A while ago I’ve entered Google Play in the mobile phone to check out the new apps and install some updates. When I was looking for something interesting, between the contents offered, there were some of those personal recommendations sections. And I find scaring that, actually, they fit exactly my interests. I’m not comfortable with the idea that Google knows me better than real people. So I’ve started to think…
Internet companies which asks the users to give some personal data in order to be able to use their services don’t give the user freedom to choose. They offer a unilateral contract, you take it or you can’t use their service. It’s the same that a work contract in a company: you accept their conditions or you’ll starve. But you’re not given the opportunity to negociate, to impose your own conditions. Is this freedom? I think the answer is pretty clear: no.
Today nobody can live without a mobile phone or without an email account. All users must accept the Internet companies conditions and share personal data with them. Most of people do it without think about it, they don’t realize the risks behind it.
But if they visited the Google adds section of their profiles, maybe they’d get a bit worry. There, based in the sites you’ve visited and other data collected about you, Google tells you your age, your gender and a top-ten of your interests. And how do they used all this information? Today, to show you ads of products which you may be interested in… but tomorrow?
Another social phenomenom that I don’t like much are social networks. Apart from the fact that most of the things that people publish there (with notable exceptions) are just poor attends to reaffirm themselves and feed their ego by showing off, there everyone can have a look through a window to someone else’s life, everyone can watch everyone and know where he’s been and what he likes or does. Apart from that, data collected in social networks and other Internet services can be used to make marketing researches, or something worst, like social engineering or data mining over population segments and get patrons.
Apart from all that, a lot of Internet companies let some countries security agencies to acces the information they have about their users and even read the messages they send. And, although security is something necessary, it seems to me that we’re changing privacity for security. And since privacity is the ability to choose what we want to hide or share about ourselves, it’s an expression of freedom. So we’re changing freedom for security. And doing this is exactly how totalitarian systems are built. Of course, by ‘totalitarian’ I’m not just referring to a dictatorship, for example. A system can be totalitarist in other ways just when it cuts individuals freedom or their ability to develope theirselves in the way they desire. Or they have a great control over individuals.
A big part of planet population data in hands of a few companies, unilateral contracts, people constantly watching and be watched by others, personal comunications being analyzed, security cameras everywhere, everything being registered… makes a person always wonder wether he’s being watched or not, what he has left of his privacity. This reminds me a lot about Orwell’s 1984. But here Google has turned into the Big Brother and one wonders when will be the day when we’ll be watched at our own home, just in the case someone ‘comits a crime’.