As noted by Curran, showing a screen shot of his downloaded Google data, “This is my Google Drive, which includes files I explicitly deleted, including my resume, my monthly budget and all the code, files and websites I’ve ever made, and even my PGP private key, which I deleted, that I use to encrypt emails.”
If you’ve done it or researched it, Google and Facebook have a record of it
Like Facebook, Google allows you to download a copy of the data they have stored on you. Curran’s personal data cache from Google was 5.5GB big, equal to about 3 million word documents. Essentially, your Google account contains a detailed diary of everything you’ve ever done or planned to do, and where you were when you did it. To download your own Google cache, see Google’s Takeout page.13
How Is Your Personal Information Being Used?
Google has “your bookmarks, emails, contacts, your Google Drive files … your YouTube videos, the photos you’ve taken on your phone, the businesses you’ve bought from, the products you’ve bought through Google … data from your calendar, your Google Hangout sessions, your location history, the music you listen to, the Google books you’ve purchased, the Google groups you’re in, the websites you’ve created, the phones you’ve owned, the pages you’ve shared, how many steps you walk in a day,” Curran writes, noting his own data cache included:14
“… Every Google Ad I’ve ever viewed or clicked on, every app I’ve ever launched or used and when I did it, every website I’ve ever visited and what time I did it at, and every app I’ve ever installed or searched for.
They also have every image I’ve ever searched for and saved, every location I’ve ever searched for or clicked on, every news article I’ve ever searched for or read, and every single Google search I’ve made since 2009. And then finally, every YouTube video I’ve ever searched for or viewed, since 2008.
This information has millions of nefarious uses. You say you’re not a terrorist. Then how come you were Googling Isis? … Manage to gain access to someone’s Google account? Perfect, you have a chronological diary of everything that person has done for the last 10 years.”
Indeed, the 2013 article, “What Surveillance Valley Knows About You,”15 is an eye-opening read that may be well worth your time, describing just how grossly invasive this data collection and distribution is, and how dangerous it can be if you end up on certain lists. Unfortunately, many still fail to see the problem Google presents.
Its services are useful and practical, making life easier in many ways, and more fun in others. That’s the bait, and many have swallowed it hook, line and sinker, not giving any thought to the ultimate price paid for such conveniences, or simply underestimating the threat that all of this personal data collection poses. If you fall into this category, I ask you to give this issue some serious thought, because monopolies threaten our very way of life, and in more ways than one.
Employees Uneasy About Militarization of Google
Google’s data harvesting is particularly concerning in light of its military connections,16 and the fact the company has repeatedly been caught infringing on privacy rights and misrepresenting the type and amount of data it collects and shares on its users. Make no mistake about it: Capturing user data is Google’s primary business.17 The fact that it provides practical services while doing so only serves as a convenient distraction from the fact that privacy violations are taking place.
Earlier this month, more than 3,100 Google employees signed a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai, urging him not to go ahead with plans to provide AI technology to the Pentagon’s drone program, known as Project Maven. As reported by Fox News,18 “Google’s AI contribution could … improve the system’s ability [to] analyze video and potentially be used to identify targets and civilians.” The letter also urges Pichai to establish a corporate policy that disallows it from participating in “warfare technology.”
Email correspondence obtained via freedom of information act requests also reveal Google has maintained an intimate relationship with the National Security Agency (NSA) for a number of years. In 2014, Al Jazeera19 published correspondence between NSA director general Keith Alexander and Google executives Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt. At the time, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had gone public about the NSA’s ability to spy on civilians.
In a 60 Minutes special, NSA cyberdefense chief Debora Plunkett claimed the agency had thwarted a plot by the Chinese to capitalize on a technical vulnerability in the basic input/output system (BIOS) of computers sold to the U.S. System BIOS refers to the firmware that initializes hardware activation when you start up your computer, and provides runtime services for the operating system and various programs. Plunkett claimed the NSA worked with computer manufacturers to fix the vulnerability.
However, according to Al Jazeera, the NSA did “exactly what Plunkett accused a nation-state of doing during her interview,” namely inserting back doors into BIOS, thereby gaining access to the raw data of any given computer. According to a 2013 article by Spiegel Online, an internal NSA catalog reveals the agency in fact has back door access for a number of different end-user devices.20
The Making of an Orwellian State
Some experts believe the plan to combine Alphabet-Google’s data harvesting with a military 5G network is a very bad idea. “What could possibly go wrong with a nationalized, dual-use, military-civilian, secure 5G wireless network to centralize all military and civilian U.S. transportation traffic control and management with Alphabet-Google as the only commercial wireless ISP ‘financing/anchor tenant?’ Way too much,” Scott Cleland, former White House deputy coordinator for international communications and information policy, writes on his blog.21
“… National Security Council Staff apparently have a network vision for a secure 5G wireless network for the U.S. military, that is ultimately capable of C3I (command, control, communications, and intelligence) of the ‘total situational-awareness,’ necessary for the 21st century, ‘Internet of the Battlefield’ of integrated, autonomous warfare of vehicles, drones and robots …
Who could compete with a new government-sanctioned, Alphabet-Google, ‘information transportation superhighway’ monopoly? Who’s going to watch these watchers? And what are the incorruptible proposed checks and balances to prevent the near absolute power of a ‘Google-GoverNet’ from becoming a modern Orwellian Big Brother Inc.? …
Consumer networks are the primary security vulnerability for national security networks. Alphabet-Google has well-documented hostility to cybersecurity, privacy, and accountability to government. Comingling Google’s unmatched civilian surveillance database with military C3I artificial intelligence capabilities on the same network is a recipe for abuse of power … And Alphabet-Google warrants antitrust scrutiny and prosecution, not antitrust absolution.”
Protect Your Privacy by Avoiding Google and Facebook
Indeed, Alphabet, the rebranded parent company of Google and its many divisions, has turned into an octopus-like super entity with tentacles reaching into government, food production, health care, education, military applications and the creation of AIs that may run more or less independently. A key component of many of these enterprises is incredibly detailed personal usage data.
Ultimately, your user data and personal details can be used for everything from creating personalized advertising to AI-equipped robotic warfare applications. As noted in previous articles, Google’s involvement in education and health care also has far-reaching ramifications, and in these settings your personal data could potentially be used to influence not only your personal lifestyle decisions but also to shape society at large.
Today, being a conscious consumer includes making wise, informed decisions about technology, and two of the greatest personal data leaks in your life are Google and Facebook. Here’s a summary of action steps you can take right now, starting today, to protect your privacy. For more information, see Goopocalypse.com’s boycott Google page.
1.Sign the “Don’t be evil” petition aimed at Google, created by Citizens Against Monopoly
2.Avoid any and all Google products:
a.Stop using Google search engines. So far, one of the best alternatives I’ve found is DuckDuckGo22
What are you looking for?