Tag Archives: google

State surveillance is not comparable to online privacy issues

Often, when opposing state surveillance such as that revealed by Ed Snowden, activists are questioned why they use online services that actively collect data about them. There is one core reason why this comparison is unhelpful and irrelevant.

“You are the product” goes the saying, which is true. Companies like Google and Facebook collect streams of data about who we are and what we do. Some have called this “self-surveillance”.

When we “self-surveil” and grant companies the ability to use – and sell – our data, we expect – and get – something back. We get a service. We pay a small privacy price (largely inconsequential, I’d argue) in exchange for a service.

On the other hand, the state demands we let them take our data. They chose warrant-less mass-collection over targeting, leaving us in the dark about what they’re collecting. We get nothing in return – there is yet to be a convincing case, backed up with evidence, that the mass surveillance of the citizenry in any way makes us safer.

There is one, undeniably crucial difference however.

The state has the power to use that data against us in a devastating way.

We can be detained, without charge, for fourteen days – the longest pre-charge detention period of any comparable democracy. Previously this limit was 28 days, and there was an attempt to raise it to 90 – that’s 3 whole months of being locked up for being a suspect.

Outside of detention, the state has the power to severely limit our activities with only “suspicion” as a reason, destroying the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

I don’t see any social networks able to limit my civil liberties…

Image: CC-BY-SA George Rex

Stop breaking the internet!


That’s what I’m getting at the moment whilst trying to read an article from a feed I subscribe too.

I use Feedly, as you may have guessed, which insists on hijacking the URLs from the feeds with it’s own redirects. I get no benefit from this, just the longer wait when, as has happened a few times, Feedly’s redirect service decides to be a dick.

It’s frustrating, and unnecessary. Worse, Feedly isn’t the only one. Twitter has to be the worst. Every bloody link goes through t.co now. Facebook does. Google does it on search results even.

How is this good for the internet? How is this good usability?

It’s not. Please stop it.

Google, the freaky line and why Moto X is a game-changer

This article really speaks to my excitement at what technology can bring to our everyday lives. People know the Star Trek concept of saying "computer" and having it complete a task. The Moto X does exactly that. Obviously it’s nowhere near those sci-fi heights but remember for a second the state of technology ten years ago. Compare that to the advancements now, including Moto X. Now extrapolate that to ten years into the future and the scenarios this article suggests seem like a doddle. "OK Google Now, transport me to the pub."

Read Google, the freaky line and why Moto X is a game-changer

How the embedded tech revolution has already started

I wrote recently about how I considered the whole wearable tech phenomenon to be a bit of a misnomer as projects like Google Glass will be superceded by embedded tech.

Well, this news from Google-owned Motorola confirms that. A pill that’s sits in your stomach, powered by stomach acids and acting as a authenticator, and a tattoo that sits on your skin – both realistic and achievable within the next few years. Exciting!

Google censors your music. Shits.

I recently ripped a bunch of my CDs to my PC again with the express intent of putting them onto Google Play so I could play them anywhere. Having listened to them this week I was shocked to discover that Google is censoring my music!

Whilst listening to The Willing Well III – Apollo II: The Telling Truth by Coheed and Cambria I noticed there were gaps. At first I thought the rip had failed, so I listened to the original MP3 and soon realised that the word “whore” was being cut out. The line goes;

Just come look at what your brother did
To that girl’s precious little whore of a body now

A delightful song, as you can see.

Then today, it happened again… this time the word it stripped out was – shock horror – “die”. Yes, really. The line is;

I hope you die right now

Again, delightful song. Again, Coheed and Cambria but this time the song was Upon Your Dead Body.

Somehow Google thinks that censoring my music is fine. That I shouldn’t listen to music about whores, death and dying.

I realised this probably isn’t some sort of automated censoring as, when  playing favourite tune Make Yourself by Incubus, there was no censoring of these lines;

If you let them fuck you, there will be no foreplay.
If I fuck me, I’ll fuck me in my own way.

Liking my taste in music yet?

So I tried to find out why Google has deemed itself arbiter of taste and decency. Predictably, there was nothing in their help section but a quick Google found plenty of people discovering the same thing (apparently their “matching” feature often matches the ‘clean’ version of songs) and even a solution.

Can I really be arsed (censor that, fuckwits!) to go through every censored song to get rid of those ridiculous gaps though?

Why is Google even doing this? Censoring the word “die” FFS! What am I gonna do, listen to the song and then go on a murderous rampage? Comments are open…

Does Amazon does this? If it weren’t for their foolish reliance on Flash I’d be using their Cloud Player instead…

This is why I love Google…

Whilst watching the Olympic marathon I wondered about the length, so I asked Google what 26 miles is in kilometres, knowing it’d give me an instant conversion. A pleasant surprise was that Google figured I was probably watching the marathon given the timing of my query and also showed me the live results, as you can see from this screenshot.


Occasionally I see articles pop up from people (mostly copyright holders) whining about this kind of use of information by Google. The fact is, it’s incredibly useful to the user. These kind of intelligent results show exactly why Google commands such a massive dominance in the search market.