Google Earth unveiled a new function – StreetView – a couple of days ago. This service is basically an Astro van driving around large cities and taking high-resolution photographs of everything. This is pretty cool, but if the pictures are updated regularly it raises certain ethical dilemmas. For one thing, Google is now hoarding a massive repository of personal information. With Google’s access to search engine results, email, advertising, credit card and social security information (Google Checkout), and now photographs of our location at any moment, they’ve pretty much got the market cornered on our lives.
None of this is a big deal yet, even if you’re one of the unlucky people who is cheating on his wife when that Google picture van rolls around. But by inviting such an expansive and ubiquitous company into every aspect of our lives, we’re pretty much asking for the ascendancy of Big Brother somewhere down the line. Mark my words: Google won’t remain benevolent forever. Right now, they’re extremely useful and we have every right to hand them all the information they seek. Just don’t be surprised when it comes back to bite us many years down the road.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and I know Google’s not out to do us any harm (yet) – but for some reason, those vans just freaked me out. Perhaps if they had taken their pictures in colorful Google-branded sports cars, I wouldn’t be so wary.
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