Is Google the next EVIL company?

Do you remember the 1999 movie Pirates of Silicon Valley?  I only vaguely remember it, but there was a scene where Bill Gates is being introduced by Steve Jobs at some conference and someone off stage has come across the revelation that IBM isn’t Apples competition, Microsoft is.  He is trying to get Steve’s attention, waving his arms from the side of the stage and points to Bill saying – “IBM’s not the enemy – He is the enemy!”  But its too late.

I think its getting lost in the translation here – but there was a real sense of evil and treachery.  I sometimes wonder if Google deserves that same guy waving his arms trying to get our attention to say – “They are the enemy”.  Yesterday there was a lot of talk about Facebook’s new privacy policy (which I am convinced is a timeless phrase – 3 years from now you could read this post and be like, yeah I just read about Facebook’s new privacy policy on engadget.)  The part that I find ironic about all of this privacy chatter is how inconsistent the public seems to be regarding who they fire back at concerning privacy and who they give a free pass to.  Facebook resets (although they are denying it) your privacy settings and we all scream “NO!” and start Facebook groups called “Tell Facebook, We’re not going to take it anymore!”

But Google knows more about you than any government or other company already.  You may think, “Not me, I don’t use gmail or google” but if you have a facebook page – Google has crawled it.  If you have a twitter account, Google has indexed it.  If you have ever received any email from any gmail account, most any college email account (most are google hosted), and many more than you realize business accounts (like [email protected], also google hosted) – then Google has your emails (At least the ones that traveled through their servers).  Check out Google Maps street view and you can most likely see the front of your house, which car you parked in the drive way, and if your TV was on in the front room when they came by.

Recently it was discovered that Google has sniffed network packets through neighborhoods while recording for “street view”.  Explained in non-technical terms – they grabbed personal data going over your wireless network in your house when they drove by.  In the press release it was stated that Google was working with the governments in all of the countries where data was taken in order to “dispose of the data”.  My personal belief – data is NEVER disposed of.

In the recent Batman movie, all the cell phones in the city were turned into listening devices for the government without the permission of the owners or a warrant.  Google entered the phone market less than two years ago and have already outsold Apple iPhones in the US.  I’m getting my Android powered HTC Evo tomorrow in fact.  They *could* tap into the OS on the phone to know where you are, where you have been, how fast you drive, which routes you take to work and church, and which fast food chains you like.

We get all of these wonderful Google services (email, navigation, search, online docs, picture services, etc) for the grand monetary price of “free”… but don’t be fooled, we pay for it with 1’s and 0’s; personal information given freely in exchange for great services from Google.

Still, I find myself to be a Google fanboy… what about you?  Is the once “Do no Evil” company the next big evil giant?  Are you a fanboy?  Can you believe they are evil and be a fanboy?