Fearing Google

Mathias Döpfner writes an open letter explaining why he fears Google:

We know of no alternative which could offer even partially comparable technological prerequisites for the automated marketing of advertising. And we cannot afford to give up this source of revenue because we desperately need the money for technological investments in the future. Which is why other publishers are increasingly doing the same. We also know of no alternative search engine which could maintain or increase our online reach. A large proportion of high quality journalistic media receives its traffic primarily via Google. In other areas, especially of a non-journalistic nature, customers find their way to suppliers almost exclusively though Google. This means, in plain language, that we ­ and many others ­ are dependent on Google. At the moment Google has a 91.2 percent search-engine market share in Germany. In this case, the statement "if you don't like Google, you can remove yourself from their listings and go elsewhere" is about as realistic as recommending to an opponent of nuclear power that he just stop using electricity. He simply cannot do this in real life ­ unless he wants to join the Amish.

A reaction. And another.

Posted on May 6, 2014 at 10:30 AM • 68 Comments

Comments

SoWhatDidYouExpect?May 6, 2014 10:43 AM

But that can change. A large number of users have to shift to other providers, or just plan stop using their services. They now do evil, having become complicit with the spy agencies (despite their protests to the contrary). If they had openly resisted from the get-go, they would have become heroes. The backlash against the spy agencies would have been enormous, but they chose to make money on the deal instead. Greed rules...

x11739May 6, 2014 10:48 AM

As someone who's been trying to wean himself off of Google's services for the sake of not being tracked in every move I make on the internet, I have to say that even from a user's perspective it's very, very difficult. I can't log in to StackOverflow without enabling NoScript access to Google's APIs, and my browser doesn't seem capable of logging me in to Gmail without logging in to Youtube and Google Search as well, but I'm not seeing many good alternatives for some of these services. DuckDuckGo is working well as a search engine most of the time, though I occasionally need to fall back on Google, and I usually have to hit Google for image searches. Scary how addicted to Google's services I've become.

wiredogMay 6, 2014 10:57 AM

The link:
www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/mathias-doepfner-s-open-letter-to-eric-schmidt-12900860.html

CallMeLateForSupperMay 6, 2014 11:19 AM

@Bruce
The link you provide with "open letter" gives a 404 Error.

yesmeMay 6, 2014 11:37 AM

In fact, the answer is quite simple and mentioned a few times before. Use a paid subscription model.

The problem however is that people don't want to change at all. That is THE problem. Nor Google nor the author of this article are seriously considering a major change.

There are lots of examples of this problem, especially in IT (altough it is one of the newest sectors).

We rather take shortcuts and workarounds than actualy dealing with the core of the problem.

Think about: GNU Autotools, C++, the dinosaur standard called e-mail, SSL/TLS standard, IPv4/IPv6 (15+ years later), C/Unix, Windows XP (the most insecure OS ever), Unix terminal (yes), copyright and patent terrorism / extorsion (let's call it that way for sake of simplicity), Apache 2.x and binary blob drivers (Nvidia / Broadcom).

We just don't want to change.

kronosMay 6, 2014 11:41 AM

I often use www.startpage.com to avoid giving Google as much personal info as possible.

From the referenced article: "...is about as realistic as recommending to an opponent of nuclear power that he just stop using electricity. He simply cannot do this in real life ­ unless he wants to join the Amish."

Living without electricity in America is pretty difficult to do. Living without purchasing electricity from somebody else is getting easier and more affordable with each passing year. A combination of solar, wind, hydro and internal combustion generator can make it possible for many Americans to be completely off the electrical grid. The benefits of even partially producing your own electricity become apparent when a serious weather event knocks the local grid off-line for hours, days or even weeks.

Anderer GregorMay 6, 2014 11:47 AM

There is quite a salt of grain in *who* actually says this. Axel Springer Verlag is the largest newspaper publishers in Germany, its tabloid BILD, quite-tabloid WELT, and weekly magazine "Focus" are the most wide-spread (BILD) / among the most wide-spread newspapers (WELT) / magazines (FOCUS). And all of them are right-wing, conservative to the max. So much that the largest media watch blog in Germany is still named "Bildblog", because most examples of terrible journalism can be seen in Springer products. For example, in the '68, BILD openly called to shot and kill peaceful (though "lazy") student protestors. In other words, Döpfner is boss of the closest we have to Fox News in Germany.

At least in Germany, the traditional "dead tree" media companies, with Axel Springer Verlag as their lead singer, had the role that Google now starts claiming: They controlled what people read and saw, they decided which politicians were to stay and which were to resign. Last year, German President Wulff basically fell victim to a campaign that started with a (quite unwise) call at BILD chief editor Diekmann. These companies decided which ad campaigns were run and which weren't. These companies were more or less exempt from many parts of German data protection and privacy regulations when it came to their subscribers, and even ex-subscribers (their doorstep brigades are legendary ...). Still, a typical German news site has a dozen or more trackers, while all of them agitate against "Data Kraken" Google. FAZ, by the way, is the largest conservative non-Springer newspaper in Germany.

So, yes, Google is their natural enemy. But for completely economical and political reasons. And this is how one should read "open letters" and "replies" like those.

bcsMay 6, 2014 11:49 AM

@SoWhatDidYouExpect: you are suggesting that a major corporation and it's officers commit felonies. A very real possible outcome of that (even if the backlash you expect happens) would be that the US government ends up controlling Google, and very few people would count that an improvement.

@yesme: For many users, it's not a matter of change aversion or even the cash cost, it's that the value of the service is very close to the cost of the effort and risk of making the payment. Driving that cost-of-effort down will require creating a small number of ubiquitous payment services and that too will offer the potential for surveillance (and market inelegance will offer the motive).

cbMay 6, 2014 11:56 AM

Anderer Gregor made the only relevant, fact based reponse to the letter. Apparently it was a Rhorschack test for the other commentators here.

leather mouseMay 6, 2014 11:57 AM

I can choose to use a Google product or service.
I can blacklist Google's domains with a hosts file.

On the other hand, my life doesn't exist on a Microsoft Windows partition. I'm not sending and receiving proprietary information to/from Microsoft. You and I cannot confirm what proprietary updates contain. And as documented, Microsoft has root.

If I stroll inside the typical electronics/computer store, I still continue to see a majority if not all OEM systems loaded with Microsoft Windows.

Google freely offers me choices, some which even work on Linux. I can quit Google anytime I want. If you're the typical Microsoft user who has been using their OS exclusively for years, what then? Proprietary document types and applications have existed to train and retain Windows users.

I don't fear Google.

I fear a future where there is no choice but proprietary software on a proprietary platform, like Microsoft. Because after all, the first hit is always free.

SkepticalMay 6, 2014 12:20 PM


The article carries the impression of self-interested theatrics, especially when the author stoops to Stasi comparisons.

It's easy, really easy, for a consumer to switch from one search engine to another. Alternatives exist, they're functional, and it takes very little effort to use them. If Google falters, then a dramatic change in market share can happen within a short timeframe.

Google isn't used so widely because people are locked into it. It's used so widely because it's widely perceived to be better than alternatives.

And while I'm in favor of broad government regulation of how companies collect, store, use, and transfer their customers' personal information, I'm not in favor of extending special protection to European companies so that they can profit at the expense of non-investor citizens, which is what Dopfner repeatedly hints at throughout.

Matt BoehmMay 6, 2014 12:48 PM

@Brude @CallMeLAterForSupper
The url just needs http:// in front. It think it's a relative url.

DanielMay 6, 2014 1:00 PM

I can't speak to the worldwide context but at least in America we have a long tradition of search being a public good. This is what our public library system is all about--the dissemination of knowledge as a public good. Up until a about 2008 my own view was that the best answer was to simply nationalize Google and let the American government handle the search functions. I'm still not 100% against that idea, however, the enormous power of the NSA has made such a solution deeply problematic if not currently unrealistic as I no longer trust either one.

I remember a number of years ago that Bruce made a comment about how the power of the NSA was on a generational cycle and I agreed with him. Now I don't. I think the problem has gone beyond what a single generation can fix--it is becoming a deeply ingrained cultural problem. And cultural problems usually only end by the destruction of the culture.

DanielMay 6, 2014 1:11 PM

Let me clarify. There are two separate issues with Google. The first is the marketing power problem and the post by Anderer Gregor speaks to that problem. The second issue is what I call the "card catalog" problem, after the old paper card catalogs featured in pubic libraries. The reason that Google has been so successful is because in the old bricks and mortar world these two functions--marketing power and card catalog power--were separate. The person who was publishing ads had no idea what you were looking at in the library. On the internet these two activities are now unified and controlled by one entity. So the person selling the ads to the newspaper now knows that someone looked at Consumer Reports for dishwashers.

I honestly do not have a problem with Google having marketing power and in some sense the newspapers bitching about that is sour grapes. But I do have a huge problem with Google have card catalog power and being able to exploit for private profit what should be a public good. The difficulty is that I do not have a good answer to how those two functions can become unbundled again.

JeffHMay 6, 2014 1:38 PM

@x11739 "..though I occasionally need to fall back on Google, and I usually have to hit Google for image searches..."
Consider using StartPage. Set up correctly (and there's not much to set up), it proxies everything, including image searches, through the Ixquick servers. It's not perfect anonymity by a long shot, but it's far better than a direct Google search. I also trust a Dutch privately-funded privacy-advocating company with my search data slightly more than a US behemoth whose sole business model is selling my personal data. If it were a false flag, well, you're no worse off.

@yesme "Use a paid subscription model."
This assumes there is one that works. Like it or not, Google's search capabilities really do seem to be superior to a lot of other alternatives (granted, depends on what you're searching for). Any attempts at secure/trustworthy email that could be paid for have yet to really be trustworthy or secure (though I'm watching the various recent attempts with interest). What are the paid alternatives we all should flock to?

Would you really trust Google now if they said 'ok, you can sign up with us and pay a subscription to compensate us for the lost ad revenue, and we promise to anonymise all your results & not snoop your email'? I doubt most would believe them.

@leather mouse "I fear a future where there is no choice but proprietary software on a proprietary platform, like Microsoft."
Open software does not make for trustworthy software by default. Trust is neither open nor proprietary; it's about checks and balances.

Heartbleed suggests that even with some of the most sensitive code on the planet, nobody is actually checking OSS code. Just one example: are you an expert in wireless drivers, and able to check that your particular implementation of WPA2 is right, doesn't leak, and doesn't have a backdoor? Would you know it if you saw one? Are there testimonials from security experts for each and every package (and do you check them & trust their viewpoint), or do you just pull a package down because that's what everyone uses and so it must be ok? That's just one tiny piece injected into the OS; now review them all. Now review all their updates.

Heartbleed also demonstrated that nobody is accountable. After much gnashing of teeth, all we could say was 'well, better donate more to OpenSSL, in case that might have found the problem' (or do it all over again, well known to any software engineer as 'maybe better with a new set of exciting as-yet-unknown bugs').

I'm not arguing explicitly against OSS (far from it); just the logical fallacies that have built up around it. I've got more time for a future, proprietary or not, where the entity that built the software is held accountable for breaches & their behaviour/transparency with data collected, just as a company that makes aircraft control software is liable if they fall out of the sky. We trust engineers with our lives when they build aircraft, and we demonstrate the limits of that trust by legal arrangements & insurance. Why not with our data? Data can now destroy lives almost as easily. Why do we allow EULAs that basically say 'provided as-is; not our problem if it cooks the cat'?

Nobody seems to be clamouring for the chips in aircraft to cease to be proprietary, or refusing to fly because it's not on the GPL & they can't inspect the source. Nevertheless aircraft companies are very afraid of having that software fail in any way. Make loss/abuse of data a social problem of similar magnitude and the technical aspects will be mild by comparison. That's our community's real challenge in my view.

SeanMay 6, 2014 2:24 PM

This must be put in context: the author is the most powerful media mogul in the region, his name is signed on every anti-trust complaint against Google and he was behind the introduction of a copyright law in Germany that would compel Google to pay newspapers for linking to them: http://searchengineland.com/google-avoids-link-tax-as-german-parliament-declines-ancillary-copyright-rule-150153

He's decrying power while he has every politician's ear, while the irony is obviously lost on him, it shouldn't be lost on you.

It's pure business interest thinly veiled behind techno-panic gibberish.

CuriousMay 6, 2014 2:31 PM

Speaking of Google, I came over this piece of news linked on twitter today:
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/5/6/nsa-chief-google.html

This seems to be about some info shown with a FOIA request (email correspondence), about cooperation between the executives for some US companies (incl. Google) and NSA, in what is called Enduring Security Framework (ESF).

The Al Jazeera article sort of claim that the companies have so far only cooperated with the "government" when compelled by a court of law and that this type of cooperation show a more trivial relationsship to NSA.

ChristianMay 6, 2014 2:48 PM

For Firefox users:
surf to google

Check the website Information (Extras)
How often have you visited google?

I was shocked when I noticed that I have visited google more than 40.000 times.

TimMay 6, 2014 3:04 PM

@x11739. Yeah, it's true, you don't need to be visiting Google to be using Google. Everything from websites that use Feedburner for their RSS feeds to websites using Google content on their websites such as jquery scripts, you find that if you totally block Google it can break other websites you normally visit.

Mike AmlingMay 6, 2014 3:04 PM

> I can't log in to StackOverflow without enabling NoScript access to Google's APIs

So, the problem is that Google then gets a "Referer:" header in the GET for those JS files, right, which allows Google to track what your browsing?

What if your browser could be convinced to cache anything from ajax.googleapis.com, etc., and to use that cache rather than connect to Google? Can that be done?

And if the browser isn't that cooperative, make your own caching server, with /etc/hosts or your own DNS server pointing certain domains to it.

Stephen7318May 6, 2014 3:21 PM

I worked there, I've seen Evil. In reference to one of those linked-to articles, absolutism really is the right word. Google is governed in top-down fashion by one man with all power, surrounded by his Yes men, and corporate directives will trickle down the chain of command on a quarterly basis - no internal debate, no balance of power. History of Man for hundreds of years (millennia?) has shown that absolute power will corrupt absolutely, and human nature just won't change. It's in the genes.

Small people, protect thyselves.

M. MöhlingMay 6, 2014 4:31 PM

> Anderer Gregor
> Axel Springer Verlag is the largest newspaper publishers
> in Germany, its tabloid BILD, quite-tabloid WELT,
> and weekly magazine "Focus" are the most wide-spread...

wrong, Focus is owned by Springer's arch-rival Hubert Burda Media, cf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focus_(German_magazine)

> And all of them are right-wing, conservative to the max

BILD is a tabloid, has been raunchy and aggressive in the sixties, ie half a century past; it has mellowed since, reports eg with sympathy on gay marriage, Muslim migrants, or sustainability more often than not, interspersed only sparingly with conservative comments weighing in with anodyne doubts on the concept. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Welt is a respectable broadsheet, centrist for US standards, it backs government politics as does BILD (or almost all German papers), hardly "right-wing ... to the max," though obviously not as 'progressive' as Anderer Gregor would like to have it. For today's German conservatives fighting the right to abortion or support of death penalty is utter anathema, it's silly to call them right-wing, gives US readers a completely wrong picture. Besides, their political positions do nothing to Döpfner's critique of google, the NYT should see it exactly like that.

AlmondoMay 6, 2014 4:57 PM

@x11739
All sites have Google Analytics script code, and now Facebook and Twitter too. This means that whatever page you access, you perform a request to Google servers, so you can be tracked very easy without any cookie or login.
Oh, you surfed porn sites with the anonymity feature of the browser? Bad news for you.

65535May 6, 2014 7:24 PM

I’ll just make a few short comments to Mathias Döpfner.

1. Don’t continue to feed the monster. You have been doing it for too long.

2. You and your government are in bed with the NSA and by extension Google. Pull up your pants and get out of bed.

3. You allude to Baidu of China. China clearly saw the risks of Google/NSA and acted. You may consider doing the same. You have plenty IT experts. Use them to build your own search engine.

AlanSMay 6, 2014 9:03 PM

I want to stand this on it's head. What if Google (or the NSA for that matter) is a symptom rather than the problem? What if you could escape Google but it didn't matter because you hadn't really escaped at all?

So here's an alternative take which draws on Foucault (rather simply, no doubt) and might relate back to Bruce's book project and numerous posts on surveillance of various kinds e.g. recent "The Quantified Toilet Hoax" and "Tracking People from Smartphone Accelerometers".

So in the 18th we have the birth of the modern human sciences, practices that make man into an object of knowledge and administration. These are practices that now pervade institutions at all levels and the way we think about and constitute our sense of selves.

The "big brother" type surveillance is probably the least interesting. It's obvious and it almost demands resistance. Foucault discusses at least three different types of surveillance practices:

1. Disciplinary (see Discipline and Punish). The panopticon is the model for these. It is a way of thinking about practices that took hold in a wide variety of settings in different degrees: schools, barracks, factories, prisons, hospitals, etc.

2. Technologies of the self (see History of Sexuality). The confessional is the model. This is an old practice but in the modern context it is secularized. See discussion of “quantified self movement” in the article referenced in the recent The Quantified Toilet Hoax post for an example.

3. Population (see Security, Territory, Population). This idea emerges out of practices to control plague and disease but spreads into economics and other administrative domains. At some point population emerges not as a collection of individuals but as something less, a series of variables that can be acted on through calculation. Unlike discipline, which acts through denial, the manipulation of population functions through individual interest. "[population] is a set of elements in which we can note constants and regularities even in accidents, in which we can identify the universal of desire regularly producing the benefit of all, and with regard to which we can identify a number of modifiable variables on which it depends. [With population we have] a set of elements that, on one side, are immersed within the general regime of living beings and that, on another side, offer a surface on which authoritarian, but reflected and calculated transformations can get a hold."

So one could argue that computer processing, big data, the Internet, social networking, etc. do not constitute a break with the past. They are merely the advancement of practices that have existed since the 18th century. What is new is the massive expansion of sensors and tracking devices and tools to collect and process data and the almost frictionless proliferation of desires and risks. What is new is just scale and intensity.

If you are a Google you might point to all the good things that flow from this and some utopian technological future but we've already seen the dark side and it is very dark. Kafka only had an inkling of what was to come.

ChrisMay 6, 2014 10:42 PM

I am using Profileswitcher to switch between different settings in Firefox
-One with very tight security settings where I have my shortucts in Speedial
-You should have all the variants of different addons available for getting untracked
as well as using TOR (This aproach however is dangerous if you dont know what you are doing)
a Vanilla Firefox is not prefered for anonymity, its better to rely on Torbrowser for that
however this is my personal choice, be sure to read and compare the about:conf profiles
from tor browser and jondofox so you get a good start, and check your settings
at http://ip-check.info and EFF Orgs Panopticlick. You should also pay attention to Cookies
perhaps even using a whitelist approach of cookies only since this profile should then only
be used to those sites in your Speeddial and it should not take that long to configure the
necessary settings to work, after all is set backup your Firefox Profiles so that you can
move them or copy them between different computers (Goodluck and have fun)

When it comes to Google Search I havent used Googles Own Search engine at all after 2010 allready
and here is what I use instead and I have no problems what so ever to find what i need quite the opposite!
So as for changing your searchengines this is the easy part in the evil google equation.
- https://www.startpage.com (Uses Googles Searchresults without the evil)
- https://www.ixquick.com (Uses all of the "REST" of Searchengines except Gooogle)
- https://duckduckgo.com (Similar search results as Metager dont know what it uses though)
- https://metager.de/en (German Search Engine)

I have many other tricks but I should mention one in particular since its hardly ever talked about
and its DNS Leakage, here is my approach and it works very well.
1.)
In your TOR torrc config make sure that you have for instance these entries and then change your IP Settings to
point to 127.0.0.2 and 127.0.0.3 only (Windows XP after one sec patch breaks this and you need to change the localhost addresses to an actual LAN Address. (You can also have a dedicated machine on your network using TORDNS and point all of your clients to that, it works as well.
2.)
In your firewall block outgoing traffic to port 53 tcp and udp, and thats pretty much it.
AutomapHostsOnResolve 1
AutomapHostsSuffixes .exit,.onion
DNSPort 127.0.0.2:53
DNSPort 127.0.0.3:53

//Chris

ChrisMay 6, 2014 11:07 PM

Hi i just remembered another thing and this is mainly regarding Youtube
I found a new addon on eff.org called Badger that I have been playing around with
and for the first time i actually found something rather unusual read disturbing.

Certain movies seems to have a tag attached to it, tracking you from a very long
hostname with random letters, it only pops up for a short while and dissapears.

I havent looked into it yet but I will, but i do suspect it to be a special tracker
perhaps with governement involment, as an approach to counter this kind of adversary
i can today only think of 3 ways, two of them should be foolproof but painful.
1.) Use a whitecookie only policy and allow only (i1.ytimg.com and s.ytimg.com cookies)
2.) Dont use DNS at all, use hosts files approach (pain in the ass)
3.) Use self destrucing cookie addon (Not foolproof but perhaps better than nothing)
//Chris

DaveMay 6, 2014 11:08 PM

@Chris

That's a good start for sure. I just set up a OpenBSD firewall with Tor and use the transparent proxy mode with pf. (If you install 5.5 you will need to patch the heartbleed hole. The patch didn't make the release date.) This setup solves any problems with leaking packets that shouldn't go out directly.

After that, you are free to set up your browsers and applications to be as anonymous as possible.

ChrisMay 6, 2014 11:30 PM

@Dave

Hi Dave, havent played much with OpenBSD at all, using Linux here and occationaly windows in an immutable drive configuration within Virtualbox, however i have tried a similar approach on DD-WRT but the image i found was not satisfactory at all, as i recall, it only worked with http not https etc and the TOR was a very old version as well, i think there is a TOR ROUTER Project as well but havent heard much of it so i guess its not in active production which it should be.
But yes your approach works for sure but there are many ways to Rome :-)
Perhaps I should install OpenBSD in Virtualbox and have a look at it.
//Cheers Chris

DBMay 6, 2014 11:40 PM

Trying to wean off Google Search??

Try Startpage.com!

It is based on the Google's search engine underneath, so its results don't suck like DuckDuckGo does.... but it is based in the Netherlands and does not even collect personal information, let alone sell it to third parties for greed. At least that's what they claim, and they've been verified by some third party privacy groups, so it seems legit...

I've been running around to all my computers and reconfiguring the browsers to use it, and I've been quite satisfied so far.

Of course, using SSL outside the USA means your encrypted search queries are GUARANTEED to be stored by the NSA in their Utah Data Center forever, until they someday find another heartbleed-like severity bug that allows them to decrypt it all... Because we know that all non-USA residing entities and those who communicate with them are suspicious and might be terrorists, so that's the default action.

AlmondoMay 7, 2014 12:04 AM

NSA telling Eric Schmit they managed to "secure the BIOS", whatever that means, nice.

DaveMay 7, 2014 1:09 AM

@Chris

I also tried Tor on DD-WRT and OpenWRT and it was very old and mostly useless.

OpenBSD is probably the most secure way to set up a router. Plus, your Tor installation will benefit from LibreSSL when it is released in OpenBSD 5.6 (Nov 1st).

Linux can be strapped down well too with grsec, selinux, and pax. (Check out Hardened Gentoo if you really want Linux on your router.)

Whatever you run, be sure to have exploit mitigations. Not all OSes have them. They will save your rear from a lot of 0days/bugs. :)

DaveMay 7, 2014 1:15 AM

@DB

Use Tor+Certificate Patrol firefox plugin with Startpage for the win. ;)

Anderer GregorMay 7, 2014 3:20 AM

@M. Möhler: I stand corrected with regard to "Focus". Thanks for the link!

With regard to "right-wing" vs "centrist", it would be easy to find plenty examples of political topics where even liberal German parties are more conservative than US GOP, and vice versa (ID card/registration laws, speed limit, ...) -- taking two topics where most of Germany agrees on does not make a case. And just one look at the comment section of welt.de should give you a glimpse what the target group of said newspaper is.

ArkhMay 7, 2014 3:53 AM

"Living without electricity in America is pretty difficult to do. Living without purchasing electricity from somebody else is getting easier and more affordable with each passing year. A combination of solar, wind, hydro and internal combustion generator can make it possible for many Americans to be completely off the electrical grid. The benefits of even partially producing your own electricity become apparent when a serious weather event knocks the local grid off-line for hours, days or even weeks."

With the drop in price for computing power I think we'll soon see the rise of the personal electronic assistant: some software on a private cluster creating your own search databases. If work on natural language progress fast enough, you could even "ask" it to make some harder work for you and ping you when done. "Alert me when my name is used on some social network", "Tell me when a new exploit concerning those software is known" etc.
Everyone will have its own search engine.

AutolykosMay 7, 2014 4:42 AM

Anderer Gregor is mostly spot on with his comment. One thing I'd like to add is that Döpfner also has a private vendetta against Google since he (and some of his friends) tried to lobby for a law that forces anyone who quotes a newspaper (be it Google or a small blog) to pay for it. He got shot down in the end, but it could have gone either way.
With the usual track record our politicians have for understanding the Internet, I expected them to pass the law, leading to Google removing all newspapers demanding compensation for quotes from their index (like it happened before in Belgium), and Döpfner suffering the full force of the Third Chinese Curse.

nobodyMay 7, 2014 7:15 AM

"For Firefox users:
surf to google

Check the website Information (Extras)
How often have you visited google?

I was shocked when I noticed that I have visited google more than 40.000 times."

My firefox tells me that if never browsed this page before...

Some Add-ons and some simple configuration under "Preferences" -> "Privacy" and an additional BleachBit after the end of a browser session and you are there.

I also buy from Amazon from time to time but I never get any "recommendations"... :-)

tjohnMay 7, 2014 10:19 AM

If Google inspires some paranoia, what about the folks using Chrome as their browser?

curiousMay 7, 2014 10:50 AM

@AlanS and others (please excuse me, for ending up with this amount of text)

"I want to stand this on it's head. What if Google (or the NSA for that matter) is a symptom rather than the problem?"

I have to say that this notion does not make any sense at all to me, primarily because of the words 'problem' and 'symptom' used here.

NSA and their practicies is first and foremost a real thing (and then anything not NSA might be another set of practices); yet 'symptoms' aren't 'real', the same way a disease in a diagnose couldn't be 'real'. (The knowledge about, or the incident of a disease is not the same thing as a particular diagnose as such.) However, 'problems' insofar as you can fully describe them, such 'problems' are real, because the proper understanding of a 'problem' is thus a result of a personal consideration and not purely based on hearsay, instruction or practice, nor some *thing* being referred to. (E.g an individual is not really a problem a such, and neither is a natural disaster or a burning house for that matter.) Other than the forementioned, 'a problem' or 'problems' tend to just be a kind of rhetorical thing that impart a notion of importance or soemthing uttered as for providing a short or abbreviated explanation, where the reference to any "problem" become a conceptual metaphor where you end up having to fill in the blanks so to speak and somehow attribute meaning to it all. And so, I will want to now make the point, that so called symptoms about our world that would have to be talked about as some kind of conceptual metaphor, will likely end up having no substance if a shovel can't be called a shovel and if adding implausible elements to it, because of it all being based on a mix of hearsay and ideas that can only be understood in name only (basicly irrational). What I associate about things having no substance, are ideas that revolve around implied or supposed 'a priori knowledge' (you/we know, just because) or 'superstition' (you/we believe, just because). In this case I find the notion of "a symptom" to be quite a stretch.

Unfortunately I will say, in our time, superstition and a priori knowledge is probably rooted in today practices in modern social sciences and politics. What one risk here imo, is that a potentially sensible discourse about something will basicly become difficult if not simply impossible, specifically because of thinking people (as individuals) to be expecting nothing more than entertaining their own idiotic notions of reality, and if news/media, authorities and commentators do the same, noone so to speak, would be the wiser except for the ones that would benefit from a status quo, or perhaps anyone promoting specific ideas that is meant to resonate thoughout society in their own self interest (could be media corporations, politicians and institutions). I am here ofc directly implying that people in general probably have a false sense of reality, generally speaking though. (Ref "problem of representation" in philosophy.)

If one suspect ones society to be affected by notions of 'a priori knowledge' or 'superstition', then attempting to clear up such nonsense would be a good thing. If one doesn't maintain some basic restraints in making arguments, then I think one risk supporting or just trivializing the silly notions that I suspect end up being fundamental to some "modern human sciences". Psychology/psychiatry, sociology and antropology comes to mind. Being forthright is imo the biggest lack in public discourse, or so is my impression, as if everyones genereal understanding of reality was equal to that of some naivity of a 12 y.o writing a school paper about the world in general, being so sure of itself because of what it read in books/news written by adults. Imposing a narrative becomes a peculiar thing I would say, if being done by habit and not by conviction.

As much as I would like to laud anyone's attempt in wanting to describe important issues of our time, I think that to directly imply that there is a special knowledge about todays practices as they relate to our past is naive at best, or worse, a whitewash of what one has learned since old times. What I do no like about this notion of some special knowledge, is thinking that people in general might come to believe in things that become essentially impersonal: just another set of ideas that serve to either manipulate a group of people in public discourse or "ideas" that become a subject for entertainment (like much of daily news of today imo). I see an issue with anyone's critical view of the world, as being an "aquired taste", and so I suspect that to overcome the banality of public discourse, ideas alone isn't enough to make people understand the seriousness of something when they harldy have any opinion about the complexity of a situation in the first place. (Because of the aspect of it possibly being just some piece of entertainment and not something you wanted to know about or was interested in already.) One way to be forthright about ones view of the world, would be presicely to explain how one understood the complexity of the situation, but without it becoming self ironic in the same process in drawing parallels, making jokes or making comparisons that all essentially conjure a new set of interests which might or might not subvert the very subject matter that was deemed important initially. I am being here reminded of something I watched on video on the internet just recently, some guy from a security firm that to me seemingly ended up trivializing the NSA spying on foreign politicians, by simply making a statement of how he (with other other words) seemed to think that such activity should be thought of as being totally ok, without realizing that it likely could undermine local political processes when impacting political deals and potentially manipulating individuals to corrupt so called democratic political processes.


"So in the 18th we have the birth of the modern human sciences, practices that make man into an object of knowledge and administration. These are practices that now pervade institutions at all levels and the way we think about and constitute our sense of selves."

Hehe, I realize at this point that I have already commented on what I think of it, as flirting with a priori knowledge, which essentially is about seemingly having assumed that a piece of knowledge is simply true, meaningful or self evident. I in particular will have to disagree with this notion of myself being influenced by such theories. I like to think I am more of a free thinker, probably because I live a boring life, having had too much time goofing around on the internet reading about wildly different subject matter and having time to casually think about things at my own discression.


"The "big brother" type surveillance is probably the least interesting."
Given such ephemeral issues of more obscure social topics (so called "surveillance practices" in AlanS's text) that are probably unlikely to coalesce into something of interest of a society at large, I would say I have to strongly disagree to viewing big brother surveillance as be the least interesting. There is a sense of urgency I guess about alot of issues that also doesn't seem to be in the process of being resolved. I am inclined to that that alot more seriously.


"So one could argue that computer processing, big data, the Internet, social networking, etc. do not constitute a break with the past. They are merely the advancement of practices that have existed since the 18th century. What is new is the massive expansion of sensors and tracking devices and tools to collect and process data and the almost frictionless proliferation of desires and risks. What is new is just scale and intensity."

I have not read much about Foucault, however the way this sentence was phrased, I strongly disagree with this notion of there being this similarity or comparison of Foucault's criticism of society, to how computers and the internet has developed to this point in time. The crux of the matter seem to be what is and what is not understood to be a 'practice'. To think of there being a practice being some ideal one way or another, or worse some kind of arch type, doing that is a big mistake imo and would/could make criticism against practices much more bland that it had to in the first place, because in no time people will probably be aping after such considerations and nobody serious would be compelled to do anything. If on the other hand one were tempted to conclude that such social issues as 'privacy', 'human dignity' and 'welfare' never really existed, or rather never taken seriously at all earlier in history, then perhaps something could be done to improve the condidtions of today and for making the future better (or at least be known and not forgotten about), and as an additional point, so that classical ideas weren't lauded as something being made 'modern' if the powers at be obviously are the ones getting the best out of it all nonetheless. Not giving 'injustice' the label of 'treatmeant' or 'policy', as to not give others ideas that such "treatmeant" or "policy" was intended and unavoidable.

CFMay 7, 2014 11:01 AM

@Anderer Gregor

I don't have a dog in this fight, but, "...just one look at the comment section of welt.de should give you a glimpse what the target group of said newspaper is," is a ridiculous thing to say. I RSS hundreds of English language news sources, large and small, and they are almost all honeypots for lunatics.

If this guy is such an archfiend then you should have no trouble proving that by pointing to things that he has said and done. Just like when I warn people that Google's "don't be evil" days are behind them, I don't do it by pointing at the comments on YouTube and saying, "Just look at all the awful, crazy, evil things Google believes."

KhavrenMay 7, 2014 1:52 PM

I think the economic models discussed are incorrect, this reminds me of the previous telecommunications model for phone access.

1) It's seen as a human right (everyone should be able to get a phone)
- leads to regulation to extend access to all areas even non-profitable ones
- leads to tax to support regulation

2) Privacy is only from other private individual (listed vs unlisted numbers)
- government can always request records
- privacy requires additional cost from customer

3) There is a unique identifier (Phone number vs email address)
- assigned by company
- no ownership by customer even if it is tied to customer identity

4) advertising uses the medium and is annoying (SPAM vs telemarketing)


Consequently, there is no "controlling your private data" or "selling your data". The default state is customers are paying for the privilge of use, and if they wish privacy they will have to pay for it with no expectation of privacy from governments or the provider. Only regulation can counter this, even as Ma Bell was broken into regional carriers and the government restricted by wire tap laws, the same thing would be required to restrict the power of Google and the NSA.

JoelMay 7, 2014 1:59 PM

Redirect the following ip ranges to localhost and sleep easier at night:

173.194.0.0/16
216.239.32.0/19
64.233.160.0/19
74.125.0.0/16
108.170.192.0/18

Google owns many more but these are the only ones that ever trigger any packet counters for me. As others have mentioned, there are plenty of better search engines out there, and if I must use Google's services for something, I'll do so through a tor browser.

ChrisMay 7, 2014 3:15 PM

@Dave
Yes certifate patrol is an offline database instead of for insance ocsp protocol which leaves a trail...
Turn it off for your anonymity (Dont ever think anonymity and security is the same :-) )

@Almondo
BIOS yes I have read it in varios places, the RT one kindof gave me a feeling that..
there was a backdoor that the chinese had found and was actively exploiting, the fix..
Probably did not meen it was closed but more like hidden using somekind of " knock knock knock " open approach, however i dont know but i would never break something that is working myselfe just make sure only myselfe know how to SESAME it..
This is what I think the BIOS thing was about.

@Joel
Yes those are probably legit however, the problem with having a secure box
that you use for stuff when having a blocking approach is not affective.
Its like an antivirus program that can only scan for what is actually known.
A much more though painfully more a pain in the ass approach however in at least
in business worlds in europe is a whitelist only approach.
Aka... x.x.x.x is allowed x.x.x.y is not.
Very very very time consuming in the beginning but when all is set its very secure
//Chris

Terry J.May 7, 2014 4:44 PM

@Alex • May 6, 2014 11:48 PM

"So Putin recommended the Yandex in Russia"

Yandex has at least one office in the USA.

Mail.ru would be the better choice.

SoWhatDidYouExpect?May 7, 2014 7:26 PM

@bcs:

Hmmm. While I did not state anything about criminal activity, it seems that Google has not been forthcoming about its activities with the spy agencies:

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2014/05/correspondence_.html

Further, I do not expect people to quit using Google, nor do I expect any backlash against Google. What I said was:

"If they had openly resisted from the get-go, they would have become heroes. The backlash against the spy agencies would have been enormous..."

DaveMay 7, 2014 8:14 PM

@Chris

Yes, and anonymity isn't even possible online without security. ;)

Coreboot is a valuable defence against backdoored and downright buggy (UEFI sucks) BIOSes.

Nick PMay 7, 2014 8:33 PM

@ Dave

"Yes, and anonymity isn't even possible online without security. ;)"

Totally true. It's been my gripe with most of the reactions to NSA, for example. Almost all the proposals depend on software, OS's, firmware, etc that are wide open. One must secure the platform as well as the program/protocol.

DaveMay 7, 2014 11:11 PM

@Nick P

Agreed. Open hardware should be our new goal. Open source/free software is very usable nowadays and should be relied on. All blobs must die.

In the meantime, the FSF has recommended a modern Asus motherboard that runs Coreboot properly.

Combine Coreboot with a SeaBIOS payload. Add OpenBSD for a well-hardened server or workstation that has exploit mitigations enabled out of the box. (It's also the only FOSS OS that has privsep'd Xorg.)

Keep an mtree/tripwire/aide sig on a CD-ROM so you can easily verify key software components.

Don't order any parts or systems online. Buy from large local dealers with cash. Do not use untrusted USB devices.

I'm a sysadmin (obviously), and I have to assume I am targeted. It's no longer about tinfoil hattery or paranoia. It's reality.

Thank you Snowden. You are a champ with a heart of gold!

Non-IllusionedMay 8, 2014 4:23 AM

@ leather mouse:
"I can choose to use a Google product or service."

How viable is it not to send email to Gmail accounts?

Even if one could/would avoid sending to obvious ones (which, alas, for many, if not most people is not that far a step from trying to avoid email altogether) what about all the @[own_domain] accounts that are hosted by Google for various businesses and organizations?

"If you're the typical Microsoft user who has been using their OS exclusively for years, what then?"

Assuming a certain minimal level of intelligence and competence, I'd say that there are relatively few Microsoft (or Apple) users who couldn't, given a reasonable amount of time and sufficient motivation, transition successfully to a non-MS/non-Apple operating system. (At least for personal use; employer requirements are another story). I believe that for a majority of people,transitioning to another OS would ultimately prove to be more practicable and less difficult than avoiding Google services and products entirely. (At least mail and search)

"Proprietary document types and applications have existed to train and retain Windows users."

This can indeed be a major problem. The problems that trying to rely-upon the likes of OpenOffice/LibreOffice, GIMP, etc. and/or WINE in an MS-/Apple-dominated world can entail are all-too real and common. Such obstacles must not be understated or underestimated. I would contend, however, that those of trying to completely avoid Google mail and search services entirely would, for most people at least, prove to be considerably greater.

"Because after all, the first hit is always free."

Look at how many people have effectively handed over their privacy to Google, inviting them in to observe and monitor nearly their entire lives. All by succumbing so easily to the lure of "free" goodies from Google (Gmail, Docs, Drive, Voice, Maps, etc., etc.).
_________________________
@ Skeptical (May 6, 2014 12:20 PM),
"The article carries the impression of self-interested theatrics, especially when the author stoops to Stasi comparisons."
and Pascal (May 6, 2014 1:35 PM),
"Yeah. From Springer, a company with such a great track record when it comes to privacy." ,
and others:
Legitimate messages often come from messengers with less-than-exemplary credibility (and certainly from messengers with less-than-exemplary moral authority).

@ Skeptical (May 6, 2014 12:20 PM)
"It's easy, really easy, for a consumer to switch from one search engine to another. Alternatives exist, they're functional, and it takes very little effort to use them."

How much experience have you actually had with alternative search engines?

Startpage scrapes from Google but the results vary and, in my experience, have not always been a usable substitute for hitting the G-beast directly. DuckDuckGo? Next-to useless, except, perhaps, for the most simple and basic searches. I know I am not alone in these assessments.

For a considerable number of people, if not a majority, avoiding Google search is not "easy" and most certainly not "really easy", as you claim.

AutolykosMay 8, 2014 4:26 AM

@CF: Anderer Gregor may speak for himself, but I wouldn't describe Döpfner as evil or an archfiend, and I don't think this was the intention of Gregor's post, either.
He's just the most notorious cynical tabloid editor in Germany, and his business is giving the masses what they want (which is, to paraphrase a German band on one of his papers, "fear, hate, tits and the weather report"). The point I'm trying to make is not that you should question his motives (that one's easy: money). The point is that he has no journalistic integrity or credibility left whatsoever, so you should treat anything he says as cheap propaganda unless proven otherwise. Especially if he has a personal financial interest in the matter.

Non-IllusionedMay 8, 2014 4:33 AM

An omission in my previous post, in which I pointed-out how difficult, if not nearly impossible, it is to avoid using Google services. I neglected to also mention all of the scripting, tracking, etc. from various Google domains that has been nearly ubiquitous on countless third-party sites for some time already. (This was mentioned by several other posters)

Non-IllusionedMay 8, 2014 7:00 AM

@ JeffH (May 6, 2014 1:38 PM)
Excellent refutation of some of "the logical fallacies that have built up around" open source software and the resultant unjustified trust and false sense of security that we continue to see so much of.

Some apropos quotes from Gene Spafford, circa 2000-2002:
( http://spaf.cerias.purdue.edu/openvsclosed.html )
"the nature of whether code is produced in an open or proprietary manner is largely orthogonal to whether the code (and encompassing system) should be highly trusted."

"From this standpoint, few current offerings, whether open or proprietary, are really trustworthy, and this includes both Windows and Linux, the two systems that consistently have the most security vulnerabilities and release the most security-critical patches."
--------------------
"Any attempts at secure/trustworthy email that could be paid for have yet to really be trustworthy or secure"

From the context, what you really seem to mean (above anything else, at least) is email that is /private/. And I'm afraid that the only way to achieve that appears to be to implement and use PGP/GPG or the like to encrypt your email, client-side, before you send it. /And/ ensure that your correspondents do likewise, something that alas is simply not practical for the vast majority of the population.

But there is still a vast difference between truly private email that can only be read by its sender and intended recipients, at one extreme, and using a provider such as Google for email, at the other. Simply consider the reality of how vast and omnipresent Google is. How inextricably linked and nearly impossible to avoid their services have become. Is there any question that using just about any other email provider could only be at least a lesser evil?

--------------------
"Just one example: are you an expert in wireless drivers, and able to check that your particular implementation of WPA2 is right, doesn't leak, and doesn't have a backdoor?"

I realize this is completely tangential to the point that you were making (and a most valid one at that, as I noted at the outset of this post) but I'd just like to note something here. As you likely know, some people avoid using WiFi, at least for anything sensitive, for the very reasons you cite. On the other hand, it would appear debatable just how great the risks, in the overall scheme of things, that even completely open WiFi pose. Some would argue that even on a completely wired connection, anything sensitive requires its own authentication and encryption anyway (e.g., PGP for email, verifying the fingerprints of SSL/TLS certificates, etc.). And, of course, let us not forget a much-cited and commented-upon post from several years ago in which Bruce Schneier himself proclaimed that he deliberately leaves his home WiFi network wide open and offered his rational for doing so.

You cited a number of potential attack vectors on the software level. Others cited several on the hardware level.
(I would have thought that someone such as Bruce Schneier would have been well aware of such potential hardware vulnerabilities and would have therefore kept a separate, dedicated, non-networked box all along for working with highly sensitive documents. I was therefore rather shocked to read, in a past post of his, that Dr. Schneier only acquired a dedicated computer for such work /after/ some time of using his /regular/, /networked/-computer, booted into Tails, for such work.)

Non-IllusionedMay 8, 2014 8:25 AM

@ Daniel (May 6, 2014 1:00 PM, 1:11 PM)
"at least in America we have a long tradition of search being a public good."

We also have a long history of the very concept of /public good/ being demonized for the benefit of private, elite interests. Demagogues and propagandists have effectively associated public good with the likes of "Socialism" and "Communism", long radioactive and even dirty words in mainstream American political discourse. The mere invocation or insinuation of such words holds remarkable power, immediately conjuring dreaded images of Stalinist gulags and Mao's Cultural Revolution. (This is confounded by the fact that along with manipulating the masses to take positions that are against their own economic interests, the statements of such demagogues, more often than not, contain a great deal of validity and even truth as well.)

"I honestly do not have a problem with Google having marketing power"

You don't see any contradiction between this and your earlier statements that were clearly in favor of public good as a guiding value and goal?

Isn't "marketing power" of /any/ private, /for-profit/ entity at odds with the public good?

Whether or not this is /inherently/ so (and many would insist it is), hasn't it been consistently shown to be inevitably so in reality? (by history and continual, repeated experience)
________________
@ M. Möhling (May 6, 2014 4:31 PM):
"For today's German conservatives fighting the right to abortion or support of death penalty is utter anathema,"

First, did you really mean to make such a sweeping, blanket statement about /all/ of "today's German conservatives"?
This is clearly implied by your lack of any qualifier such as "For /most/ of" or even, "For /nearly/ all".

Additionally, your statement implies that opposition to abortion is an exclusively or even inherently conservative or right-wing position. There are more than a few individuals who would dispute and/ or whose existence counters such a characterization. Veteran civil libertarian and Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff is one. See the site
http://no-violence.info/
for more (and a broader perspective that transcends political and ideological labels).

I would say more but will refrain for the sake of not taking the thread further off-topic.

Non-IllusionedMay 8, 2014 8:37 AM

The fingerprint-checking site http://ip-check.info/ was mentioned by Chris (May 6, 2014 10:42 PM) and perhaps others.

Given the known ability of any given Tor exit node to tamper with content (and the obvious possibilities this creates for malicious purposes), don't you find it odd, if not suspicious, that ip-check.info is not an HTTPS TLS/SSL site? (and therefore able to be authenticated)

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsMay 8, 2014 2:56 PM

Knowing at the time Google was offering a beta gmail that would extrapolate data contained in the e-mail to perform "targeted" marketing was an open invitation to perform a general PSYOP. Create an account, seed your e-mails, and create interesting chains (did anyone think they wouldn't scarf the mailx headers too?) and monitor the results returned from gmail presentation of their processing model. Great fun.

I have several e-mails that generate NO RESULTS for the content of the e-mail--that's qualifiies as a winner and if you send it to someone you can be assured that you can garner unwanted attention for the recipient...also great fun. I have some fully tested samples that use two different testing models; an e-mail containing detailed data about fissile plasma triggers for testing weapons based filters, another sample set includes information security and electronic warfare tech snippets. Haven't focused on "illegal" types of scenarios--I don't believe that technological information of and by itself constitutes "illegal" information.

Another account is a masked identity, an account that allows me to test the bounds of interchange (mailx) headers...testing the attention one might receive if for example purchasing "burner" phones, pay cards, and encoded messages. Want to really get attention, embedded stenographic images inside PDF files...gets em every time.

Go have some fun...

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsMay 8, 2014 3:07 PM

Forgot to mention create another public account e-mail on hotmail or yahoo. That allows the "bounce" effect to be evaluated...a bounce is a contextual mapping that will generate hop analysis by the graphing functions (bayesian network).

SkepticalMay 8, 2014 5:27 PM

@Non-Illusioned: Startpage scrapes from Google but the results vary and, in my experience, have not always been a usable substitute for hitting the G-beast directly. DuckDuckGo? Next-to useless, except, perhaps, for the most simple and basic searches. I know I am not alone in these assessments.

For a considerable number of people, if not a majority, avoiding Google search is not "easy" and most certainly not "really easy", as you claim.

You're conflating two different questions:

(1) Are other search engines of equal quality to Google?

(2) Is it easy for a consumer to use an alternative to Google?

The answer to (2) is yes, it is very easy. Type the address of a different search engine in your browser. Run your search.

Now, is the alternative as good? Maybe not. But that's not really an antitrust problem. If someone can devise a better search engine, they'll have no difficulty attracting funding, and it will be very easy for a consumer to switch to them. No one is locked in here.

dolotsofevilMay 9, 2014 1:48 AM

Users can avoid google pretty easily, they just make a lot of stupid excuses like they need to watch FUNNY CAT VIDEOS or buy stupid crap online they don't really need. Many online price comparrison services are available and you don't need Google to use them. You can use Tails, or if you are too lazy to download and burn an ISO image to DVD, you can use Tor Browser Bundle.

There are also a swag of plugins like NoScript, Add Block Plus, Track Me Not, and web bug/tracker blockers like Ghostery and others that make it hard for evil companies to envade your privacy. PeerBlock will block connections to many IP's and PortSpoof can spoof fake data to port scanners.

There really should be legislation to better prtotect privacy, but even if you are Googles Whore you can still use it at least find ways to better protect your own privacy.

It's businesses that are being hit really hard by Google. If a business does not fork out huge amounts of money to Google the they lose a lot of business, but the cost of getting better rankings on Google is sending those same businesses broke.
This is where regulators need to really step in hard. Google already evades most of it's tax, at least it could drastically lower costs charged to small business.
Doesn't Google say something about not being evil?

stevenMay 10, 2014 5:02 PM

I had the idea of a 'no Google day' where you null-route their IP ranges for 24 hours and see what happens at your home or place of work. I can imagine responses ranging from "the Internet isn't working" to "but I have no other way to contact X" to "wow, if Google has an outage, none of these websites/apps/devices are usable?".

The dependency could be due to outright laziness, or it may be described as convenience, but it obviously carries a risk for the entire lifetime of our systems, processes or habits, and mostly we're oblivious to it.

AutolykosMay 12, 2014 8:06 AM

@Non-Illusioned:
I think M. Möhlig is mostly correct with his statement that German (or other Western European) Conservatives won't fight for death penalty or completely outlawing abortion. Those positions are usually seen as so far off the mainstream that anyone in favor of them wouldn't be considered a Conservative anymore. These people do exist, but even most of our Conservatives don't take them seriously. Our political cultures are just fundamentally different: All but the most moderate Republicans would be considered right-wing nutcases by European standards, and most of our mainstream Socialists and Social Democrats would be considered Communist Hippies by American standards.

Acorn1May 13, 2014 1:57 PM

The solution is an App that randomly performs Google searches. Thus, the data gathered by Google becomes worthless because your valid searches are hidden in a cloud of random searches performed by the App. If a large segment of the population ran this App, Google's data would become worthless. Advertisers and other users of the Google data would withdraw their funding. Google would then be reduced to a search engine provider - but a very good one.

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