Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A New Short Story Imagines Google as a Bad Big Brother - WSJ.com

More on "Scroogled" 

In science-fiction author Cory Doctorow's short story "Scroogled," a woman shrugs when she sees "Immigration--Powered by Google" on an airport sign, but that's just the beginning of the search giant's presence in a not-too-distant future.

Interview excerpt:

WSJ.com: Are there signs of that at Google? Are they doing something that concerns you?

Mr. Doctorow: Sure, absolutely, there have been lots of signs of that. I mean, one of the things that I think is in Google's DNA is a real tension about, on the one hand, being good to people, but on the other hand, acquiring as much information about them as they can, under the rubric that it allows them to be better to people.

And it does, a lot of the time. There are lots of ways in which Google knowing more about you makes Google better for you. But without much regard to what's happening in the world around us, in an era in which the national security apparatus has turned into a kind of lumbering, savage, giant toddler, it behooves us to not leave things within arm's reach that it might stick in its mouth. And that includes things like my search history. And I'd prefer that Google not be storing a lot of that stuff, especially today, especially after Patriot [Act] and so on. They're inviting abuse, I think, by doing that. The steps you don't save can't be subpoenaed. And by saving them, Google is inviting a subpoena.

So Google's always had this kind of "We will collect all your information, and it will belong to us, and you won't be able to take it away, but it's OK because we'll only do good things for you" attitude, and that's a bit of a problem.

A New Short Story Imagines Google as a Bad Big Brother - WSJ.com

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