On the one hand, I am a tin foil hat wearing, crypto loving privacy freak. On the other, Google’s products are just so damn useful. What’s a nerd to do?
There’s been a shit-storm lately about Google Buzz. See the problem with buzz was that it just showed up one day. Google didn’t ask “hey here’s this new thing you should try – wanna give it a go?” No, it just showed up uninvited on your doorstep with a rucksack, barged in and crashed on your couch.
Buzz is a social networking thingo, kind of like facebook you could say. In it you have “friends” and your “friends” can see who your other “friends” are. The problem with this was that Google automatically chose your “friends” for you, based on the people you email most often. So, hypothetically, your husband can now see that you are “friends” with that mystery man who you happen to be having an affair with. Needless to say this is a gross misuse of your private details.
Recently I tried to sign up for a new gmail account to use on various forums without attracting too much spam to my primary account. I was flabbergasted to find that Google now requires an SMS verification to be sent to your phone – so know they know your phone number too.
But god damn, Google’s stuff is indispensable. I always find myself pushing the privacy concerns to one side because I need those features. Recently I was seduced by the new Google nexus one phone, because it is so damn cool and useful. But because of that, they now have even more information about me. They have not only my contact’s email addresses, but their phone numbers too. They know where I am every time I use the maps and navigation features on my phone. They have my calendar of events, my to do task list, and of course my web search history.
Damn it I really want to keep using all this cool stuff Google makes. So I want them to not be evil. I need them to not be evil. That’s why their handling of the Google Buzz launch has me really worried.