Don’t Be Evil
“Don’t be Evil”, a mantra of Google since the turn of the millennium.
The motto was first suggested either by Google employee Paul Buchheit at a meeting about corporate values that took place in early 2000 or in 2001 or, according to another account, by Google engineer Amit Patel in 1999. Buchheit, the creator of Gmail, said he “wanted something that, once you put it in there, would be hard to take out”, adding that the slogan was “also a bit of a jab at a lot of the other companies, especially our competitors, who at the time, in our opinion, were kind of exploiting the users to some extent”.
The last line is of particular irony when looking at it from the current year (2021, as of writing). It may have been true when Google was but a small company in the early 2000s, just getting a foothold and slowly revolutionising web search.
Since becoming the corporate behemoth that they are now, however, the reality is very different.
The ‘Evils’ of Google
- Google, by default, tracks your every location (Source)
- Google keeps records of everything you buy, even if you delete the email receipt (Source)
- Google Home devices eavesdrops on you (Source)
- Google also listens via your Android phone (Source)
- Monopolistic business practices
- Promoted it’s own Shopping comparison service that led to a record breaking EU fine (Source) See also: Google Litigations
- Abuse of dominance with the Android operating system (Source)
- Created ReCAPTCHA, arguably the worst and most inconvenient solution to blocking “bot” abuse ever created
- ReCAPTCHA is a privacy nightmare (Source)
- ReCAPTCHA becomes far more difficult to solve if anti-tracking add-ons/tools are present (Source)
- Since 2016, Google quietly dropped a ban on personally-identifiable info on their DoubleClick ad service and new users are automatically ‘opted in’ (Source)
- Cooperates with the NSA PRISM program to grant access to non-US citizens data without a warrant (Source)
- Google gets thousands upon thousands of requests (and rising each year) for user information from government agencies, with no less than a 60% compliance rate (Source)
- Note that while the above is not unusual for any online service beholden to local laws, this issue wouldn’t be such a problem if Google did not have the sheer amount of information and tracking capabilities of its users
- Used Google Street View cars to sniff WiFi networks and harvest data (Source)
- Massive tax avoidance (Source)
- Blacklisted the term “bisexual” until 2012 after backlash (Source)
- Nearly caused a war with incorrect Maps border placement (Source)
- And many more (and to come?)
What to Do?
Don’t use Google.
Okay, okay, we know this isn’t as simple as that. Many of us use, or have used, Google services to some degree. If you don’t, congratulations. See below for some resources on ejecting Google from your life and general privacy oriented information.
Please note this page information is non-exhaustive and still under construction