Monday, August 31, 2015

Your Sins Aren't Original Enough To Make Google A Threat

Let's assume that the paranoids are right and Google is tracking everything you do on the Internet and they know all of the illicit and embarrassing sites you visit. Don't sweat it. As Matthew Kelly says, you're not that original. If they started using that data to blackmail or coerce people, they'd immediately devalue the information until it's gradually worthless by the sheer number of people all committing the same sins. By the time there are 150,000 people who've been caught visiting sports gambling sites at work, #150,001 is going to shrug his shoulders and go back to whatever it was he was doing.

Google is a threat? Meh. Your conscience pangs comes from inside, not from some Internet voyeur.

1 comment:

tim eisele said...

This is balanced by the fact that most people aren't worth blackmailing, either. If you're collecting information on 150,000 people doing something they'd rather not have anyone know about, you don't want to just willy-nilly expose all 150,000 of them. You want to pick the dozen or so who are going to be able to pay up, and then threaten just *them* with exposure. And if all goes well, nobody actually gets exposed, and you just get filthy rich. The devaluation only happens if a bunch of people refuse to pay up and get exposed, in which case your blackmail material was never worth anything to start with.

(or, if you're a government, wait until there is something you want that specific person to do and then use the threat of exposure to get them to do it. And again, nobody actually gets exposed at all if everything goes according to plan).

Just dumping all the information on everybody is a prankster move, not a way to make serious money or get big-time influence. And, like you say, the pranksters who do just dump all the data (like the Ashley Madison hackers) are just going to make people stop caring about particular common offenses, and end up making it harder for the actual blackmailers to find useful material.