Google goes too far again

Google's founders are fond of their corporate slogan, "Do nothing evil," but the lady doth protest too much, to borrow an old phrase.

I've written about Google's Gmail service, in which the company happily stores every email you have ever sent or received, mainly so they can snoop through your mail and figure out what ads to show you (e.g. correspond with a friend about an upcoming hiking trip, and you'll start seeing ads for outdoor gear).

Now Google has started storing all your search requests, for exactly the same reason--so they can build a profile on you and display more and better ads to you the next time you visit. Of course, they wrap this in a lot of blather about what a fine service it is--in case you want to go back and see what you searched for.

Uh huh. I've often thought, "Gee, I wish Google stored the phrase "camping equipment" so I could navigate through several Google pages plastered with ads to find that search phrase again instead of JUST TYPING IT OVER AGAIN."

The problem with these Google services is that you lose control of your own data. Once Google starts storing that stuff, it's really no longer yours, and it de facto becomes available to others--not just Google, but law enforcement, disgruntled employers and employees who may want to sue you, hackers, and of course, everyone at Google and by extension, every advertiser in the world.

These services are good for Google, but they aren't good for users. I can easily store a lifetime of mail on a $150 hard drive, so this argument that Google is doing something special for me is a weak one.

Amazon is the same way. I've never purchased anything from Amazon because they freely use your purchase information to build dossiers about what you buy that they share with advertisers. It's none of their business, and I believe both Google and Amazon are abusing the relationship they have with their customers.

I still get books cheaper and faster from my local independent bookstore, and I get better search results from Snap, which returns many fewer and more relevant hits than Google.

Knowledge Democracy: