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Cory Doctorow's Fiction About An Evil Google 182

ahem writes "I saw a link on Valleywag to a story written by Cory Doctorow about what would happen if Google got in bed with the Dept. of Homeland Security. Chilling, well written, but the ending was a bit anti-climactic for my tastes."
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Cory Doctorow's Fiction About An Evil Google

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  • The ending (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plover ( 150551 ) * on Friday September 21, 2007 @12:25AM (#20692513) Homepage Journal
    Ahem wrote, "... the ending was a bit anti-climactic for my tastes."

    Could it really have ended any other way?

  • Fiction? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Leftist Troll ( 825839 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @12:28AM (#20692533)
    How do we even know Google isn't already in bed with the government? Under the PATRIOT act, they wouldn't be able to disclose it under certain circumstances.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MrNaz ( 730548 )
      Fiction [] eh? []
    • I thought that this was struck down by the courts? You're a bit late my friend.
    • Re:Fiction? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by davetd02 ( 212006 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @01:56AM (#20692987)
      Google is the #1 company that has been fighting AGAINST government intrusion into search.

      Google Rebuffs Government Subpoena [] -- Google went to court many times to stop the government from getting search queries. Yahoo and MSN gave the government what it wanted almost immediately.

      Think about it -- Google requires users' trust to create new services. You wouldn't use Google Mail if you knew Google would sell you up the river for nothing. Whatever new service comes next I'm sure the same thing will be true; their market is all about collecting data and interconnecting it, but you won't give them that data unless you trust them. They have every incentive in the world to fight the government on your behalf so that they can keep the trust of their users.
      • Re:Fiction? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @02:21AM (#20693099)
        Google requires users' trust to create new services.

        Really? Sure, they would lose you and me as their customer, but how about the "nothing to hide" crowd? Look around and realize that people simply don't value their privacy, at least their online privacy, to any kind of extent, or do you think our politicians would spew forth laws like the ones currently getting rushed through for warrantless online search and search pattern recognition if they thought people did care? If people cared, do you think this wouldn't be a topic in the election race?

        Fact is, most people do not care about their privacy. They spew their private information like candy. Offer them a chance to win a T-Shirt and they will give you whatever private information you want, even if you tell them you'll sell it to whoever wants it. Try it, you'll be amazed. We did. Out of 3000 possible participants, a few more than 2000 entered. I now have email, phone number, home address and name of more than 2000 people who wanted to win a ticket worth approximately 20 bucks. No, they didn't get a ticket for 20 each. They all have a chance to win ONE. And I could (if I wanted, but I won't) sell that info to whoever I please, there isn't any kind of agreement that would keep me from doing so.

        Now you know the value of privacy to your average person. Do you really think Google would get any kind of backlash from violating the privacy of its users?
        • by drx ( 123393 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @03:41AM (#20693497) Homepage

          So, people don't value their privacy?

          Look at the topmost comment on the first page of the story []! Some dude called

          Alberto S. Lopez
          Lawndale, CA
          Cell: 310.686.1259

          explains how he read this story on his iPhone!!!

          AhAh AHaAhHAh HAhaHAAHahAHaaa!!

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Wite_Noiz ( 887188 )
          The best example of this is the current trend to tell people your "porn name" - which is your first pet's name and your mother's maiden name...

          Couple this with the fact that people give out their email address and date of birth to anybody (see any social network), and you can have a great time with identity fraud. Weeeeeee!!!!
          • Couldn't you post that yesterday when I could've brought it to the attention of the VB conference? I think you identified a quite powerful social vector for ID theft.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          I may sound stupid here, but I think even if Google was passing info to the NSA or Homeland Security, I'd still use it. Fact is, it's still the best search engine out there. I may be against it in theory, but from a personal still gives me what I want.

          Me refusing to use it really doesn't give me, or the cause anything. And hey, it's not like the government will be interested looking at all my "nekked chicks" searches much.

          Once again, you may call me stupid, but that's just the way most peop
          • Fact is, it's still the best search engine out there. I may be against it in theory, but from a personal still gives me what I want.

            I'm guessing you're posting from outside China then, and assume you get uncensored results. How would we know if similar firewalls were in place everywhere? There is already the default-on 'SafeSearch' option which amounts to an opt-in great firewall. If changing a safesearch flag unlocks extra content, what other flags and hidden content are there? It is a fine line between giving you what you want and manipulating what you get, and seeing their response to invasive government demands regarding China doe

        • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @06:35AM (#20694211) Journal
          It's not as simple as, "Fact is, most people do not care about their privacy." The same people who spew "you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide" all over the place, would sue your arse into oblivion if you were a peeping tom under their window. Or would ostracize you very quickly if you gossipped to their enemies every word they said.

          Some time ago I was reading some anthropology books, to figure out how people work. (Since I'm naturally blind to body language or such, so not much chance to figure it out on my own.) One thing that stuck into my head was that there's a _massive_ disconnect between what people say about themselves -- even on a completely anonymous poll -- and what they actually do. What they say is an ideal self image, the self that they'd like to be, not the self that they actually are. And that ideal self has more to do with social acceptability than with anything else.


          - a community had this shiny-happy self-image that they help each other all the time, work their fields together, help each other build a house or a barn, etc. And they all answered just that on a poll. Turns out that in practice the last time anyone actually did that was half a century ago.

          - a tribal community had this self-image of being brave warriors and hunters, etc. And almost everyone defined themselves as a hunter on a poll. Turns out that in the meantime they were mainly agriculture-based, and most didn't even have a weapon to hunt or fight with. But they still thought of themselves as hunters and warriors.

          - on one occasion where meat prices rose, a western community was asked if they eat more or less meat. Almost everyone said some (more polite) version of "fuck that, I'm not paying that much. I'll buy less meat until the prices come down to something sane." Well, funny thing is, they then asked the local supermarkets and actually went through the thrash to see what people throw away. Turns out the meat consumption was actually higher. (I guess some kind of weblen effect.)


          Plus, even on anonymous polls you have to deal with effects like:

          - people trying to pick the answer they think would be more socially acceptable or would please the person polling them. E.g., if one choice has even vague negative conotations, or is phrased to sound that way, people will try to avoid it.

          - more people will answer "yes" than "no", presumably because we've all been educated that it's not nice to refuse too much. So professional polls actually switch the question around on half the forms, to average that effect out. E.g., if the question is "should we pull out of Iraq?" half the forms will actually ask the opposite, "should we continue the war in Iraq?" Otherwise you'll have the results skewed.

          Now this may sound like a case of "who the heck said anything about polls?" but bear with me. The same effects will be visible in day-to-day conversations, posts, etc. In fact, to a higher extent.

          Briefly, just because some people chest-thump that they have nothing to hide, doesn't mean that they actually don't. It just means that their ideal self image is like that, plus it makes them look better to their peers. It doesn't mean that they match their own ideal, though.

          And finally, note that this isn't necessarily "lying". Most people actually genuinely see themselves as better than they really are. It's really just a combination of selective confirmation (you'll remember the times you acted according to your principles, but forget those times when you did the opposite) and cognitive dissonance (rationalizing something so it fits the rest of your mental model. E.g., honest people don't lie, I'm a honest person, omg I just lied to someone for a petty personal advantage... therefore it wasn't really a lie, now that I think about it.)
          • Plus, if you had something to hide, the first thing you say is "I have nothing to hide," and the second thing is "but, I think you might want to talk to Joe over there."
          • So people lie, to others and themselves. That's a given. Ok, it's not lying, it's not telling the truth. Or rather, not giving testimony in accordance with reality. I think now we have a good definition.

            I tend to pride myself with having a self image that's in sync with reality. Why do people need to lie (not give testimony...) to themselves? To feel good about themselves? (groan)

            Honestly and bluntly, I don't care. Here's my point of view: Either stick with your spin or shut up. You have nothing to hide? Po
        • I now have email, phone number, home address and name of more than 2000 people

          Except for the email, I have all that too. Its called a phone-book. Most people won't think twice about this because its publicly available information.

        • Offer them a chance to win a T-Shirt and they will give you whatever private information you want, ... We did. Out of 3000 possible participants, a few more than 2000 entered.

          So, one third didn't value the prize you offered enough to make up bogus information, while two thirds wanted a chance at your prize so badly they gave you a throw-away email address.

          Seriously, did you try to validate that information? How many of the emails were, or the equivalent?

          As others pointed out, phone n

          • How many of the emails were, or the equivalent?

            None. There were a few freemail addresses, though, and about 2/3 of the addresses offered were addresses from local ISPs, in sync with the name (ISPs here usually give you mailaddresses in the style of, so they're most likely genuine. Most of the freemail addresses given were already in our database somewhere, known as genuine.

            Also, if you wanted to win, mailaddress and phone number had to be right, or we can't reach
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They have every incentive in the world to fight the government on your behalf so that they can keep the trust of their users.
        No, they have every incentive to appear to fight the government. Whether they actually fight is another matter entirely.
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )
        Google is the #1 company that has been fighting against 'FREE' government intrusion into search, personal group profiling, personal online gaming psychological behaviour and profiling, personal communication patterns and contacts, and now of course personal documents produced online. Google is a marketing company and spends it life putting a spin on everything especially itself, at a price of course and to generate a profit.

        Why shouldn't google be allowed to charge the government market rates for your pri

      • Re:Fiction? (Score:4, Funny)

        by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @08:33AM (#20694833)

        Google is the #1 company that has been fighting AGAINST government intrusion into search.
        Yeah, cuz they don't like the competition.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Floritard ( 1058660 )

        Google is the #1 company that has been fighting AGAINST government intrusion into search.
        Totally. Like, they should rename themselves the Ministry of Love, so we all know just how committed they are to human happiness.

        A wolf in sheep's clothing eats more...
      • by db32 ( 862117 )
        Aaaaaaahahahahahahahahahaaaahahaha.. Ok...So...Google is this vast happy protect the people group. Certainly explains the censorship issues in China right? As far as requires users' trust... "You wouldn't use Google Mail if you knew Google would sell you up the river for nothing." = "Google needs you to trust them and use Google Mail so they are the most profitable information salesmen to the powers that be, in order to acheive this they must convince their users that they actually aren't using their va
      • Google is the #1 company that has been fighting AGAINST government intrusion into search.

        How exactly do you know that? Because their marketing department told you so?

        How exactly do you know that they aren't otherwise working with the government? Because the media didn't tell you they are?

        Big business has always sided with the US government, because the US federal government exists primarily to serve the needs of big business. Why are you so sure that Google is somehow different?

      • "Google is the #1 company that has been fighting AGAINST government intrusion into search."

        Isn't that rather the point of Cory's story? back up a step or two, and put your mind toward other corporate entities that have not a shred of hesitation about getting in bed with government intrusion. Count the number of them that you certainly wouldn't want to see in this line of work. Now think about how difficult it is to put together search engines and data-mining operations, even if they're not quite as effici
      • by afabbro ( 33948 )
        Google is the #1 company that has been fighting AGAINST government intrusion into search.

        Which is why they refused to do business in China. Oh wait...

      • Google is the #1 company that has been fighting AGAINST government intrusion into search.
        That's just what they want you to think!

        To you it may be a tired joke, to others, it's a way of life.
    • Really and what section of the US PATRIOT Act would that be?
      • Re:Fiction? (Score:5, Informative)

        by ta bu shi da yu ( 687699 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @03:33AM (#20693453) Homepage
        Section 505, "Miscellaneous national security authorities." Allows for National Security Letters that bypass judicial review. Struck down on April 9th, 2004 by Doe v. Ashcroft. Reauthorized legislation later struck down on September 6th, 2007, by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by will_die ( 586523 )
          Except in this case he is saying that Google was "in bed", which by slang definition would mean they are cooporating under no legal requirement, so law has no effect. Google is able to sell, or give away, any of the information they collect.
          As for a legal requirement that Google provide information the US patriot act would not had much of an effect compared to the laws in effect before it was passed. The US PATRIOT act made it easier to get a NSL, by bypassing a judicial requirement, and added terrorism
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Actually, not true. The 4th Amendment holds "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

            That's why NSLs were struck down - any legislation that allows for searches and seizures that bypasses judicial review is unconstituti
    • by thsths ( 31372 )
      > How do we even know Google isn't already in bed with the government?

      Absolutely. After all, it is not really up to Google. If the government calls, they have to answer. And a fake answer along the lines of "sorry, our search technology is not up to this questions" does not sound very plausible, hm?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by aguenter ( 1060008 )
        Back when AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth agreed to help the NSA in its little wiretapping scheme, Qwest declined to compromise its customers' privacy. Private entities have zero obligation to assist the government in these kinds of matters, unless there are legal grounds.
  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @12:31AM (#20692543) Journal
    "....if Google got in bed with the Dept. of Homeland Security."

    The resulting offspring would spend all their time searching themselves for terrorists.
  • imagine a ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2007 @12:31AM (#20692545)
    Imagine if AT&T got in bed with the NSA

    Or if Exxon Mobile influenced energy policy

    Or if Pfizer wrote Medicaid Drug Rules

    Or if draft dodgers led the US Military

    Or if a Horse Commissioner was in charge of FEMA

    Oh look OJ Simpson is robbing Brittney Spears Stomach Fat I got to go
  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @12:32AM (#20692559) Homepage
    what would happen if Google got in bed with the Dept. of Homeland Security.

    Well, DHS loves performing cavity searches, and Google's the best search engine out there right now. You do the math.

    • Man, making a face: "Good God Bob, was that your stomach?" Bob: "Yeah, I got Googled all morning." Man:"Do you want to go home and lie down?" Bob:"No, I might as well just get it out the Yahoo here."
  • Chilling? Maybe if your name is Daniel Brandt, but back here in the real world this stays most definitely in the real of fiction.
  • Google vs NSA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @12:42AM (#20692619) Journal
    You know, the NSA is much more established the google. They knew about the insecurity of DES encryption for DECADES before anyone else did. They even convinced IBM to keep quiet about it when they found out. I'm quite sure anything Google could do they are already doing in some cases ( albeit to non US citizens, except when directed to by the executive branch).
    • Re:Google vs NSA (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hobo sapiens ( 893427 ) <ELIOT minus poet> on Friday September 21, 2007 @01:33AM (#20692871) Journal
      DES was 56 bit encryption, and it has been speculated by some that the NSA was capable of brute-forcing that back in the 70's. It's probably a safe bet that the NSA is ahead of the game. They are probably reading this right now, or at least, they would be if they gave a crap about me.

      I think the one thing the NSA doesn't have is all of the data that Google has (or maybe they do? ok, the tinfoil hat is off now). If Google gave up their data, the NSA would have more than a bunch of search queries. Think of the queries themselves. Those might cough up a lot of insight into how people think.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by e-scetic ( 1003976 ) *

        Actually, if I were the NSA/FBI/CIA/DIA/etc. I'd be VERY interested in the Slashdot community - and this means you.

        This community is very technical, they know how to do things like make bombs, viruses, trojans, pirate software, steal identities, etc. They know how to do research. And they tend to be anti-government, pro-privacy. The way things are going now you're probably a suspected terrorist or "person of interest' just by being here.

      • by tygt ( 792974 )
        When google was new, no ads supporting it, totally clean page and all, for years, my friends and I suspected that they were an NSA front, or at least funded indirectly by the NSA.....
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by chazwurth ( 664949 )
      Or, it's possible that Google has an edge on the NSA in some areas. The NSA has a lot of talented people. Google has a lot of talented people. The people at the two organizations aren't all working on the same problems with the same amount of focus. So we don't actually know.

      Personally, I take the point of the story to be that the federal government could, in the right legal climate, use private industry to do a lot of dirty work, which is why it isn't safe for us to allow Google to acquire all of our infor
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by vonkug ( 1159761 )
      ASSUMING that they're not already forking over their massive quantities of aggregate data to the Feds...

      In line with the "do no evil" mentality, I'm curious if Google has any kind of Order 66 for their data servers, something to eliminate / "lose" the data in the event of an attempted takeover. That would be one hell of an interesting internal document. Because an organization of this kind, of this supposed benign attitude, must possess something of the sort.

    • DES (Score:3, Informative)

      The NSA changed the S-boxes without explaining why. When the white world re-invented differential cryptanalysis, it turned out that the NSA had strengthened DES with the changes.

      The only realistic weakness in DES was the short key length, which the whole world knew about. To this day, triple DES is an accepted if slow cipher.
      • Re:DES (Score:4, Informative)

        by rjh ( 40933 ) <> on Friday September 21, 2007 @08:41AM (#20694903)
        According to the IBM design team, this is not so: while the NSA made technical suggestions, not one wire in the S-boxes was dictated by the NSA.

        Other people have noticed that the "technical suggestions" involved the NSA sending back DES hardware with rewired S-boxes, and assumed the IBM DES crew simply used the NSA's new S-boxes without understanding what was going on. Quite the opposite: the IBM team refused to use anything they didn't understand, and thus independently discovered differential cryptanalysis by reverse-engineering the NSA's changed S-boxes.

        Once they understood differential cryptanalysis, they came up with their own S-boxes.
    • by rjh ( 40933 ) <> on Friday September 21, 2007 @08:37AM (#20694871)
      I am a grad student in computer science. I have had to (try to) cryptanalyze DES before. It was the torment of the damned. My remarks here are based on that experience. I daresay it's a lot more than you've ever done with it.

      DES is not now, nor has it ever been, a weak design except in the very narrow sense of it having only a 56-bit keyspace. During the time it was created, 56 bits of keyspace was really quite good. Nobody was expecting it to remain a government standard for the next 20+ years. When the only way to attack an encryption algorithm is to exhaust its keyspace, that encryption algorithm is generally considered to be pretty well-designed. Even the small keyspace can be fixed with 3DES, a trivial extension that gives somewhere between 112 and 168 bits of keyspace, depending on just how many trillions of dollars you're assuming the attacker is spending.

      Insofar as its "weaknesses", all that I can think is that you're talking about how the S-boxes were hardened against differential cryptanalysis after the IBM design team independently discovered the attack. The NSA asked IBM to keep differential cryptanalysis quiet, and IBM did: but I don't see how you go from "it's specifically hardened against differential cryptanalysis" to "it has weaknesses the NSA knows about".

      Please do not fearmonger with crypto when you don't even have the facts right.
      • I apologize, I got that backwards. What I meant was that they kept Differential Crypto secret. FYI, I have *tried* to cryptanalyze DES, not very sucessful
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rumith ( 983060 )
      From the linked article:

      If you use Blogger, Google knows what you're passionate about.
      If you use Blogger, everyone interested in your persona knows what you're passionate about. That's the damn point of blogging.
      • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
        If you use Blogger, everyone interested in your persona knows what you're passionate about. That's the damn point of blogging.

        Some people might have passions they'd rather not were public knowledge, so they create an online identity they use when in an online community of like-minded souls. (As I do here, my name is not actually "1u3hr".) Google though knows all your identities, either because you told them directly to sign up for GMail, Blogger, etc, or they can deduce them from the linkages. If you didn

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )

        If you use Blogger, everyone interested in your persona knows what you're passionate about.
        So, basically, no one knows what you're passionate about?
  • by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @02:02AM (#20693015) Homepage
    I consume a number of Google services, and bare no grudge against them. However, tend to assume that all big companies with access to a lot of user data is in bed with the US government. Frankly, I don't know why one would assume otherwise. Simply act accordingly when using the services of such companies.
  • If putting your email, pictures and search data "out there" isn't enough , the folks at mint will happily store your financial records and access information automatically for you.

    Of course, it may just be sooo handy that it's irresistible .
    • by rm999 ( 775449 )
      Woah, that's actually a really cool website. Looks like they have a decent privacy policy too. If someone wants to know how much money I spent on beer and gas, that's their problem.

      Thanks for the link :)
  • by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @02:22AM (#20693105)
    I monitor Google's Execs [] each and every day for goatees. You can't be too careful.
  • by msormune ( 808119 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @02:54AM (#20693277)
    How abut a story about "Evil Slashdot" that is used as a massive tool for concentrated DDOS attacks? Oh wait...
  • Just for the sake of argument -
    What prevents the NSA, or you or me or Microsoft or the Illuminati, from writing a web spider and cataloging until our servers can't take it anymore? Given Google's got the software / hardware / smarts to do the job right, but it seems like the govt could reach into their vast pool of talent and unlimited resources and data mine for days.
    "heck of a map reduce, Brownie"

    full disclosure: I didn't RTF story but this is /. so you knew that already
    • The /users/ are what prevent the likes of NSA and Illuminati prevent being the top dog in this type of thing.

      You wouldn't give you information voluntarily to any of them, but Google has access to what you-

      * Read : Search engine, google reader (RSS)
      * See : YouTube & web/image search
      * Think : Blogspot
      * Say : Web & YouTube
      * Connect: GMail and GTalk
      * Write : Search, youtube, blogspot, GTalk, GMail
      * Habits : Googe cookie with millions of adsense partners who display the ads and from whose site
      • All good points, especially searches, gmail and the adsense cookies.
        Avoidable with a sufficient level of paranoia but who is going to bother except the actual bad guys
        The NSA could also be scanning all voice traffic and travel info, which combined with my cookies, browser cache and email would reveal how boring I am.
  • Used this way, Google mining would just flag everyone and overwhelm DHS with useless intelligence. That is, unless US government goes on Stalin -like purge and send tens of millions to forced labor. Minimally useful intelligence would look for long lasting patterns of accessing the same kinds of material or for active correspondence with other persons of interest. Your data would then be put under surveillance by a human to rule out benign explanations such as scholar research or interest in popular literat
  • (Score:3, Informative)

    by garbletext ( 669861 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @05:52AM (#20694075)
    Funny that the title is "scroogled," that's the name of a prominent anti-google site that runs the Scroogle Scraper [], so you can search google without having your entries put in your database. It's nice for doing searches that you'd rather not have in your search profile that google keeps for you. If you use their other services like gmail, they can basically know you intimately. I'd rather they didn't, but can't give up gmail. So it's easy to modify firefox to use scroogle instead of google for searching, and if you adblock adsense, and their urchin.js script, or just* they can't see what sites you visit either. It's sad that you have to work so hard to hide your movements from a company that "does no evil" but I guess that's the information economy for you.
  • by supersnail ( 106701 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @05:55AM (#20694087)
    Seriously you can reduce google's market share by using another search engine occasionally.
    As Market Share equates directly to income in the search business you deprive google of money and power by using another search engine.

    It would obviously be sinful to use MSN search, but Yahoo! is merely bad taste.

    "" is nearly as good as google and has a nice clean interface.

    Plus there are some Open Source "SETI at home" type search engines under development that are worth
    supporting "grub" and "Majestic-12" are two.

    Although as Majestic-12 is based in the UK, and the UK government is currently under the direct control of the US executive it would be easy to give the NSA direct access to everything.

  • [] [] rechecked articles - they are still accessible by 2007-09-21 10:00 UTC
  • by haakondahl ( 893488 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @06:54AM (#20694295)
    I certainly haven't read the story yet, and not the article (I confess), but the premise sounds a bit like "Flight Plan", wherein the only movie which Hollywood has seen fit to make about airline terrorism since 9/11 features who as the bad guy? Disgruntled American flight attendants. This is ludicrous.

    How about a story about Google getting in bed with the Communist Chinese government in order to help them limit information to the people of China? Oh, wait, *that actually happened*. Remember what happened if you searched for "Tiananmen Square" from Hope so, because Google turned off our ability to check that, with a quickness. How about a story in which Google could monitor and report terrorist communications but chooses not to? Oh, wait... Well, there's more money to be made in trashing America to its ungrateful and spoiled citizens-by-default. And it's the only one which actually qualifies as fiction.

    Flamebait Disclaimer--

    So I guess that we will just claim (in fiction, of course, I have my rights) that the agency (however bungling and infuriating) charged with keeping you little pop-culture sasquatch-hugging "I Believe" teen-agers (of whatever age) safe in a real shooting war--is somehow the evil to be fought, and that Google would align itself with the U.S. government at any rate.

    Karma to burn. At least I won't actually be beheaded for expressing my views in this country.

  • Wait ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mark_jabroni ( 547666 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @07:37AM (#20694455)

    So if Google cooperates with the Chinese government to suppress 'dangerous' speech and (probably) to identify dissidents, that's perfectly ok.

    But if they cooperate with the US Department of Homeland Security -- oh no! Look out freedom! Google is now evil!

    One of these countries imprisons, tortures, and kills political dissidents. One has annexed a foreign country and has been promising to annex another for fifty years. One destroys "illegal" churches and forces abortions.

    But thank goodness that Google is cooperating with the "Good" one.

  • Quit trying to put the genie back in the bottle, and just live a life where you don't have embarassing secrets to hide.

    It really does make life easier.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Eryq ( 313869 )
      Quit trying to put the genie back in the bottle, and just live a life where you don't have embarassing secrets to hide.
      It really does make life easier.

      And INCREDIBLY boring.

      I'll keep my embarrassing secrets, thanks.

  • I think most of the scary ideas Cory wrote about (cameras everywhere, the ability to track enoumous volumes of information, ...) have been giving the upper hand to the citizenry against the government (in defense of liberty) more than the other way around.

    The police are finding it harder, not easier, to abuse their vast powers when so many people have cameras and can upload the footage to youtube the same day.

    Even in China, you could argue that the internet is working that way also. One person can send an email and inform millions of other people what is going on before the government can act to stop it.
  • by ( 1024767 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @11:54AM (#20697331)
    Now, I like Cory Doctorow. I think that he's written some great books - I have three of them myself. And I think the story's a good one.

    But Slashdot is about -news- for nerds...

    My only problem with this is that real life is scary enough. We don't need to be thinking about what -could- happen -if- Google got even deeper into bed with DHS. I don't need those nightmares. I have enough nightmares of my own, traveling internationally for the first time in Novemeber in order to film a documentary. I'm not looking forward to explaining that the $500 Sennheiser wireless microphone is NOT a bomb trigger, or that the pipes that are in my carry-on bags are part of a homemade stabilizer and NOT a "pipe-bomb."

    I'm very scared of what this country is coming to. I don't need more "what-if" conspiracy scenarios, my mind is more than capable of coming up with them on my own.

    This story would undoubtedly be linked to from BoingBoing, which is also a top blog where it fits in. I think Slashdot should stick to news - that's all.
  • After reading about the flawed nature of search results and targeted advertising for identifying someone, you'd think that such hurdles would make such data next to worthless. It's like the story is trying to have its cake and eat it too. The data can either be accurate and reasonably represent the truth, or it can be faulty (like it is in the story), completely misrepresent events, and ultimately be useless to the DHS.

    The Google representative in the story admitted that everyone had something to hide, and
  • just because someone is a Christian, it does not mean

    1. We like Bush
    2. We will do whatever we can to force you to be a Christian
    2a. We will do ANYTHING to force to to do/don't do things YOU think "make" you Christian
    3. We like Christian music
    4. We want the whole United States to be a big megachurch

    its getting to the point where the open hatred of Christians as a group is at least as accepted as the hatred of other groups in the past.

    Your hatred makes you ugly.

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