Google’s memory
Religion & Liberty Online

Google’s memory

Google recently surpassed Time Warner as the world’s top media stock. Google provides services to about 19 million users per day. People go to Google to find things, participate in discussions via online forums, to check and send email, driving directions, and a host of other services. That is a lot of information about a lot of people…where does it all go?

Apparently, Google keeps it all! What is the cost of this data collection? How much of our own privacy are we willing to give up for “better services”? Amid reports of identity theft and lost personal data, important questions like these arise.

The “World Wide Web” is only about 16 years old (according to the W3C) and should still be considered in its infancy. A lot has changed in those 16 years in terms of capability, usage, and the general worldview developed by the people who use the Internet. In terms of a human life, a 16 year-old is considered the epitome of identity crisis and immaturity.

Nevertheless, the Internet has become a force that shapes us, rather than an entity that we control. How willing we are to open our entire lives to what most of us consider an empty void? We tend to assume that anything about us is lost in a massive haystack of information, not traceable to us. We also forget that with the 16 years of development in the Internet, every needle with our name on it within that massive haystack has a string attached and is found quite easily.

With the upcoming boom of RFID tags, national identification cards, biotechnology, DNA profiling and analysis technology, rampant virus and identity theft techniques, and, most importantly, changing social structure and community development, our own identity should be closely guarded. We need to think a little harder about how much of our lives we should give to the Internet, and about how much we should take from the Internet. The Internet is a tool, and we need to use it in that regard, not as the only source of entertainment, social interaction, and enjoyment in life.

Anthony Bradley

Anthony B. Bradley, Ph.D., is distinguished research fellow at the Acton Institute and author of The Political Economy of Liberation: Thomas Sowell and James Cone on the Black Experience.