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How the Government Will Destroy Google

No Florida specific angle today but I wanted to address the NSA data mining program and the impacts it could have on things we take for granted in the “connection economy.”

If you are unfamiliar with the connection economy, it is a term coined by author Seth Godin that describes what businesses like Facebook, Google, Amazon and this blog have in common. They all exist to connect people with specialized interests to other people and things that satisfy those interests.

In the economy of old, we exchanged money for goods and services. In the connection economy, we exchange information about ourselves for information about something else. I give Facebook a profile and I get connected with my friends from high school. I give Google a search query and I find the best website for dog training.

We trust (and trust is the oil of all free market transactions) that all this data generated by us and billions of other people is used for only two purposes:

1)      Sell ad space to people who want to sell things to people like me.

2)      Make their websites more useful to me in the future.

That is the business model of the biggest players in the connection economy, but it requires that our data is not used for any purposes contrary to our interests.

Google has an unofficial motto of “don’t be evil” because if the company is ever seen as untrustworthy with data, then its business model will collapse. If we no longer trust Google with our email and search queries, then Google has less data to improve its products and target ads. This means the value of ads on Google fall, and revenues plummet.  Good-bye Google.

For this reason, it is particularly heinous that businesses were compelled to breech our trust and handover our data (without a warrant) to an entity assuredly not seeking to sell us designer shoes at low prices.

More unfortunate, is that the entity taking our data has violated an explicit agreement that prevents it from taking our data without warrant.

I leave this post with one question: If we would not tolerate the installation of government video cameras over our shoulder to watch our online activity, then why would we permit them to watch our online activity from the other end of the pipeline?

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