Google didn’t help catch Breivik and that means we need less internet privacy?
By End the Lie
We all know that Google engages in massive invasions of privacy on a daily basis through their tracking of every search along with their ability to track a single user to almost every site they visit.
What do we have to show for it? Simply put: nothing.
Anders Breivik, the confessed killer behind the Oslo and Utoya attacks, allegedly spent a whopping 200 hours on Google searching bomb related terms like the painfully obvious “how to make a bomb.” How does one of the world’s largest corporations and unarguably the most powerful search engine company on earth manage to miss this?
According to Craig S. Wright, identified as an expert in computer forensics by The Conversation, search engines do not have a filter set up to flag people who search phrases related to bombs.
Wright claims that Google is too worried about the possibility of “privacy advocates screaming at it” to implement such a system.
Such a supposition is a bit absurd, given the fact that they collate and analyze every single word you type in to your Google e-mail along with every word received, plus every single search term you have ever typed into Google while signed in.
Furthermore, Google Analytics coupled with the Google AdWords/AdSense advertising program makes for a tracking system that can follow an individual around most of the web.
In addition, Google filed a patent on February 16, 2005 which was withheld from public release until July, 2010, for a System and method for Modulating Search Relevancy Using Pointer Activity Monitoring.
That is just a nice way of patenting a system that will be able to track literally all of your activity across every single website that has either Google Analytics or their ad service along with every search.
How would you feel knowing that every mouse movement you have made on many websites could be stored and saved for later use?
The German newspaper Der Spiegel published an article in 2008 detailing just a few of the ways Google monitors users. They also mention they do not use Google Analytics, like EndtheLie.com, because they do not want their users’ browsing data leaving their site.
Here are just a few of the ways Google tracks users as detailed in Der Spiegel,
Google gathers IP addresses, dates, and times for a 9-month span for a single user in order to determine what ads to display according to location, content of e-mails, and YouTube video watching habits.
Google stores, scans, and analyzes millions of e-mail messages via the Gmail system.
Through Google Health, users are able to upload their medical records to Google servers. However, Google Health will be discontinued after January 1st, 2012. Users will be allowed to download data they stored on Google Health through January 1st, 2013.
Through Google Maps for iPhones and the Android platform, Google can easily track a user’s whereabouts, hence the scandal earlier this year in which this was proven to be actively going on in both iPhones and Android phones.
Google also has detailed satellite imagery, images from their “Street View” fleet of cars fixed with wide-angle cameras, and of course we can’t forget the fact that Google never gets rid of this data.
The position pushed by Wright and others is nothing short of a lie. The fact is, Google collects, collates, and stores all of your data across every service and website possible.
Thilo Weichert, head of Schleswig-Holstein’s Independent State Agency for Data Protection based in Kiel, Germany, told Der Spiegel that his experts test every new offer from Google and “regularly diagnose aspects that conflict with Germany’s data protection laws.”
If only us Americans had a government who cared at all about the privacy of their citizens!
Breivik’s name had appeared on a Norwegian watchlist after his purchase of chemicals from a Polish seller.
Knowing this and how Google happily turns over data to the US government 94% of the time even though the American government files twice the demands of any other nation, why wouldn’t the Norwegian government just bang out a quick request to get more data on Breivik?
Interestingly, according to the latest Google Transparency Report, either Norway has not filed a single request for user data or they have been omitted for untold reasons.
However, Google does list that Norway filed less than 10 take down requests, although apparently Google complied in full or in part with 0% of their requests from July to December 2010.
Wright claims that “any real activist or ‘hacktivist’” would not be using Google to search illicit or questionable terms.
Therefore, he speculates that even if Google “did more in terms of monitoring search terms, and tracing those who make the searches” the people would actually be harder to catch.
He also claims that if Google started to do “all of this extra work monitoring and filtering search results” as it does already, it would create a crippling financial burden on the megalithic search engine.
To back this up, Wright claims that search terms such as “how to make a bomb” are not “all that uncommon.”
Wright thinks that it is likely we will see calls for changes how European countries protect their citizens from unnecessary and illegal intrusion into their private lives.
The head of the school of Information Technology at the University of Sydney, Sanja Chawla, claims that a Google terrorist alert system “could work but there will be lots of false positives and that can actually hurt Google more.”
This is because there is supposedly a low tolerance for errors when picking out terrorists. To anyone remotely familiar with the history of Guantanamo Bay and the persons interned there, this claims is absurd. Even senior Bush administration officials admitted that the majority of the first 742 prisoners were completely innocent.
Is anyone really ignorant enough to think that Google would hesitate to alert the United States if they detected suspicious terrorist-like activity in fear of implicating an innocent person? Neither the American government nor a corporation like Google care about falsely imprisoning and torturing someone and this has been proven.
Look at the case of Murat Kurnaz, an innocent man who was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay and the United States won’t even apologize for this wrongful internment.
Maybe the Norwegian government might be a bit more hesitant but I would not like to test out Google’s monitoring capabilities by spending 200 hours searching for details on bomb fabrication on my home computer here in the United States.
It looks like that despite all of the indications that Google is massively overstepping its legal bounds around the globe through tracking and data analysis, the media is now pushing for less online privacy.
According to the German news service Deutsche Welle, it was only days after the bombing when police and politicians across Europe called for increased monitoring of the internet.
German, Finnish, and Estonian politicians have been pushing for extensive online monitoring because they think it could help prevent future attacks.
A domestic policy spokesman for the German Conservative Christian Democrats, Hans-Peter Uhl claimed that “the Norway attacks proved that Germany needed to bring back its data retention laws.”
He told the German media that if police could track communications during the planning stage of attacks, people would be protected.
Finnish police officials have already revealed that they “have enhanced network intelligence” to YLE, a Finnish television station.
A member of the Brussels non-profit organization European Digital Rights told Deutsche Welle, “often policies would have been irrelevant to deal with the tragedy but it doesn’t matter – there is a ‘reassurance vacuum’ which has to be filled with something… anything, even something useless and counterproductive.”
That sounds like a perfect summation of how the PATRIOT Act was forced into law.
I sincerely hope that Europe does not fall victim to the absurd logic that has eroded the entirety of the United States’ Constitution and our Bill of Rights. It would be a sad day to see some of the last vestiges of internet freedom in Europe fall by the wayside like America did so many years ago.