back to article Google and Obama: You’re too close for comfort

It’s five years since I compared Google to Halliburton, the defence contractor that received large contracts from the Bush Administration, and whose former boss was George W Bush's righthand-man Dick Cheney. Today that comparison looks horribly unfair – unfair to Halliburton. The Wall Street Journal has revealed America's …

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Big Brother

Absolutely

Google is a bigger threat than Halliburton, NSA, Microsoft, IBM, USSR, Red China etc ever were.

What's more rather than just big business, they threaten small business more and massively exploit the consumer.

Perhaps all their evil people tracking sites need to divested if they want to remain an advertiser. Including but not limited to:

Search

Earth

Maps

Google+

Gmail

YouTube

Google Groups.

Google APIs and other resources used by 3rd party sites

Their Cloud services.

Android

Google Play Store

One sign on for all is plain evil too.

Aldous Huxley, H.G. Wells, George Orwell, Harry Harrison, Philip K Dick, John Brunner , Robert Sheckley and others could not have dreamed of such a privacy stealing exploitive monster.

They are having their cake and eating it.

They are not a kind Tech Company. Tech is only a means to the end of making more money via adverts.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Absolutely

Tech is only a means to the end of making more money via adverts.

Goddam, what absolute bastards!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Absolutely

>>What's more rather than just big business, they threaten small business more and massively exploit the consumer.

It not just anti competitive behavior that hurts small and local businesses but the way Google pays tax also hurts local business since Google is a multinational that can shuffle profits around the world and pay almost no tax while a local company trying to compete has to pay the full business tax rate. This gives Google a huge advantage over any local companies and makes it much harder for local small companies to compete.

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Re: Absolutely

> Goddam, what absolute bastards!

I mostly agree but when the adverts are basically blood money - and those illegal pharmaceuticals fall right into that category - then it becomes less a case of business as usual and more a case of organized crime.

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cd

I Block Them

My website blocks their crawlers. I call them Hotlinker Helper. Bing and Yahoo and Yandex as well. Google "disappeared" me for a while in retaliation, but some of my tech articles are unique and popular so I get a few grudging referrals again now. They are linked elsewhere, and I don't care if no one pays attention to them on a given day. I'm not on adwords and have other enterprises, so they don't hurt me, just themselves, with a little less stolen content to parasitically display.

If we all did that they'd be dead, they don't produce anything themselves. Like many magnates, their whole imagination is bent upon manipulating others for profit.

Any techs want to do the world some good, make a search engine that works on the principle of Bittorrent, where popularity is based on useful interactions and there is no center to hold, by anyone. Leechers, seeders, and searchers unite.

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Re: I Block Them

I also try to block any site that interferes with my ability to open a page without that action being recorded by one or sometimes 100's of click-counters.

They are sneaky, however and employ some of the craftiest (like a fox) programmers. Things like "addthis.com" will inject tons of external monitors into your page. Hovering over a link for more than 0.2 seconds will record an "interest" in the content.

Google and fecalbook are well known for implanting images/JS/CSS into sites that won't function properly unless 3rd party resources are allowed.

Monetizing the eyeballs.

We need to get more regular joes to understand what is going on and how to prevent it - as much as possible.

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Re: I Block Them

So basically, no one can find you.

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Re: I Block Them

And what is wrong with that then?

Please explain to us all. I am sure that you will have a lot of readers interested in your reasoning.

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Re: I Block Them

Re: I Block Them

"So basically, no one can find you."

Wow! That will certainly show them! I bet Google and the rest of the world are just crying buckets!

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Wishful thinking department....

At some point Google will find a regulator who doesn’t roll over. And increasingly, people who want to look the gift horse of “free stuff” in the mouth.

To require a regulator who doesn't roll over will be almost impossible. Maybe there is one but their handlers (the legislatures who control the regulator) are too deep into the pockets of the big corporations and Google's pockets are very deep.

The only change that could be brought will be by the users/products of Google. I for a minute don't believe the "do not track" tick boxes work. There's just too much at stake. Even not using Google for search or anything is impossible as they "own" too many websites by placing their ads on them. "Do not track" and not using their services is a start. Adblock is another start (athough they don't block everything by rote of someone's wallet...)

It will take a massive uproar from the users/product/great unwashed for things to change. Google learned when they were an upstart how to manipulate and also how to prevent any new upstarts from moving them to the dustbin of history like AltaVista, WebCrawler, etc.

Yes, they are a problem. If Google suddenly disappeared from the universe tomorrow, would the Internet be broken? No, not really, but the floodgate would be open for another battle for the throne which would not end well for anyone except for the winner of that battle who would be the new Google.

What's the answer..? Go back to my first paragraph. Those who are elected to the various legislatures need to change as do election laws and finance laws. But they're not going to destroy their gravy train. Even term limits would be good but we've seen how than goes over as people in power want to stay in power.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wishful thinking department....

I for a minute don't believe the "do not track" tick boxes work

They do - they declare your interest in privacy and security services.

Oh, wait ...

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"Google’s world – at least in the short-term – is one where the individual has no privacy, and cannot control or own the stuff they use."

Sounds a lot like Apple's world, and Microsoft's world.

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Another Google apologist

Apple users don't fully control and therefore arguably don't own their iPhones, but they enjoy way better privacy than any Google user. By suggesting otherwise you're just sticking your head in the sand and trying to excuse Google's evil on the "but everyone else is doing it!" theory.

Point to where Apple is selling personal information. You can't, because they don't. Google spends a ton of money developing Search, Maps, Gmail, Android and everything else. Their income comes solely from targeting advertising - they make their money trading on the privacy of those who use their services.

Apple doesn't have to sell you out, they make bank when they sell you an "overpriced" iPhone. I put "overpriced" in quotes, because whether you feel you are paying too much depends on what price you put on your privacy. If you buy a Nexus for half the price of an iPhone and think you saved money, I guess you feel your privacy isn't worth much.

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds a lot like Apple's world, and Microsoft's world.

Actually, no. Even Microsoft's original focus was just to flog you stuff, and not flog bits of you. Now, of course, after a succession of failed products and services they will pretty much grab anything that they think will make them money - hardware because Apple has shown it can be done, and search and personal data because Google does it.

Unfortunately, being Microsoft they will probably screw up both.

Apple, meanwhile, is more interested in software because it creates a walled garden, but at least it's one with some credible benefits like a lesser risk of crapware (IMHO that's in iOS apps replaced with "adware that doesn't tell you it's adware until you install it", but still.

Android, however, comes from that company whose absolute core business is you and any detail they can beg, borrow, steal or subjugate about your life which (a) does not make for a very trustworthy platform (and please don't tell me it's Open Source because it's about as Open as Google is not evil), (b) explains some of the fairly shoddy permission models that were implemented.

This is not a better or worse comparison - it's simply looking at the provenance of the code and the motives behind it. All I'm waiting for is a Facebook phone - I am willing to bet plenty of people would go for it because privacy has followed the way of economics: it has been wilfully made so complex that the man in the street has no idea what is going on and who to turn to.

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LDS
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"Apple, meanwhile, is more interested in software "

Correction: Apple is interested in selling you very expensive hardware, and it has to ensure its software works only on that expensive hardware to be the differentiating factor to sell you such an hardware. Look at how Apple killed pro software like Aperture when it was clear now its consumer market is the biggest one.

Anyway you're right - Apple and MS are hardware/software companies and historically made money selling it. MS monopoly was on software and tools, and MS wanted to make money selling them. Google monopoly is about contents - and controlling contents is much more dangerous because you don't control what people use - you control what people think. That's why politicians are so tender with Google, and why a lot of people are unable to see while the Google monopoly (at least in the Western world) is much, much more dangerous than the MS one or the Apple walled garden.

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Big Brother

controlling contents is much more dangerous because you don't control what people use - you control what people think.

Have a bucket of upvotes for that one.

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The problem will continue as long as no one cares. It is difficult to find members of the public at either end of the political spectrum who are concerned enough about internet security and privacy to 1) take meaningful precautions themselves or 2) as voters, make this a campaign issue to be championed by either party.

As the article points out, hi-tech privacy invaders are seeing little opposition from the current administration. And people I know on the Right who go ballistic over government surveillance use their Facebook pages and (often-hacked) Google and Yahoo accounts to complain about it. Their attitude is that as long as their privacy is being invaded by private enterprise and not government, it's OK.

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Privacy is not the biggest problem

For the most part it's still possible to stay out of the Google identity web. I use a VPN and Google still doesn't have my name and telephone number. However the biggest problem is one which "people" will probably never understand, and that is the destructive effect that monopolies have on the future of (as the article puts it), "a richer and more diverse internet economy". Not even just the economy, but our personal freedom to use the web in our own creative ways.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Privacy is not the biggest problem

For the most part it's still possible to stay out of the Google identity web. I use a VPN and Google still doesn't have my name and telephone number.

Oh really? So you never hit websites with Google Analytics, a Google + button, and you never interface with other people who may have your details? Even if it feels like it, Google only has to comply with privacy laws as long as it asks you directly for your details. If it finds someone else who has your details in their address book, they will have it anyway - and no need to tell you about it.

That data grabbing network reaches deep.

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It isn't just Google's fault. ISPs have seen the money to be made by differentiating personal and business accounts. I remember a time when personal internet users would get multiple fixed IP addresses.

Then there is ADSL. Want to host your own email? Inbound will be fine. If you're out and about, IMAP to your home server will be like treacle. I want my fibre, doyahear Mr Abbot?

Back to the ISPs again... where's the IPv6 push? Why do I have a 10*MB* email storage limit and SMTP is blocked by default? Where are the cheap domain services that are required in order to not have a silly and ISP-specific email address? They seem to be doing everything to push customers away.

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What horror

Google let people find cheap medicine, opposed SOPA, supported network neutrality, told sites if they didn't want to show up in Google's search results they didn't have to. What jerks.

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LDS
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Re: What horror

Read the article correctly: Google made money helping selling fake medicines breaking the rules honest sellers have to follow, used SOPA to silence a state attorney, supported net neutrality only in ways useful to it, and ripped other sites contents menacing them to remove them from search where users would like to see them shown if they dared to complain.

Please remove your pink Google Glasses....

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PAW

amplify negative Google news

An alternative view, backed by leaked Sony email, is that MPAA and major Hollywood studios have directly funded some State Attorney Generals (esp Jim Hood) to investigate and disparage Google.

According to Techdirt.com, The Verge summarized a key email as:

May 8, 2014: Fabrizio to group. "We’ve had success to date in motivating the AGs; however as they approach the CID phase, the AGs will need greater levels of legal support." He outlines two options, ranging from $585,000 to $1.175 million, which includes legal support for AGs (through Jenner) and optional investigation and analysis of ("ammunition / evidence against") Goliath. Both options include at least $85,000 for communication (e.g. "Respond to / rebut Goliath's public advocacy, amplify negative Goliath news, [and] seed media stories based on investigation and AG actions.").

Fabrizio is MPAA's General Counsel. CID stands for civil investigative demand. Goliath is code for Google.

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Anonymous Coward

"There are actually many ways Google can create a richer and more diverse internet economy. But that would require Google to give up being a “big fish in a small pond”, and make the pond bigger."

It would also require Google to spend more dollars for less profit, so don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

Google is NOT your friend!

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Sorry, I don't get the sentiments

I use gmail google search, google groups, google+, google calendar for our non-profit. Guess how much I pay? Not one penny. I DO remember the AOL days and hundreds a month to hang out. Hrmmmm... which would I prefer to do? So, I willingly allow Google to crib some notes of my forays on the Net and in exchange get all of those services. Since I am not a double-naught spy, person of interest or an A-Lister, no worries. I do get a cackle out of boring them to death in exchange for all those services. And I fail to see what this has to do with President Obama. He'd be a fool NOT to invite them to the White House, for all of the people they hire at good wages and for the technological innovations they produce.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sorry, I don't get the sentiments

Of course. Feel safely part of the masses. Just don't come crying when your details end up where you really don't want them, for instance with criminals or identity thieves..

Please keep it complete, though, keep your Facebook and Twitter up to date too.

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Re: Sorry, I don't get the sentiments

And yet, you're here, signing in, leaving a comment detailing your views and thinking posting as AC will keep your information private. Why do you trust El Reg?

Aren't you concerned that someone will hack them and get YOUR personal information?

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The Mother of Cretins...

...as an Italian Serie A proprietor succinctly put it, "is forever pregnant", and since that's not going to change too soon, neither will the misbehaviour of the private and public Goliaths that take advantage of our idle naivety.....

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Stop

Re: Mississippi

I used to think that too, and then I followed the reporting on Ars Technica.

It turns out that yes, the MPAA did donate to Jim Hood's election campaign but only about $3000 - less than one hundredth of the total funds he raised. He's not owned by them and they don't do him any favours - his opponent, however, was a big "let's make copyright illegal!" guy so they weren't without motive.

Basically though, your conspiracy theory is a dud.

Seems to be very popular though. You'd almost think that it turned up every time someone searched for "Jim Hood" on a popular search engine...

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Interesting article that covers Google's power over competing companies and media, but what about Google's ability to influence voters? This is something Google itself boasts:

http://www.google.com/ads/elections/

As it comes to light that they are threatening to bury startups, what's stopping them from doing the same to political candidates that don't align with Google's interests?

For all the open source cred Google likes so much to portray, what Google should really be transparent about is how they are "organising the world’s information".

Information wants to be free - not "organised" inside some billion dollar company's black box to suit largely commercial and other unknown agendas.

This is something that should concern everyone and especially developers. Linux grew as a direct response to Microsoft's monopolist actions and snuffing software rivals but now Google is effectively "killing" *information*.

This is scarier as it impacts society itself, not just the tech world. For much stronger reasons we should be building - or supporting the creation - of a "Linux" of web search to benefit all mankind, open and free from commercial interests.

Who wants to step up?

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Meh

> Linux grew as a direct response to Microsoft's monopolist actions and snuffing software rivals but now Google is effectively "killing" *information*.

Really? And here was me thinking it grew because a lot of people - including me - had a desire to run UNIX-like environment on hardware that didn't cost ten years' salary.

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Re: doing the same to political candidates that don't align with Google's interests?

You haven't been paying attention. They already did that. At least twice at the US presidential level.

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Given the cost of medical care in USA, perhaps google saved lives

The article seems to picture google like some shady, all dominating and always watching Lord Sauron of Mordor like creature.

For Europeans, being covered by very generous social systems with medical and social care which they can afford, it may seem shocking to read "Google aided manufacturers of illegal medicines in their trade..."... how horrible they are to aid in selling substandard medicine to sick people for a few copper coins. The other side of these coins is that America differs for Europe, and it is known that the medical system is not available to people who do not have the money. So perhaps, by acting like they did, google saved lives of people who could purchase the cheaper meds instead of having nothing at all and stay ill.

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Re: Given the cost of medical care in USA, perhaps google saved lives

Sorry but your comment is both naive and dangerously wrong. Google sold ads to companies that it knew were selling dangerous product. This is not something that saved people's lives. Unless you count selling water as anabolic steroid as saving lives. There was a good story on Wired about a crook who sold such products and how many companies he set up to catch Google and how deep it went into the Google system. It was all about selling clicks, not saving lives. Good try though it made is sound a little bit better to blame another government system instead of corporate greed. Which is really ironic when you realize that it is corporate greed that keeps America from having a single payer medical system.

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Re: Haliburton?

Are war crimes worse than aiding and abetting the sale of fake and potentially lethal pharmaceuticals?

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