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Google – The Surveillance Infrastructure – Privacy Tactic


Zimmer (2006) wrote “The Panoptic gaze of web search engines: Google acts as an infrastructure of Dataveillance”, that deals with how Google as the surveillance infrastructure, used by corporations and governments, collects and aggregates surveillance data on you.  The government can see the terms you search for, and basically know every passing thought you have, or medical condition you research.  Ask yourself how this could be used against you, and you’ll see the power of the Google Surveillance machine.

Google offers a diverse suite of products (more than 70), which tracks your personal profile using web cookies, detailed server logs, and personal user accounts, Zimmer states ” this gives Google a power infrastructure of dataveillance to monitor, record and aggregate information about their user’s online activity.”

Zimmer discusses how Google’s particular infrastructure of dataveillance

  • 1. Poses a threat to the unencumbered navigation of the Internet
  • 2. Harbours concerns over Google’s role in exercising disciplinary power
  • 3. Google’s Panopticon sorting of its users
  • 4. In the face of default settings, which require the sharing of information.

Search has been called the new center of gravity for the computer industry.

Zimmer asks us to realise that it is crucial to look beyond the privacy implications of what kind of personal information can be found via search engines, as it’s critical that we examine what kind of personal information is collected when users rely on search engines.

Lyon (2001) states, surveillance is the “collection and processing of personal data, whether identifiable or not, for the purposes of influencing or managing those whose data have been garnered.”  Surveillance “tries to make visible the identities or the behaviours of people of interest to the agency in question”, (Lyon, 2002).

In conclusion:

You may want to limit your exposure to Google, just in case, Zimmer is proved right, and governments, tax inspectors, council departments, benefit fraud officers, use the information stored about you, courtsey of Google.

You will also note that EPIC have a legal case against Google, which alleged that GMAIL = WIRETAPPING.

Zimmer Links


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