Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler recently rocked the boat when telling readers to use Bing instead of Google because of a shortsighted statement on privacy by Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO. The discussion that followed Asa’s blogpost was interesting on occasion, but harsh and even rude at times.
While we’re all Google fanboys one way or the other and while the idea of switching from “Do no Evil Google” to “Monopolist-Micro$oft” can be a little bit unnerving, there is in my opinion reason to be concerned with Schmidts’ quote. My main problem is with this claim;
If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.
I don’t know about you, but to me Schmidt seems to imply that if I require privacy, that must mean that I have something to hide which is at least unpleasant and probably even outright illegal. If one accepts this premise, requiring (or enforcing, by means of encryption or anonymizers) privacy in itself is an indication of guilt?
Given that Google has too much data about me (being the avid Google-user I am) and given the flawed reasoning of Google’s CEO regarding respect for my privacy, I cannot but agree with Asa Dotzler. It is time to rethink my use of Google applications, although I’m not switching to Microsoft alternatives just yet. The general idea is simple: stop putting all my eggs in one basket, instead fragmenting my information across multiple independent organizations, hoping that privacy-breaching data-mining will be a bit less efficient that way.
I’m still looking into alternatives for most Google web applications (Serge is right off course; “with microsoft it’s easy, you can switch to apple or linux – the problem with google is that their stuff just works“), but for search I’ve decided to switch to scroogle.org. Scroogle is a not-for-profit secure (as in https) cookie-less search that uses Google (the irony). The site is operated by Daniel Brandt, the almost anonymous weirdo who’s also behind google-watch and wikipedia-watch.
To make sure my Google-friendly browser doesn’t accidentally direct me to Google search, I changed the following things in Firefox:
- On my “bookmarks toolbar” replace the Google bookmark with a Scroogle one
- Add “Scroogle SSL” from the Mycroft search engine plugin site and move it to the top of the “search engines” list
- And finally to make sure searches from the “awesome bar” don’t direct me to Google either, in about:config I changed the value of “keyword.URL” into “https://ssl.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/nbbwssl.cgi?q=”
So what Google property should I replace next and more importantly, what with? Any suggestions? :-)