Google eyed

Look who's watching...

Two of the largest democracies – America and India – top the list of countries wanting to snoop on their citizens. How is that for wonderful liberalism? Can these countries talk of censorship with a straight face?

In a bid to curb terrorism and other anti-social activities, US, India, France, Britain and Germany have requested Google Inc to divulge surfing habits and details of its users. Google also listed how many times governments across the world sought to censor video on its widely watched YouTube video site.

Have these governments prevented the voyeurism they promote to suit their political agenda by getting citizens involved in their devious plans to purportedly serve them? How can you curb terrorism or anti-social activities by checking on the surfing habits of people? There are people involved in research, writing, activism, or just those curious to learn more, who might want to take a look at what is happening in the particular field. If I were to type out “Who killed Osama?” would it make me suspect?

I write a lot on the subject of terrorism, communalism, the global bubble and, while I have my opinions, I might have to check out some facts. Are these governments trying to prevent us from accessing information, especially that which is not fed by the establishment? Or even a certain stripe of counter-establishment? How different is it from the dictatorial regimes that completely blank out sites? At least the people living there are aware of what is happening. We don’t even know when we are being spied on. This is plain disgusting:

In Tuesday’s update, Google included total number of user accounts targeted, instead of just the number of requests made by police, courts and other agencies. Google is trying to get users to share even more tidbits about their lives on social networking service Plus, which has attracted over 40 million account holders since it debuted in June as an alternative to Facebook.

The police and the courts can make these requests only if they have a special case and evidence that they need to check out. Fair enough. But why is Google getting co-opted? Why is it asking people to share more information? This is really low, for not only does it deliberately put its users under suspicion by default, it also makes them vulnerable to other sorts of attacks by non-government sources. I can well imagine how even a joke might misfire.

There are thousands of cyber crimes committed. How many of them are spied on by these concerned governments? How do they define ‘anti-social activities’? There was an interesting interview in Mumbai Mirror with Mumbai's Commissioner of Police, Arup Patnaik. He came across as quite upfront. However, when asked about the deadline of 1.30 am for bars and pubs, he said:

“You conduct a survey and find out how many of the city's total population want to have a life after midnight. I am not here to serve these people.”

Does he not realise that this is not only about the elite? Young people from middle-class families are going out – remember India is shining and all that blah? People work late hours or do night shifts. Besides that, there are so many who live on the streets. Do they have to go out after 12 am to get killed or raped? Do the police close shop after midnight? And what do they do after that? Send out feelers to Google to check out what people are surfing on the Net?

Terrorists and other criminals do not need to depend on websites, and it would be plain silly if they did to find out what’s happening with their gang. If anything, they end up feeling like heroes because of the way the media thrusts them down our throats every other day. These governments usually let bloodied figures get enough display time to build up anger and emotion and then decide to withdraw because such images are “too brutal” and “they could divide society”. This is not funny. It is paranoia that is let loose like a mad dog and then strapped with a leash. It only ends up with it pulling at the leash and more blood.

The establishment is ready with soothers and balm, not to forget its pre-emptive measures. Like snooping on you. You, often the victim, are seen as the vulture.

It’s time to type out the next search phrase: “nekid pix of prisoners”. Let us play the way the governments play us.


  1. FV,
    First, even if Google doesnt provide these govts any user data , there are tons of data points that govts are collecting , which they will use against people. A few months ago, RBI asked banks to sms every ATM or Purchase transaction to customers , people thought "wow", this is for our convienence. Truth is Govt will track each account and each transaction to each number , which further tracks your location to an accuracy of 100 Meters . anyway that said . what are govts smoking these days , cant be weed also . Did ajmal kasab look for Taj on google maps and searched for auto fare between seashore and Bombay central. Do the tribal areas in waziristan update their Orkut profiles "i am waiting to be droned". Do IM guys use gtalk, what joke ?
    fact is we are being tracked more than we ever where, so that if we dont behave we will be searched ...On Google :)

  2. JJ:

    Haha. I did think those post-ATM alerts were for convenience. In fact I get alerted for everything, even unpaid bills.

    And I know that one person here used to keep hammering a certain term for me because he wanted it to show up on search engines. Do you know what this means? That even if you type something to run down someone/hit back at, it could be seen as a viable cause for alert? Ridiculous.

    PS: Autos do not ply between the seashore and Bombay Central (they are only in the suburbs). Why did you not search google?!

  3. Oh yeah ...I forgot that ..actually i have never been to that side of town for a long long time , I always stay at the Sahar airport road (3-4 hotels in same lane) and travel till Powai and back to the airport ..oopsies daisies ... JJ


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