Google the Big Brother

This morning my mind was turning as I was reading the latest post by Jason Calacanis on his LAUNCH blog. It’s a very thought provoking and detailed piece on how Google is going to take over the world. I suggest reading it, but there was one item in particular that caught my attention:

Google will know every single piece of data you send and receive on a packet level because, hey, they’re throwing the party! If you want free connectivity on a global basis, you give up all your privacy and data. If you want to pay, you give up most of it to AT&T et. al.

While most of the arguments in the post are somewhat science fiction-esq – although I don’t doubt there veracity – the quote above almost seems like a certainty to me. Given the current state of the telecommunications market in the US it’s hard to imagine that any of the big telecomm providers would be able to compete with a “free” (or nearly free) service.

To compete they would need to improve their bandwidth offerings, bolster their infrastructure, and improve their customer service. To do that they would need to either drastically reduce their costs or find new revenue streams. None of that is likely to happen. They are currently the “fat cats” enjoying a near monopoly status and extracting value from that position. This consequently makes them very vulnerable to competition if one could get a foothold. Meanwhile, Google is doing just that as they are continuing to roll out internet services in a growing number of cities. At the same time they are expanding its market reach and revenues making them a likely formidable competitor.

This is not news, people have been predicting (hoping) for this for some years now but, if as Jason predicts, Google offers a free fiber-optic based internet provider service it is hard to imagine many people will opt to pay to stay with what they currently have. Even if the cost to the consumer is consenting to the utilization of their personal information. Cost savings and improved service trumps privacy for most people.

Back in the 1999 Scott McNealy famously stating that privacy is dead and we should all “Get over it.” So far he’s been mostly wrong. Sure, consumers willingly trade personal information for an ever increasing variety of services with little regard for privacy, but as evidenced by the strong worldwide reaction to the information learned through the “Great NSA Breach of 2013,” privacy is still a concern for many. Certainly though, when Google, that has so much of our information already, becomes the universal, free service providing our connection from our home to the outside world, a strong case could be made that privacy is truly dead.


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