Why I Am Gleefully Terrified of Google

This week was the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and Google has found another way to
get involved in our lives. Yesterday, it was announced that they have formed the Open Automotive Alliance to help bring the Android Operating system into automobiles in 2014. It could be extremely helpful but at the same time aren’t you a little reluctant? Can you imagine getting the message .process.android.brakes has stopped while you are barreling down the highway at 70 MPH? Do we really want Google to know where we are every second of the day?

That’s the big trade off. We give Google access to our personal information, and they give us services. Gmail is free because we allow them to show adds at the top. Google Maps is free because we let them know our location. There is a certain amount of trust we have to put in a company that’s motto is “Do no Evil”, that they’ll do just that (thanks NSA). Google Glass could be a game changer and at the same time could be a privacy nightmare. Android Police and notorious leaker @evleaks recently reported that Google will soon be making a play into the world of smart thermostats. Where is this all heading?

If you look at it optimistically all this data collection is leading to better services. Android in cars would undoubtedly lead to a huge amount of travel data being collected and in turn giving us a much better Google maps. Google collecting information on home cooling/heat use could lead to a better grid and hypothetically lower energy prices (unlikely). It would lead to more efficient devices though Glass has the potential to see things quickly and respond to something urgent all while keeping your eyes on the person you are having a conversation with instead of burying your head in your phone.

Conversely, don’t people and companies know enough about us already? Between the constant social media posts and the forms you fill out basically to buy anything online, do we have a need for a company to know every little detail about us?  What if that information falls into the wrong hands or hands we don’t want it to cough*government*cough?

That’s why we as an online community need to be vigilant and fight bills like CISPA, SOPA, and PIPA.  It is also good to see that a conglomerate of tech companies are getting behind updating the Electronic Communication Privacy Act so that government agencies have a harder time going unchecked.

As long as the information is anonymous and is beneficial to everyone go ahead and do what you want with it Google.  Increasingly in these days though, we must remain aware and vigilant. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to opt out of something you don’t like that doesn’t seem right.  Just don’t sit back and do nothing.

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