Are you ready for a fun and interesting exercise? Here are a few questions you can ask your gadget carrying friends, family members, or co-workers to see if they really understand what’s going on online.
First, ask them if they would mind if someone looked through all their email. Then, ask them if they would mind if someone tracked their whereabouts online; every search, every site visited, everything they read, and captured that information and sold it for profit.
You see where this is going, right?
They’re Doing What?
I asked those same questions to a few of my co-workers and friends (my family knows my position on this already) and their answers were not at all surprising. Each one responded much they same way. They wouldn’t approve of such pilfering of private information, and could not believe a company could legally profit from doing so.
Yet, that’s exactly what Google does and most people who use Gmail or search using Google or use Google maps don’t know they’re being tracked and information about them– whether specific or not– is being sliced and diced and sold to the highest bidder. They’re aghast when they find out.
Here’s another perspective. Ask family members, friends, or co-workers one more follow up question.
Who do you trust more? Google? Or, Apple?
The results of my own informal, non-scientific survey were just as surprising. About 25-percent said Apple. About 25-percent said Google (usually Android smartphone owners). Fully half said both companies could be trusted about the same.
Maybe that’s the result of Google’s brand name recognition and the playful Google and Android logos. Something that colorful and playful cannot be evil, right? Yet, when told what information Google can and does capture, and what they do with the information, and how much they profit, and how that effort compares with Apple’s efforts to maintain both privacy and security for every customer, the attitude shifts dramatically away from passive friendliness, to almost active hostility.
I think of Google much the way sci-fi buffs thought of HAL 9000 in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. On the surface, HAL appeared trustworthy, but the device was flawed and became evil to the point of murderous and had to be shut down. Most users don’t know that Google’s entire business model depends upon capturing their personal information and synthesizing the data into revenue and profit. Apple’s business model, for the most part, is to design, manufacture, and sell hardware; technology products which work well together and delight customers.
Try that informal survey yourself with family, friends, or co-workers, and you, too, might be surprised at the results.