Don’t ask, don’t tell: Have Google and Facebook provided the tools for world censorship?

Don’t ask, don’t tell: Have Google and Facebook provided the tools for world censorship?

The expression may have been around forever, but the tech cartel certainly gives it a new spin.

We know that Google tracks your movements (without your permission), like it or not. Last week, ZDNet reported that an API bug in Google+ exposed 500,000 users. Google admitted that it had suffered a security breach and hadn’t bothered to tell anyone because it wasn’t legally required to. Now the company is shutting down one time potential ‘Facebook killer’ Google Plus, and the wags certainly had a field day with the virtually ignored platform, reporting that G+ users were inconsolable – both of them.

Nothing to See Here

While Google reported that no mischief was done in the breach (and who doesn’t believe everything Google says), lest we forget, many people hold crypto currencies and as Jack Dossman says in his Medium post (A beginners guide to keeping your crypto safe), “Hackers can use your phone number, email address and other personal information like your date of birth, where you live and work, and who you have close relationships with to socially engineer their way into your accounts.”

And let’s not forget the Facebook hack, where hackers saw personal info of 14 million people. The exposed data included relationship status, birth date, hometown, education and the 15 most recent searches, Facebook said.

TIme to Watch the Watchers

While ZDNet explains Why it’s hard to believe anything Google says, Google CEO Tells Senators That Censored Chinese Search Engine Could Provide “Broad Benefits”. According to The Intercept, the made-for-China search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, is “blacklisting phrases like “human rights,” “student protest,” and “Nobel Prize.” Dragonfly “links people’s searches to their phone number, tracks their location, and then shares that data with a Chinese partner company.

Yet “In his letter to the senators,… (Google CEO Sundar) Pichai did not mention the word “censorship” or address human rights concerns. He told the senators that “providing access to information to people around the world is central to our mission,” and said he believed Google’s tools could “help to facilitate an exchange of information and learning.”

“Google has been open about our desire to increase our ability to serve users in China and other countries,” Pinchai wrote to the Congressmen, refusing to answer nine specific questions that the senators had submitted. “We are thoughtfully considering a variety of options for how to offer services in China in a way that is consistent with our mission.”

Which no longer seem to be ‘Don’t be evil.’

But wait! There’s more! Namely, ‘THE GOOD CENSOR’: Leaked Google Briefing Admits Abandonment of Free Speech for ‘Safety And Civility’. According to this piece, “The briefing argues that tech companies will have to censor their platforms if they want to ‘expand globally.’” Which implies that Dragonfly may well be the prototype for Google search globally in the none-too-distant future.

The plan is to roll it out in early 2019.

Unofficially, of course.

Duck Duck Go. Startpage. No need to live in a Google world, globally or locally.

So, not only was personal information on some 14 million members recently hacked in one of the worst breaches to hit Facebook, according to Bloomberg (and Facebook) “it affected 30 million people rather than about 50 million the company first reported Sept. 28. While the total number of accessed accounts was smaller than initially thought, the personal data taken from about half of the affected accounts was extensive…This sort of personal detail can help identity thieves accomplish hacks for years into the future.”

 

It was one thing when Google and Facebook were basic ad delivery platforms, but given the recent series of hacks (don’t tell), Facebook’s and Google’s penchant for tracking users without their permission (don’t ask), Google’s cozy relationship with China – and lest we forget, Facebook has been courting China for years – while you’ve been told time and again that you are the product, time to think long and hard about exactly to whom you are being sold, and at what cost.

 

Onward and forward.

 

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