A Week Without Google

This morning, I read a really disturbing interview in The Register with Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt on the topic of Internet privacy.  You can read it yourself, but the gist of it is that his stance — and by extension, Google’s stance — is that the only people who should be concerned about privacy on the Internet are people that are doing something they should be ashamed of:

If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

It’s the old “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you shouldn’t care” fallacy.  When Google was first created, they operated under a unifying standard of “Don’t Be Evil,” and I’ve kind of always trusted them.  Microsoft and other tech giants have never specifically operated under ethical credo like this, so I tended to give a little extra trust to an organization like Google that would go out of their way to say “we’re going to be socially responsible with your information.”

As a result of that, I’ve bought into their services in a deep, deep way.  There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t use many of their services: Search, Maps, News, Video, Bookmarking.  Google has a ton of information on me related my information consumption. And no, there’s nothing there that would bother me if people knew, but it’s still a staggering thought in light of Google’s flippant attitude toward my privacy.

So, beginning today, I’m going without Google for a week.  This includes Google Search, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Reader, YouTube, and all other Google-related services including their Chrome web browser.  I have a few caveats:

  • Work-related Google Docs. We do share a handful of spreadsheets and documents on Google Docs, and I can’t really ask my coworkers to take part in this experiement with me en masse
  • Work-related YouTube videos. A lot of the work we do at IJ to raise awareness of our cases is done through YouTube videos. This morning, for example, I helped out in uploading and annotating this video for our latest case for the Texas Eyebrow Threading case.
  • My personal email addresses. I host all of my domains’ email with Google Apps, and switching that somewhere else for just a week would involve an entire day of lost productivity.

Apart from these few things, I’m avoiding Google until next Monday.  I’ve blocked Google’s in my computer’s host file and changed my default search engines to Bing (on my desktop) and Yahoo (on my iPhone).  I’ll check back in next Monday to let you know how it goes.

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