Silicon Valley: If Something on the Internet Is Free - You’re the Product
Always and Everywhere
The Internet is a wonderment. Perhaps the greatest feat of human achievement…ever.
Of course things like penicillin and the polio vaccine are wonderments - and amazing betterments of man. But they were rifle shots. The Internet is an omni-directional automatic shotgun. With benefits redounding up and down - in 360 degrees.
To name but one medical benefit: Soon doctors will be able to perform examinations, surgeries and other procedures…remotely. Doctors Without Borders…on steroids. Dedicated broadband connections will allow cameras and robot hands to be controlled by doctors…from anywhere. Delivering lifesaving care…anywhere and everywhere.
America’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs) - are the world’s leaders. They have connected the vast land mass that is America (it is much easier to connect tinier places). And rapidly delivered us from ridiculously slow 14K dial-up - to 1GB of lightening speed…and beyond.
And we are on the verge of the Fifth Generation (5G) wireless network - which really should be called Second Level. This transformation will infinitely expand our Internet - and our concept of the Internet. And deliver us countless things we can not yet even conceive.
Of course, these broadband connections and expansions - over and over and over again - cost lots and lots of money to make possible. We’re talking trillions of dollars. In Research and Development (R & D) - and then execution of the successful R & D (while making up the costs of the unsuccessful R & D). And it is the ISPs who are the ones investing most of this huge coin.
So ISPs have to charge you for their services. Shocking, I know. And in an Internet World where so much content from everywhere is delivered for free…the guy charging for the deliveries is bizarrely perceived to be the bad guy.
Pretend Amazon gave you whatever you want from their website…free of charge. But you had to pay for shipping. You’d love Amazon - and loathe the shipping guy. It’s human nature. “Hey, that delivery company is getting in the way of my free stuff.”
Think about all of this when next you hear of polls reflecting negatively on the ISPs making everything else Internet possible.
But of course, on the Internet (and everywhere else on the planet) - there is no such thing as a free launch.
Do you think Silicon Valley Tech behemoths like Google and Facebook give you free stuff…because they’re nice?
They got so huge and rich - by selling their product. And their product - is you.
Your digital data - is their money manna. Every time you use their “free stuff” - they are collecting reams and reams of data on you. Which they then use - to get advertisers to pay them to get access to you.
You’ve seen it - time and time and time again. You shop online for shoes - and then get ads for shoes popping up everywhere. You comment about a restaurant on Facebook - and you get local restaurant ads filling your screen. You send an email via Google Gmail…and the eerily-pertinent-to-your-missive ads ensue.
And it keeps getting more and more intrusive. Your Google Home and Amazon Echo - and even apps and features on your computer - may be listening not just when you call on them…but all the time.
God bless Tucker Carlson - who eminently gets all of this.
(Full disclosure: I’ve known Tucker in passing for about a decade. Enough that I’m fairy confident when he reads this article he will recognize its author. He is - completely seriously - one of the nicest men on the planet. Which makes him the Lord of Washington, D.C. Niceness.)
Carlson is a longtime well-known politico. He’s hosted numerous TV shows and written columns for at least two decades. In 2010 he co-launched the now-very-successful-and-influential website Daily Caller. And in November 2016, he took over the 8pmET time slot on the Fox News Channel with his Tucker Carlson Tonight.
On which Carlson has done a bunch of really interesting reporting. Including getting - and getting into - the Silicon Valley’s massive power-via-data-collection.
Last Tuesday, Carlson did a segment looking at some of the more disturbing of Google’s many new patent applications. How about some of this to warm your overlord cockles:
“In another patent application from September 2016, Google imagines how it could take control of your parenting - your relationship with your children. Google’s Smart Home system could detect children - near a liquor cabinet, for example, or in their parents’ bedroom - and infer that ‘mischief’ is occurring and deliver a verbal warning.
“In another example, Google envisions a hypothetical child called ‘Benjamin.’ Google’s cameras would be watching ‘Benjamin’ - at all times, carefully. They could see if he was playing outside or using electronics. Presumably they would use that information to sell them things at some point - because that’s the whole point of Google. The same patent also discusses how the Smart Home could coach families on ‘areas of improvement.’”
Given how the Sillicon Valley is run - with a phone app that tells you which areas to avoid to not step in homeless human poop - I’m not sure it is to them to whom I would turn for parenting and life advice.
On Wednesday, Carlson examined how much data Google gets from you via your Google phone - even when you would think they can’t. Reporter Brett Larson carried two identical phones - which were both intentionally cut off from the Internet. No data service. No SIM cards. And they weren’t set up to access any wi-fi networks. The only difference? One was on airplane mode - the other was not. Larson then traveled to various DC stops over the course of a day. How’d Google do Internet-free mining your data?
“It almost seemed quaint to assume that Google wouldn’t be able to collect data on me….I snapped a couple of bad selfies…but otherwise (the phones) have stayed in my pocket for the entire day….”
Larson then set-up a wireless network pass-through - which enables him to get, decrypt and see the data Google gets from the phones once he reconnects them to the Web. Ummm….
“Within minutes the numbers rolled in. The phone that wasn’t on airplane mode registered (121) locations, 130 activities and 152 barometric readings. As soon as it hooked up to a wi-fi - it transferred 300 kilobytes of data straight to Google. The phone even logged our exact locations - tracking us all around town. The Capitol (Building), the hospital, the school and the (National) Cathedral….It knows when I got out of the car. The metadata has a time log - right down to the very second. Tracking everything. When they think that you’re walking, riding and yes…even getting out of the car.
“Ok, so you’re thinking ‘This isn’t a big deal - I’ll just put my phone in airplane mode.’ Yeah - we thought of that too. This is the other phone…that remained in airplane mode the entire time….(It) actually logged more locations and activities than the other phone. And it also transferred hundreds of kilobytes of data to Google as soon as it was activated.”
Well isn’t all of that special.
Look - I am a firm believer in caveat emptor: “Let the buyer beware.” Even when applied to Silicon Valley’s “free” stuff - where you aren’t technically buying anything.
I don’t use anything Google - for just these reasons. Hundreds of millions of people choose to do so - and that’s on them.
Until it’s not just a private sector problem.
The Valley monster companies - have chosen a huge-government-political side. They are Leftist companies - helping Leftist politicians. With massive amounts of money - and with the massive data they’ve collected.
They were massive Barack Obama supporters. They got him elected, and in return received massive government cronyism.
They were massive Hillary Clinton supporters. The Valley bullet - was just another of the very many we dodged in 2016.
They support Leftist pols - all up and down the ballot. Over and over and over again.
This is all inordinately troubling for We the People and our limited government Constitutional republic.
When Big Brother has access to Big Tech’s Big Data - we have a huge government problem.
Big Tech supports Big Brother. Who then rewards Big Tech with even more Big Brother Big Government.
Big Tech then uses that additional power - to even more thoroughly support Big Brother. Who then rewards Big Tech with even more Big Brother Big Government.
Round and round and round we go. And where we end up - everyone knows.
Streets - and lives - filled to the brim with poop. And bereft of just about everything else.
This first appeared in Red State.