I've just finished watching The Money Programme episode titled 'The World According to Google.' I watched it online, as part of a trial the BBC is running, great idea (UK only I think). One of the topics covered was that Google log every search and service use to each IP address and store them. Google were awfully cagey when this was put to them, even though they insist it's not used for anything nasty. There was even mention that users need to be aware that their actions online could have repercussions. I like Google, I think they're a great company, but I'm wary of anyone knowing too much about what I do. I'm happy to believe Google isn't doing anything nasty with the info, but that's with Larry and Sergey in charge, what happens if/when someone else takes over?
This information is even more relevant when combined with an article I spotted on BBC Online about how Google have been requested to hand over information by the Department of Justice. While Microsoft and Yahoo have already aquiesced, Google it seems, is not backing down, citing user confidence amongst other things. The worry is that governments and law enforcement agencies will start demanding this information stating national security as the reason and something to hide behind. I'm prepared to sacrifice a little privacy for a more secure world, but I don't want to be arrested because a computer has popped up showing I've searched for some phrases that make me a potential threat. I'm taking things to an extreme here, but how long before they're using this kind of information to create profiles of people, highligting possible future threats, putting us in categories and combining it with all sorts of other information?
Along similar lines, I was pointed in the direction of an article by Tom Owad about how Amazon Wishlists could be used to try and find subversives, it goes to show that there are numerous sources of information stored about us that could, conceivably, be used against you in a very easy way. And people wonder why many people are concerned about proposals to introduce ID cards in the UK along with an associated database of personal information.