponential eradication...the more I vent, the more bubbles to the surface, and so it goes.
So my mind goes to the blogosphere, this quiet corner, the good folks that rant and read and share like little bics at an Elton John concert during "Candle In The Wind" before it became "English Rose". Contrived smart-ass flickers- at times. But they are little boxes of conversation. Good,bad, stupid,profound.
What does this freedom mean to us? Anything?
To me, they represent yet another form of dissent. One whose days could be numbered like so many other things. One cannot help but think about the recent news about internet censorship without getting the creeps. Its nothing new in other countries, and tech saavy folks know that search engines are manipulated all the time. Simultaneous searches in different countries, after all, yeild different results. How long before anti-war or anti-administration search terms get puched downward, before the internet goes the way of MSM?
I heard a story on public radio about google. Maybe some of you caught it. Now google has no difficulty in admitting that it keeps and archives ALL transactions. Your searches, your emails, your deleted messages, your porn, your personal chatter. Now consider how fast and efficient searches have become, and consider an internet with a matrix of behavioral formulae and couple that concept with a near limitless capacity for storage and VOILA- big brother is watching. And recording, and archiving, and profiling. With no limit in sight on its use. No discussion about ethical dilemmas. No outrage.
Now it used to be that collecting data on citizens was too long and impractical to merit use of the time required and the energy. Paranoid radicals that believed that they were being monitored were accused of grandiosity. Who would track harmless hippies? But now that the machinery is in place, such tracking is effortless. And it has seeped into our culture slowly, on cat feet. And there is no need to be discerning with its use or stingy with its scope.
We are all used to supermarket cards and EZ Pass to get through tolls quickly, all tools that can track ordinary citizens. We are used to the erosion of our civil liberties and the forfeit of our privacy in the name of security. And now we hardly blink when we consider the meaning of google's position. How long before the search records attributed to your traceable ISP are fodder for the courts? Subject to subpoena? Subject to spying? How hard would it be to do a search in this massive google archive on redhaired crazy women that hate Santorum and buy soy chai?
This is bad, folks. This needs our notice.


Disgusted in St. Louis said...

Yes, it is bad. Really, really bad.

It is worse than you think if you're just concerned about Google tracking you.

The authorizations Bush gave were for tracking phone and email (and presumably other internet transactions). The ability to track ALL internet traffic through a particular route (connection between service provider roouters and the internet backbone) has been in place since the early 90s. The computing and search technology available to the NSA probably allows them to pick out any "interesting" data packets and pretty much all data going across the internet includes the IP (internet protocol) address of the sender. The unique nature of IP addresses makes it possible in many situations to track which computer — and by extension, which person — has sent a message or engaged in some other activity on the internet. There are some remote aliasing applications that can help protect you against this tracking in the case of Google, but not the NSA. I'm sure that any monitoring of data transmission that was done by the NSA under Bush's illegal authorization would have included the internet use of thousands of people.

So, the ridiculousness of the situation has forced me to strike back the most effective way I can at present...humor...presenting the George Bush Spy collection:
The Bush Scholastic Reader

I SPY starring George Bush

Spies Like Us (George and Dick)

George Bush Spy Cams

Lily said...

Dear Disgusted:
I in no way meant the post to be an exhaustive description of the terrible state of things, I realize that this is not a new scenario and that google is but one piece. My point about google is perhaps the arrogant way they proclaim their position as though petty spying is something to be proud of. I know the problem goes way deeper than google. Also of concern with google is the way results are displayed,a different problem than tracking. A person looking for news or information is not being led on a legitimate fact chase, they are being manipulated by propagandists. This has been true in other countries for some time, and is becoming increasingly common here. Its like we just accept it as a part of life and move on. Thanks for your great comments though. Lily
PS I will check out your sites, some levity never hurts. I only post here once in a while, CB does most of the decorating in this house. I'm just a squatter.

Lily said...

Disgusted- I see they are photobucket files, do you have a blog too? Funny!

Disgusted in St. Louis said...

I'm sorry I didn't mean to come off as being critical, I meant to share my own disgust over the latest Bush misadminstration revelations.

I share the concern with google display results and how they are determined, especially in regards to news headlines with ones that do not get listed and non-news organizations like getting listed.

Heh, yes I have a blog -- a tiny one, Disgusted in St. Louis. CB added a link to it a couple of months ago under the "Perspectives" heading. I can't explain my tendency to refrain posting links to it instead of photobucket when posting on other people's blogs.

Lily said...

Perhaps you are worried about plugging your efforts, don't be! I genuinely wanted to know. We support shameless self promotion around here. I found your link over there------>
You and I are on the same page, with this business. I hate being censored.

musafir said...

Yes, the monster is spreading its tentacles. Great search engine but, unfortunately, it is more than that. Used to think that IE was bad. Google leaves it in the dust. While there are other options I get the feeling that all of them are heading in the same direction. Google happens to be in the lead.