By Dr. Mercola
Google, by far one of the greatest monopolies that ever existed, poses a unique threat to anyone concerned about health, supplements, food and your ability to obtain truthful information about these and other issues. And, while not the sole threat to privacy, Google is definitely one of the greatest. Over time, Google has positioned itself in such a way that it’s become deeply embedded and involved in your day-to-day life.
It’s important to realize that Google catches every single thing you do online if you’re using a Google-based feature, and that the data is being used to build powerful personality profiles. As previously reported by Gawker:1
“Every word of every email sent through Gmail and every click made on a Chrome browser is watched by the company. ‘We don’t need you to type at all,’ [Google co-founder Eric] Schmidt once said. ‘We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.’”
How these profiles — with capabilities akin to mindreading — are ultimately put to use is anyone’s guess. The main purpose of this data collection is said to be for marketing purposes, allowing companies to target users with a known interest in certain activities or products. This is bad enough, but the profiles could just as easily be used for more nefarious and liberty-infringing purposes, and we’re already seeing some evidence that this is taking place.
Please also understand that they are the world’s greatest artificial intelligence (AI) company, having purchased Deep Mind for $400 billion several years ago. Deep Mind now employs over 700 AI researchers, the largest collection anywhere in the world.
They are responsible for defeating the human Go champion last year, which far exceeds the complexity of defeating a human chess champion. With this level of AI, it is not hard for them to sort through all your data with their deep learning algorithms and find patterns they can exploit.
The 2013 article, “What Surveillance Valley Knows About You,”2 is an eye-opening read that may be well worth your time, describing just how grossly invasive this data collection and distribution is, and how dangerous it can be if you end up on certain lists.
Google’s data harvesting is particularly concerning in light of its military connections,3 and the fact the company has repeatedly been caught infringing on privacy rights and misrepresenting the type and amount of data it collects and shares on its users. Make no mistake about it: Capturing user data is Google’s primary business.4 The fact that it provides practical services while doing so only serves as a convenient distraction from the fact that privacy violations are taking place.
Google Dominates in More Ways Than One
Google’s internet monopoly, which centers around personal information tracking and sharing, is just the beginning. The technology giant is also involved in:
• Childhood education, shrewdly developing brand loyalty and a future customer base among children through product placements in schools.5 Many schools no longer use books of any kind. All classwork is done on tablets or computers equipped with Google-based software such as Google Classroom, Google Docs and Gmail. As noted in a recent New York Times article:6
“In the space of just five years, Google has helped upend the sales methods companies use to place their products in classrooms. It has enlisted teachers and administrators to promote Google’s products … It has directly reached out to educators to test its products — effectively bypassing senior district officials. And it has outmaneuvered Apple and Microsoft with a powerful combination of low-cost laptops, called Chromebooks, and free classroom apps …
Today, more than half the nation’s primary- and secondary-school students — more than 30 million children — use Google education apps like Gmail and Docs … And Chromebooks, Google-powered laptops … are now a powerhouse in America’s schools. Today they account for more than half the mobile devices shipped to schools.”
Once the children are out of school, they’re encouraged to convert their school accounts to personal accounts — a move that allows Google to build incredibly powerful personality and marketing profiles of each individual from a very early age.
• Social engineering. Google is actively controlling the public narrative — also known as social engineering — by quietly censoring certain types of information. As just one example, Activist Post recently revealed how YouTube has been censoring Ron Paul, former congressman and 2011 Republican GOP presidential candidate, for promoting peace.7
As noted in the article, “[W]hat we are witnessing on YouTube and Facebook right now is a move to silence the peaceful opposition … [T]his crackdown is also coinciding with a massive push by the mainstream media to stoke divide among the people … to create an atmosphere so divided that people never look up at who’s controlling them.”
Google has also taken it upon itself to be an arbiter of “fake news,” censoring information according to its own criteria of what is true or false. Needless to say, this also makes it really easy for Google to censor information that isn’t in its own best interest.8
• Health care, with a focus on drug promotion. For example, Google recently partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and has launched a depression self-assessment quiz — a test that, not surprisingly, funnels querents toward a drug solution.9,10
• AI. Ultimately, the goal is to create self-learning AIs capable of imitating human thought processes. As noted on Google’s dedicated AI site,13 “Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful … solving problems for our users, our customers and the world … AI … [is] providing us with new ways of looking at old problems and helping transform how we work and live, and we think the biggest impact will come when everyone can access it.”
Meanwhile, Elon Musk is raising a “billion-dollar crusade” to prevent the AI apocalypse, calling for regulations on the technology “before it’s too late.” According to Musk, AIs are improving at a far greater pace than most people realize, and there’s really no telling what they might ultimately be used for.14 In the following video, Demis Hassabis, founder of Deep Mind, discusses some of the projects this now Google-owned AI corporation is involved in.
‘Don’t Be Evil’
In an ironic twist, Google has become the exact opposite of its initial catchphrase, “Don’t be evil.” When Google became Alphabet, it adopted a more comprehensive motto, which begins with doing “the right thing — follow the law, act honorably and treat each other with respect.”15 Yet, the company struggles mightily to live up to this new motto as well. Rarely does it seem to be able to distinguish right from wrong — at least as far as its users are concerned — and the company has repeatedly acted as if it’s above any law of the land.
Last year, Google was found guilty of violating European Union (EU) antitrust rules when it gave preference to its own shopping subsidiaries over competitors in its search results, and was fined $2.7 billion.
When the Open Markets team at New America — a think tank that has received more than $21 million from Google over the years — praised the EU’s decision and called on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice (DOJ) and state attorneys general to apply American monopoly law to Google’s business in the U.S., New America kicked the entire Open Markets team off the think tank.16
Zephyr Teachout, associate professor of law at Fordham University, writes in her Washington Post article, “Google Is Coming After Critics in Academia and Journalism. It’s Time to Stop Them:”’17
“The imperial overreach of Google in trying to shut down a group of five researchers proves the point that the initial release from Open Markets was trying to make: When companies get too much power, they become a threat to democratic free speech and to the liberty of citizens at large … Google is forming into a government of itself, and it seems incapable of even seeing its own overreach.”
Google is running such a clear monopoly, the fact that the U.S. has not nailed it on antitrust charges similar to those raised in the EU is a giant red flag that something’s just not right. As noted by Music Technology Policy18 last year, it appears Google has managed to circumvent U.S. law by installing one of its lawyers in the DOJ antitrust division. This is a classic example of why the revolving doors between government and industry cannot be taken lightly.
Why You Should Care About Monopolies Like Google
Unfortunately, many still fail to see the problem Google presents. Its services are useful and practical, making life easier in many ways, and more fun in others. That’s the bait, and many have swallowed it hook, line and sinker, not giving any thought to the ultimate price paid for such conveniences, or simply underestimating the threat that all of this personal data collection poses.
If you fall into this category, I ask you to give this issue some serious thought, because monopolies threaten our very way of life, and in more ways than one. As explained by business journalist and former director of Open Markets, Barry Lynn:19
“[M]onopolies are a threat to our democracy and to our basic liberties and to our communities. Monopolization, this concentration of wealth and power, is a threat to everything that is America … America today has a monopoly problem. We’re seeing basically a second wave of consolidation and monopolization because of the digital revolution …
The first issue is consumer protection and potential consumer harm. We created antitrust laws originally to protect our liberties, often as producers of stuff … My liberty to bring my wheat, my ideas, the product of my labor to market. That’s liberty.
The second purpose was to protect our democracy against huge concentrations of wealth and power. To protect our democratic institutions. And the third purpose [was] to protect your community. If I’m living out in Peoria, do I want the city of Peoria to be run by a couple corporations based on Wall Street, or do I want it to be run by the citizens of Peoria?”
How to Oust Google From Your Life
Alphabet, the rebranded parent company that houses Google and its various divisions, has turned into an octopus-like super entity with tentacles reaching into government, food production, health care, education, military applications and the creation of AIs that may run more or less independently.
A key component of many of these enterprises is data — your personal usage data; the tracking of every webpage you’ve ever visited and every single thought you’ve ever written on a Google-enabled device, along with geo tracking tracing your every move.
Ultimately, what can be done with that kind of information, besides personalized advertising? How might it be used in combination with military AI-equipped robots? How might it be used to influence your health care decisions? How might it be used to influence your lifestyle decisions? How might (or is) it used to shape politics and society at large?
Today, being a conscious consumer includes making wise, informed decisions about technology. Anyone who has spent even a small amount of time pondering the ramifications of Google’s ever-growing monopoly over our day-to-day lives is likely to shudder at the possibilities and agree that we cannot allow this to continue. This year, vow to clamp down one of the greatest personal data leaks in your life by boycotting all things Google. Here’s a summary of action steps you can take right now, starting today. For more information, see Goopocalypse.com’s boycott Google page.
Avoid any and all Google products:
Uninstall Google Chrome and use the Opera browser instead, available for all computers and mobile devices.21 From a security perspective, Opera is far superior to Chrome and offers a free VPN service (virtual private network) to further preserve your privacy
Stop using Google docs. Digital Trends has published an article suggesting a number of alternatives23
If you’re a high school student, do not convert the Google accounts you created as a student into personal accounts
Sources and References
- 1 Gawker October 6, 2015
- 2 Pando.com December 22, 2013
- 3 Boston Dynamics
- 4 Fast Company January 13, 2014
- 5 Google for Education
- 6 New York Times May 13, 2017
- 7 Activist Post August 28, 2017
- 8 Goopocalypse.com
- 9 Buzzfeed August 25, 2017
- 10 Daily Mail August 24, 2017
- 11 Jon Rappaport August 25, 2017
- 12 BBC News August 5, 2013
- 13 ai.google.com
- 14 Vanity Fair March 26, 2017
- 15 Geek.com October 5, 2015
- 16 New York Times August 30, 2017
- 17 Washington Post August 30, 2017
- 18 Music Technology Policy August 9, 2016
- 19 The Verge September 5, 2017
- 20 Fast Company, Inside DuckDuckGo
- 21 Opera Browser
- 22 ProtonMail
- 23 Digital Trends April 28, 2017