Fighting back against the internet giants – Google.

I wrote an article recently in which I called Google the evil empire of the internet. It’s a conglomerate which of course owns Google itself, Gmail, YouTube, Hangouts and the Android operating systems. Those are just the names you know but they also own other very influential behind the scenes companies like DoubleClick that the average surfer wouldn’t recognise.

It simply owns too much of the internet and is to all intents and purposes totally unregulated. Just like the monopolies and cartels which were rampant in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, it is now routinely abusing its position of market dominance not just to bully its customers, but to force its own political ideas on other parties.

You must think in google approved ways on the internet or you’ll get punished one way or another. Just ask the google software engineer James Damore whom they summarily fired for expressing non-approved ideas, or the conservative Liberty Caucus website whom they told to take down a non-approved article or google would completely cut their website ad revenue.

Those are neither new nor isolated incidents of its coercive and abusive practises.

They, like nearly all the other internet giants such as Facebook, listen to everything you do on the internet and record it in giant databases. Every click, every link, every email, every online chat, everything. That’s not a vague suspicion or onset paranoia, it’s a fact and you’d be surprised at what they know or more importantly can deduce about you after a few years of internet activity.

In 2006, AOL had an accidental release, which in reality meant they were hacked, of three months recorded search data from 700,000 of its users which was then put up online and it’s there to this day. You can still visit it and all you have to do is enter a search term to see the user IDs of anybody who searched using that term. Then you can click on one of those user IDs to see every search term that person had used in those three months.

Bear in mind, what you’re looking at if you followed that link is just bottom-tier basic information which had yet to be cross-referenced to that person’s other internet usage such as email which’d link names and a lot of other personal data to all those enigmatic IDs. When your fifteen year browser history is linked to other sources of information such as email or Facebook, and rest assured it is, they own your complete life story and its surroundings.

This is top-tier information on billions of individuals around the globe. It’s been collated, cross-referenced, refined, psycho-profiled, categorised, data-enriched and all of that done automatically from your interactions on the web with firms like google that make billions by making sure whatever you do is captured and recorded for analysis and incorporation into your individual computer file.

The internet is now nothing but a vast sprawling tape recorder and any idea of some sort of personal privacy on it is a nostalgic and touching notion, a distant receding image of childhood innocence in the rear view mirror of an automobile now hurling brakeless and out of control down a highway to hell over fully digitised stepping-stones to someone else’s idea of a digital Nirvana. It’s not mine.

This presents a number of serious threats both to an individual and to liberty in general, and some of those threats are right here and now, not star jumps away into some hypothetical future. What happens if all that data about you is lost in a hack? What happens if the government asks on the sly for all data held on you, akin to what the Obama administration did in the unmasking scandal? What happens if a totalitarian government demands lists of people whose politics it doesn’t approve of? What happens if that government was refused and decides to do a state-backed hack for it anyway?

In case you didn’t know it, governments are now the biggest hackers on the planet. As required, they hack you, me, each other, friendlies, enemies and anyone they can just on general principles. In the digital age, information is demonstrably power when you can do things like shutting down a nation’s whole electricity supply grid from a single computer on the other side of the planet.

That arms race started over a decade ago and the concepts of things like arms limitation or non-proliferation don’t exist in that theatre of war, which is raging all about you as you read this though you like most people might not be aware of it. Getting at your top-tier information from Google would present no problem to them.

If you were scared or at least concerned by the preceding reality bath, you’ve got commendable survival instincts. This is no digital Nirvana we’re heading into, it’s something well beyond an Orwellian dystopia we’re already half way towards and unless we dig in our heels and say enough is enough, that’s the sort of world we’ll bequeath to our children and grandchildren. We have to wrest control back from the abusers and monopolists of the digital age. The internet is the world’s thing, not the exclusive property of a malignant, controlling and spiteful corporation with its own agenda.

All they care about is money and power. What I find totally hypocritical about this wholesale agglomeration of everyone’s personal details is the way they spin what they’re doing as somehow being altruistic, noble and all for the greater good of humanity. What a load of bollocks, it’s all about the money and power. They’re no better than the nineteenth century robber barons of steel, coal and the railroad that I mentioned previously, and they share the same arrogance of their forebears.

In one important sense though, they’re actually worse, since their monopoly doesn’t end at the borders of a country, but extends around the whole world, and while it’s nominally a publicly quoted company in the service of Mammon, increasingly it’s using its monopoly position to heavily influence politics, both domestically and around the world by brute information management. All information going in is recorded, but what’s presented back is becoming more and more politically selective.

What’s more, any article appearing on the internet which is even remotely critical of Google soon gets pulled because they simply use their monopoly position to lean on the publisher and it disappears. It’s as if it never was.

They will eventually get broken up by government, but that’ll only happen when their compulsively intrusive and anti-democratic practices have so turned public sentiment against them, a populist government will feel free to intervene. That’s more than a few years down the line, but it’s going to happen in the end.

But what’s to be done in the meantime?

Let’s get the bad news out of the way up front – there’s absolutely nobody big out there trying to stop them. We’re it, I’m afraid. Just you, me and a few like-minded individuals.

There’s currently no organ of government, regulator (there isn’t one) or business that’s up for a fight with them. It’s not that those entities aren’t aware of the dangers of a company thinking they can play the kingmaker game and control free speech from behind the safety of a dominating position on the internet, but they either think they’re containable in the government’s case or a business war would be too damaging to the bottom line in the case of commerce.

That situation will change because from what glimpses we get from inside the Goolag Technopalago, it’s obvious it’s a fanatic’s safety zone. Fanatics are always undone in the long term by the same seed of self-destruction deeply embedded into that particular psyche; they simply don’t know when to stop. Enough is never enough, far enough is never too far and their intolerance knows no bounds, especially when dealing with people who simply will not give in to a big bully.

The princes of the internet have definitely got all the power at the moment but as opponents their grand weakness is that they’re still at heart techno nerds who live in a complete bubble of uncritical adulation. They will exercise their dominant position on the internet ruthlessly but completely oblivious of any understanding of the politics of perception. Every time they exercise that power openly, it’ll be to correct the thoughts of errant children, and publicising that is what’ll destroy their reputation in the end.

Those are their two fundamental weaknesses, the chinks in the giant’s armour that are waiting there to be exploited. Head on assaults are for fools.

As I said, there is only us up against an internet Goliath like Google which may seem like a futile endeavour, but I’ve been engaged in a seemingly hopeless endeavour like that before in the Climate Wars and seen the miracle of what can happen after a few years when a few determined holdouts against the big bully use their minds, their hearts, some resourcefulness, whatever’s at hand and never throw in the towel because there’s more at stake than poor little old you and your bruised feelings.

Your emotional understanding of the real nature of the conflict you’re getting into is important, but you’ve got to commit to a long bruising fight and be prepared to lean steadily into it for an indeterminate number of years. Initially, they’re simply invincible and going to have more big wins than a barely noticed nobody like you and you’re going to have a long line of bad days. Just suck it up and resolve to catch them a while down the line.

The strategic objective is to liberate the internet from the strangle hold of the evil empire. For an individual – that would be you on your ownsome – there would appear to be only two practical avenues of attack to move even a fraction of an inch towards achieving that objective.

The first is to bring the brand itself into disrepute, to the point where it is held in silent seething disdain or outright contempt. Articles like this in the free internet for as long as it lasts will inch towards that goal and also reporting on the Goolag’s excesses as they occur, but the problem is the new media live in such fear of Google, actual reporting of their excesses is a rare thing and usually done by people leaving the media business for good. That rings a few bells with any veteran of the climate wars.

Quite frankly, it’s up to Google to drive that axis of attack as obviously we can’t. Their arrogance can be relied on to inflict that self-inflicted wound again and again and we’ve only to report it for as long as any platform we might be lucky enough to have left such as this WordPress exists before we’re driven into the darknet where the Goolag has absolutely no influence.

I’m already tooled up on the under net to keep this fight going should they buy WordPress to simply shut down the opposition voices it hosts. That manoeuvre wouldn’t be a first for the Goolag.

The second is to attack their revenue stream, which means to pollute or deny the information flow to them. Going with the pollution thing, there are a lot of criminal scams going on about mucking around with the reality of or not of clicks on adverts provided by Google which have resulted in them having to refund advertisers when so many of those clicks have been found to be fraudulent. There’s a lot more interesting stuff going on there as everybody in the know knows. I should have said is cognisant of for the last word, but I’m a sucker for alliteration.

There’s very little I can point you towards which is not below the meniscus of the undernet unless you’re on an undernet browser, but this fragmentary reference flakey though it is should give you an idea of how some individuals well below the surface net are trying to take down Google by polluting its arterial revenue stream of clicks. It’s actively attacking Google and its jugular vein of income, but engaging in that activity or ones like that is your choice.

I’ve resolved never to use Google again if possible, but prefer to use StartPage as a search engine, which actually forwards your query to Google but conceals your IP address. In point of fact, they hold no IP addresses, so any subpoena served on them is a bit pointless.

If you’re of my vintage, my buccaneering voyage across those electronic oceans began as a young man towards that feared westward horizon from the chancy harbours of the lashups that were the DARPA network, ARPANET, JANET and the like, through the screeching modem bulletin board age when the genie first and forever escaped out of the bottle of government control, to the mad explosive growth of a primitive world-wide web lashed together with painfully agreed protocols and Tim’s first-cut HTML, which would go on to become the lingua franca needed to build a global community the likes of which the world has never ever seen before.

We sailed those dangerous oceans westward into terra incognita, prepared to drop off the edge of the approved digital world if that was to be our fate, but in the sure and steady belief it was us lashed to a mast like Odysseus who would rave to be released to go to the Siren’s song. We chose to measure and then take our own risks, no Granny Google would have stood in the way. Exactly that sort of bollocks was what we were rebelling against, fleeing from.

Without any resistance, we must not allow a smug coterie of petty-minded fanatics in California to dictate the freedoms of the new frontier nor the direction in which it should be permitted to grow, and be assured we’re still in the very foothills of what it will one day become. I can’t quite see what that’ll be, perhaps mankind plus, but I definitely know I’ve got no choice but to resist the clear and present evil of the stifling thing I see standing in front of me which is Google.

Like over-controlling parents who can’t distinguish between brutal dog training and having the courage to support, give some guidance to and then have some damn trust in all those years of loving and tending, their by now first reflex is to go straight to the whip and beating the disobedient child into submission while all the time lecturing them that it’s for their own good.

A broken and beaten child is a condemnation of how small their parents were and nothing more. All they’ve done is teach them how to take a beating whether emotional or physical, and in the aftermath and underneath the crust of all that beaten down compliance, there’ll be nothing but a seething and abiding hatred of you and all you stand for which will blight the rest of their lives.

Google’s wretched vision of what this baby should grow up to be is simply too small for me. They’re not fit to have control over any child.

©Pointman

Related articles by Pointman:

The Evil Empire of the Internet must be broken up.

A welcome to the dark side.

A Message in Two Parts.

Click for a list of other articles.

 

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Comments
18 Responses to “Fighting back against the internet giants – Google.”
  1. Blackswan says:

    Pointman,

    Non-techie folks like me really have no clue as to the enormity, and implications, of what we’re dealing with online. That’s why we appreciate information and advice from blokes like you.

    Some years ago, I was spooked when chatting with an online buddy on a Google chatroom when the nature of our text conversations triggered various ads to pop up onscreen. WTF?

    At the time I really had no idea such a thing was possible. We talked about our motor vehicles and local car sales ads instantly appeared; we commiserated on crooked lawyer experiences, and ads for ambulance-chasing law firms plagued us. What to do? Installing AdBloc was the answer, and it worked a treat.

    Recently a message from Google appeared on my screen seeking an explanation for why I had blocked their ads.

    Get stuffed Google!! I ignored them and haven’t been pestered since.

    Recently, on a road trip over 500 kilometres from home, a relative took some landscape pics on her phone. Within moments …Ping! Facebook displayed the pics she had just taken and asked if she wanted to post them on her FB page, letting all her contacts know about her holiday on the coast.

    Again I had no clue that, not only do Google track your personal movements by GPS on your phone and pinpoint your whereabouts, but they’ll actively pursue your use of their FB facility.

    My travelling companion saw nothing untoward in this phenomenon, thought it was nothing too alarming, and had no problem with this gross invasion of her personal privacy. She just accepted it as the “price” for using this amazing technology.

    Speaking to my contemporaries on the matter, they too see “nothing wrong” with this pervasive intrusion into their use of such facilities. It’s everyday consumers who unwittingly give Google their power and simply accept that such compromise is part and parcel of keeping in touch with family and friends. No big deal.

    Like the Climate Wars, it’s going to take a major education campaign to convince them otherwise.

    As Montag said in ‘Fahrenheit 451’ … “And one day he would look back upon the fool and know the fool. Even now he could feel the start of the long journey, the leave-taking, the going away from the self he had been.”

    We live in the hope that such an awakening will one day be possible.

    Like

  2. NZPete says:

    Brilliant article. Makes complete sense and echoes my feelings.

    Like

  3. NZPete says:

    I’ve just installed the Firefox extension of ‘adNauseum’:
    “AdNauseam is a browser extension designed to obfuscate browsing data and protect users from tracking by advertising networks. Like an ad-blocker, AdNauseam blocks malware and hides ads on the pages you visit. But AdNauseam does more, collecting each ad in its AdVault for you to interactively explore. AdNauseam can also be configured to automatically click each blocked ad in the background, polluting your data profile and frustrating the trackers who violate your privacy and facilitate bulk-surveillance agendas.”
    —————————–
    Thanks, Pointy, for the link (https://heartiste.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/4chan-vs-goolag/)…
    “EVERYBODY GET AdNauseam to f**k up google! Also use TrackMeNot so (((they))) getting f**ked up profiles from u.”
    —————————–
    Will also check out ‘TrackMeNot’.

    Like

  4. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:
    ~
    Pointman always has a point, and he seems to always make it so well.

    Like

  5. gallopingcamel says:

    You are awesome! You read my mind.

    For many years I loved Google and more recently Google Chrome. However, over the last couple of years I have noticed that it has become increasingly difficult to find links relating to skeptical opinions on global warming, energy policy, the Tea Party and much more.

    Nobody needs a search engine controlled by “Big Brother” so my default browser is now “StartPage”. Already I am feeling freer even though I know the StartPage search engine will be much inferior to Google. I will stick with “StartPage” knowing that over time they will improve.

    Like

  6. gallopingcamel says:

    It will take me a while to love the “StartPage” search engine. When I searched for “Sagan” I got Brendan Sagan (the cyclist) instead of Carl Sagan (the scientist).

    Like

  7. David Chappell says:

    I tried posting the link to this on Facebook and immediately got a message that my post had been removed as spam. Clicking on the support page link, the answer was, it violates the community standards. Well, well, well, whodathortit?

    Like

  8. auralay says:

    Thanks for a good post.
    I see you are still using WordPress – is there no good alternative?

    Like

    • Pointman says:

      If I’d a few bucks to hand, you’d be looking at an all singing, all dancing site with rotating tassels whirling around its tits site. If we’d some bacon, we could have bacon and eggs for breakfast, if someone could just scrounge up some eggs.

      Pointy

      Like

  9. The big question really is “who do you trust?”. If a particular search engine promises faithfully that it won’t track what you do, how can you tell if it’s actually doing what it says? Your browser will in any case tell the servers what your machine is, what your OS is, and what other applications are installed, what cookies you have accepted, and given the permutations and the geolocalisation then this identifies your unique machine anyway. If you write a browser that doesn’t give this information away, you’ll likely get data you can’t actually display.

    Windows 10 is supplied pre-hacked in order to tell Micro$oft (and anyone who has a hold over them such as many three-letter agencies) what you’re doing, and if required can transmit whatever data is available to the BIOS. I’m not really certain that Linux is free of such hacks, either, since System D is a big blob of code that has hooks into nearly all processes and is impenetrable as to how everything interacts.

    Getting around this pre-hacking really requires you to build your own OS and applications from source (including building the compilers etc.) and most of us really haven’t the time nor expertise to check all the source code for possible exploits. A few million lines of source takes a while to go through. Probably the best we can do is to run a small computer (say a Pi 3) on read-only media, so each boot is fresh and cookies are non-persistent. E.M.Smith (https://chiefio.wordpress.com/ ) has good tips on how to do this, and yes I’d trust his programs to be secure. He also has some articles on how to set up alternative networking system for when that SHTF moment arrives and we can’t safely use the WWW we’re used to.

    I can’t remember who said it, but it was said that if you’re not liberal when you’re young, you haven’t got a heart, but if you don’t become conservative when you’re old, then you haven’t a brain. My daughter and her friends (and a lot of others I know) are still very much in the liberal side, and see nothing wrong in positive discrimination or in destroying those old statues and history. The logical fallacy of fighting against discrimination by introducing an alternative discrimination escapes them. The biases that Google are applying seem like a Good Thing to them, too – the problem of groupthink and the lessons of 1984 are overlooked. When people are too frightened to point out that the emperor is naked then we’re heading to a situation like North Korea – and there may be few places that remain free of Googlethink.

    Robert Heinlein foresaw some of these dystopian problems, with Shipstone (supplying energy) gradually taking over all the corporations – different names, but with common control. These days, though, it’s not so much energy (there are enough competitors to supply us that they keep relatively honest, and we do have alternatives) as information that’s going to control everything, and there isn’t really much competition yet (and Google are buying up the competition, too). Memories are short these days, too, and history is malleable – all it takes is a determined editor on Wikipedia to change the popular conception of what happened last year, or some edits of historical weather data to “correct” them in order to prove that we’re in a climate catastrophe.

    All previous predictions of the end of the world, however, seem to have been mistaken. Hopefully we’ll muddle through the current crises, too.

    Like

  10. Pointman says:

    Massive Data Breach At Equifax: As Many As 143 Million Social Security Numbers Hacked

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-07/massive-data-breach-equifax-many-143-million-social-security-numbers-hacked

    A lot more than Social Security numbers was obtained. All the info is now on crash sale on underweb markets because the hack has been made public. If you find your credit card has been used to buy a Rolex in Pakistan, you’ll know who to sue.

    You simply can’t trust these Silicon Valley idiots with your data.

    Pointman

    Like

    • philjourdan says:

      You simply can’t trust these Silicon Valley idiots with your data.

      They are too busy being politically correct, and of course their clients suffer.

      Equifax is headed for a massive law suit.

      Like

  11. PaleoSapiens says:

    Viewed a couple of recently fired goolag engineer, James Damore, interviews. Seems there’s a very active minority of Simpering i’Jut Wimps creating black-lists and engaging in other nefarious activities. According to James these evil goblins fanatically believe they’re just simply doing the ‘right thing’ (Sound familiar in echoes from history?).

    Cost-benefit analysis, what would it take to identify these characters and expose them, and their supervisors, to full personal liability for their actions?

    Like

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