Tuesday, August 4, 2009
google phone app for CIA: iSurveillance
In the NPR program All Things Considered, August 3rd 2009, they reported on the Google CEO who has just recently quit the Apple Inc. board. They explain in the report that Google is now focusing on researching and developing their own operating software, mostly to rival Windows, but also to further develop their cell phone development. Of coarse the report and subsequent interview focused on the technological advancements and business side of this former alliance of sorts: Google helped develop apps for the iPhone which it is now developing products that are in direct competition with resulting in an industrial conflict of interests. As is also explained in the the difference between how Google apps work versus the way that Apple apps work. The difference is this: the Apple apps are part of your actual device, computer, phone, what have you, and the Google apps are housed on the server. What the interview and report failed to mention is the ease of access for apps which are kept on a server.
Having barely used and iPhone or an app for that matter, I can only speculate on the amount of say sensitive personal information may be incorporated into some of these conveniences. It seems to that a lot of these are either surrogate devices such as a calculator or compass, rendered digitally and others are more entertainment based, more like a video game or some frivolous digital representation of a squeeky toy for dogs or something along those lines. I am sure that there are many more that I am not aware of some with real life applications surpassing my biased assumptions that the majority are purely commodified accessories, available at no cost or for a nominal fee, to enhance the already alluring features of the amazing hand held devices that we find ourselves being given the option to purchase. However!!, the difference in where these apps are situated and operate have huge implications for surveillance for the governments on the globe. A company like Google, or Apple for that matter, does not reach the omnipresence that it has by sheer ambition. It is granted such positioning by conceding to act and fund in a matter that directly ties into the agenda of the governing party of which the business is found operating in. As Google has already demonstrated in China, it is willing to pander to governments, regardless of affiliation and human rights (and wrongs) history in order to break a market for a profit. Arguably the Chinese market is too big and growing with such virility that any business if given the opportunity could only concede in order to get a piece of the sweet and sour pie, so-to-speak.
Now, having mentioned the potential lack of personal information such as social security #'s or addresses of the app users, there is more subtle and potent information in which the government can harness to use as a method of control over the masses. This information is of our behavioral impulses in using devices that we are more intimate with than any human being during unregulated and unrestricted moments of personal isolation whether being physically isolated or virtually isolated while encapsulated in an app while killing time on the subway or bus. It is also the most direct and candid source of information about our interests and ideologies that the governments, advertisers, and corporations (the dividing lines of these three are becoming increasingly blurred or erased all together) have in order to continually inflict subversive and possibly subliminal control over our consumeristic behavior, if you will.
These intricacies of digital commodity may not be on the package of the product which is funneled to the world consumer bank, but just as cloned livestock meat that is either now or in the very near future in U.S. supermarkets should be labeled as such (a no-brainer of maintaining corporate ethics, or is that an oxymoron), so too should the location of where apps are being operated and the accessibility of government to this information and the degree of compliance that Google is playing into governmental interest.....yes, I do see the irony of using a Google run service such as Blogger to post this fleeting call for awareness and caution.
NPR: All Things Considered. Google CEO Quits Apple Board. August 3, 2008.
*after publishing this post I ran across a related article by the venerable Amy Goodman of Democracy Now: Free Speech vs. Surveillance in the Digital Age.