If however, you are like most people, and you do draw a line between public and private information about yourself, then Google's innovative strategies combined with its overwhelming market share make it a privacy time bomb just waiting to explode. If Microsoft were behind Google, much of the world would be up in arms. Remember the outcry associated with Microsoft NT's supposed NSA Backdoor? No so with Google. Strangely, perhaps because Google actually works pretty well and isn't laced with bugs that allow viruses to damage your home computer, no one makes a fuss.
In the recent years the public has sometimes been shocked to learn about some of the side effects that our technological progress has brought. Organizations combining data from multiple databases (for 'marketing' purposes) and technologies such as license plate recognition (See: How IT Fixed London's Traffic Woes) make possible a 'technical utopia' that Big Brother could only have dreamed about.
This combined with the hightened fear of terrorism and the corresponding (over-)reaction by governments has led to a information gathering infrastructure that is unique in world history. In the post 9/11 world there has been increasing pressure from the American government on organizations and companies (from your local library to European airlines) to forward all types to information to 'the authorities'. Google is most likely just one more intelligence source, though in all probablilty a highly valuable one, in the war against terrorism.
Suspicions that Google has 'ties' with the NSA was published in Slashdot (See: Should You Fear Google?) in Febuary, 2003. After reading some of the comments associated with that article, one begins to wonder if Google is just the Internet arm of the Echelon project.
While each tentacle pulling at our privacy is relatively harmless by itself, the combined affect of the multiple attacks on our personal privacy is large and disturbing. Worse still, is that we have only ourselves blame. Our very own democratic governments encourage and protect the individuals and organizations that are attempting to implement these policies. And largely because of own our ignorance and apathy, we don't raise our voices against it.
It's like comparing the public's reaction to a UK government proposal to mandate that all citizens carry ID cards, which causes a massive outcry, vs. parents who want to install electronic ID chips in their own children, because of their fear of abductions. The end result desired by the parents is something that Big Brother could only dream about. and we have only ourselves to blame.
I guess the moral is that we should just be a bit more
aware of what we're doing, and a bit more willing to say
'no'. While the current western decomcratic governments
probably do 'have our best interests at heart', what
happens when some unsavory character sells or gives
to our enemies, or worse, through some terrible twist of fate
our government is no longer
democratic and turns against us?