Google, Privacy and the Government

As close to home as Henderson, Nevadans can feel Republicans closing in for their vote, but one issue that’s barely being discussed could be more relevant then voters realize. As the internet connects people in new ways from great distances, information storing quietly gives us new reason to take a hard look at our civil liberties on the internet. More specifically it’s personal privacy that is under attack in a country full of smart-phones with GPS and cameras on almost all public spaces.

Most people don’t realize that information from their own personal searches and web activity is basically collected for the purpose of creating demographic databases. This is especially the case when people don’t delete their own search history or properly manage their security settings. It’s already somewhat easy for a major third party website to find out whatever they like about people if they can study their internet search habits. Google has recently just changed their privacy policy to address this exact access hole on its various web territories.

Without delving into the very wordy details of what’s new about Google’s privacy policy, all people need to know is that searches done on YouTube, Google+, or other Google products are now kept in the same pile as searches done on Google itself. It’s a more streamlined way of combing through people’s searches and gathering various piles of data into one. They can now apply people’s personality and likes to all of their web services simultaneously. Google still insists it does not sell information to advertisers and offers various ways that people can protect themselves.

Microsoft criticized this move for the easing of constraints over private search information, but others disagree. Considering Google’s recent media influence in the battle against SOPA and PIPA, the government and Google now go hand in hand in the discussion of how all information will be controlled in the future. A showdown over these issues could very likely happen during the watch of the next Presidential Administration.

Other signs are indicating that a battle for information rights on the internet could be looming in our legislative future. Behind the guise of “privacy” and “cyber-security,” new bills are making their way around Washington all concerning the rights of ‘information sharing’.  It would be wise for the public to keep a close eye on all their rights concerning the internet because the speed of decisions made on the web happen much faster then those on Capitol Hill, people paying attention could make an impact both in the voting booth as well as on the web.

Mark Marino

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