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[liberationtech] Flaming Google

Gregory Foster gfoster at
Fri May 31 07:28:20 PDT 2013

Please note the subject change, as the previous subject featured 
"Microsoft" - a notable reflection of the tides of history.

In short, what price will you pay for your privacy?

Google (like Facebook), makes the majority of its money by selling 
advertisements (I've heard on the order of 95% of Google's revenue is 
generated by AdWords).  Like everything else the Internet touches, 
advertising has been disrupted by the innovations introduced by 
companies like Google and Facebook.  In this case, the innovation is 
highly accurate micro-targeting of groups.  For example, on Facebook you 
can place an advertisement that targets only current employees of a 
particular organization - because individuals document their employment 
history on Facebook.

Disruption of the advertising industry has been enabled by the 
acquisition and compilation of information on individuals.  We, as 
individuals, voluntarily provide our personal information to these 
organizations in the process of using the tools and amusements they 
provide to us - crucially, at no direct financial cost to us.  The 
quantity and accuracy of aggregated personal data largely determines the 
amount of advertising revenue that can be generated.  Therefore these 
organizations are incentivized to collect more and more personal data.  
In some circumstances (but not all), these same organizations provide 
paid versions of their tools which provide privacy guarantees, such as 
Google Apps for Business which includes GMail.  It's worth noting there 
is no privacy protecting version of Facebook.

So this calculus is pretty simple.  If your privacy is worth something 
to you, what will you pay to keep it?  Trouble finding privacy 
protective substitute technologies?  Well, that's part of our answer.

Technology has a cost for the convenience it provides, and that cost is 
not just economic.  As McLuhan said, every technology is simultaneously 
an amplification *and an amputation*.  And lately, there's a lot of 
severed personal data being scooped up.


Gregory Foster || gfoster at
@gregoryfoster <>

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