From today’s Observer:
‘They have amassed more information about people in 10 years than all the governments of the world put together. They make the Stasi and the KGB look like the innocent old granny next door. This is of immense significance. If someone evil took them over, they could easily become Big Brother.’
The clue is in the article title, Google, 10 years in: big, friendly giant or a greedy Goliath?
Chester, however, is an outspoken critic on a crusade. He continues: ‘Google have been very hypocritical. They try to place a digital halo around their activities. They should be at the forefront of acknowledging that these are the most powerful marketing tools around and there should be safeguards in place. Google claims it’s there to provide information but it’s really there to collect data and provide advertising, and they simply can’t own up to it.’
[Google CEO] Schmidt raised eyebrows on a trip to London last year when he declared: ‘We cannot even answer the most basic questions about you because we don’t know enough about you. The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask questions such as “What shall I do tomorrow?” and “What job should I take?” This is the most important aspect of Google’s expansion.’
A month later, the human rights watchdog Privacy International ranked the company bottom in a major survey of how securely the leading internet companies handle their users’ personal information. Liberty, the civil liberties organisation, and the National Consumer Council have also expressed concern.
Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK
We have long-standing concerns about Google regarding the way it is betraying its own principles in going against established international norms around freedom of information. When you go on a Google search engine in London and look for a picture of Tiananmen Square, you get that iconic picture of a man standing in front of a tank. If you go to google.cn and do the same search you’ll get a picture of happy smiley tourists. Specific words such as Tibet, democracy, Tiananmen Square are heavily censored. We think that filtering process should be transparent. The rest of us who know that we’re using Google in an uncensored fashion have a duty to stand up for people who don’t have that access.