You should read this article that will help explain the problem we face: Google is coming after critics in academia and journalism. It’s time to stop them. These are comments on this article which help explain the points made.
Google isn’t just wanting map and search monopolies. They’re trying to monopolize information itself. The dissemination of information. How people look things up, what results they get, why they look things up, and the actions they take after they do (e.g. buying a product). They collect massive amount of information on all of us whether we want them to or not. There’s no option for opting in or out. No checkboxes to authorize. No agreements to sign on what they can do with that information. If it was government doing this, we’d rebel against a tyrannical collection of information and psychological manipulation. Which leads to a second point: civil libertarians need to begin speaking out as forcefully against monopolists as they do against government. Sure, Rand Paul can filibuster about drones and NSA data collection, but you don’t hear a peep from him about private companies. Cato and other conservative and libertarian think tanks give corporations free reign because they’re not government entities. They’re wrong. We all need to see that freedom isn’t just about the ability to live without government coercion. It’s about the ability to live without any coercion, including from private entities. Increasingly, we’re being spied on, manipulated and have our very freedoms limited because private entities are intruding in on our lives, including our own employers. There has to be a point at which this is unacceptable, not as consumers or liberals or conservative, but as humans with inalienable rights that should not be taken by government or corporations.
Orwell wrote in 1984 that “NewSpeak” would actually make improper thinking impossible. This prevents dissent at its source. This is exactly what Google is doing. By controlling all search results, it becomes impossible to even see an idea Google disapproves of. Once Governments begin paying for this capability, it will become nigh impossible to even understand how people are being manipulated. You can have all the freedom you want, just as long as you are not free. I think that is Google’s real motto. Go nuts with cat searches, but whoa there son, what do you mean you want to research Congressman so and so’s business holdings?
To paraphrase Tim Cook, At Apple, our customers buy the product; to others (e.g. google) you are the product (e.g., the data they glean from your use of what they provide). As has been written about by others, we are at an early stage of beginning to understand what powers the internet has and how slow we are to really understand how they affect us. But this is clear enough: Google behaving this way needs to be called out into the open, and more of their activities need to be called out, too. And, consider boycotts. I have. I use no google products.
There are other, seemingly more “far-fetched” reasons for concern about these tech monopolies, too. I’ve been thinking about that since we began seeing news (not nearly enough of it, IMO) about US companies following in the footsteps of Sweden and microchipping their employees. Her dilemma: do I let my employer microchip me? So while many millennials are extremely gung-ho about getting their hands chipped by their employers as if they were pets, and are excited about the prospect of being able to wave their hand in front of a scanner to travel and buy things and access their medical information, I’m concerned about how the problem of tech monopolies will inevitably fit into all of this. Brick-and-mortar stores continue to be put out of business by Amazon, and Amazon continues moving into traditional markets by offering services like produce delivery and buying up grocery stores. Everyone has an iPhone now and eventually password entry will be phased out altogether as the fingerprint becomes mandatory, which will then be replaced by retina scanning which will supposedly debut in this year’s model. You have to wonder.. how long before the microchip becomes necessary to unlock your iPhone, use an ATM, board a plane, purchase anything, make a payment, access your email, obtain medical care, etc? How long before it’s a requirement for employment…everywhere? How long before newborns get them at the hospital? If just Google and Amazon alone implemented the technology and required it for their services, we’re talking about many millions of young people who would go along without hesitation.
I switched to Duck Duck Go after Google brazenly announced they were the sole arbiters of what is “hateful” and which ideas deserve or don’t deserve to be accessible on the internet. Yeah, no thank you.