Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Google are not big fans of anonymity

I have to admit I choked on my morning coffee when I read this eerie article on Google CEO Eric Schmidt's views on privacy and anonymity.

I mean, what the hell? Is this Schmidt guy some DDR era reject who fled to the US after the fall of the Berlin wall? His thoughts sure are very similar to those of the DDR regime.

"Privacy is incredibly important," Schmidt stated. "Privacy is not the same thing as anonymity. It's very important that Google and everyone else respects people's privacy. People have a right to privacy; it's natural; it's normal. It's the right way to do things. But if you are trying to commit a terrible, evil crime, it's not obvious that you should be able to do so with complete anonymity. There are no systems in our society which allow you to do that. Judges insist on unmasking who the perpetrator was. So absolute anonymity could lead to some very difficult decisions for our governments and our society as a whole."

And my favorite part:

According to ReadWriteWeb, Schmidt said of anti-social behavior, "The only way to manage this is true transparency and no anonymity. In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a [verified] name service for people. Governments will demand it."

In other words bye bye freedom of speech, hello self-censorship and thought control. And Google are not about to stand up for people's rights, it seems, which is really scary considering the amount of data this guys have collected on practically every Internet user in the world. Whatever happened to that "don't be evil" catchphrase?

I guess the first thing you could do to protect yourself against Google is installing the GoogleSharing Firefox plugin, which will prevent Google from tracking your searches and what websites you visit. And if you need to open a Google account I would seriously consider using some kind of anonymization software when logged on to that, so it can't be traced to your regular IP address. Of course you'll have to remember to always run the anonymization software whenever logging into the Google account. I'm no Internet security expert, but those seem like two good starting points.

Photo: Mikey G Ottawa

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