Can I trust Google?

True, that it however the case for any cloud service where you don’t just upload encrypted files.

I just get annoyed at the constant attacks on Google, when Google has done so much to improve the world. Yes, they’ve also got rich off it, but we have benefited immensely.

I don’t quite get the logic. Because for other platforms it is also technically possible, that humans can read the content it is okay to give a false statement that google can’t read the content?

Btw, in case of mail providers there are some out there, which do exactly this, they build there systems in a way, that they can’t read the content. For me, that is the better world then the one google has build.

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I was using can in the sense of “is allowed to”. Sorry that i was unclear here. However, I’ve never heard of a Google employee being given the permission (and the physical means) to read a client’s e-mails.

The world Google has built is a world with hundreds of thousands of internet pages which just wouldn’t be viable without the money they get from Google. Google has also spent billions and billions on open-source software (things like buying and open-sourcing video codecs or developing the basic encryption algorithms that keep us safe online).

Without Google, the web and free software would be in a much poorer place.

You’re right! And this consideration is thus relevant for other cloud services too. :slight_smile:

I don’t want to derail this discussion too far from the topic of finding open&libre document readers/writers, so I kind of feel bad for responding. But I can’t help it, it’s interesting in its own right :grimacing:
I’ve been around long enough to know the times when AltaVista was the de-facto search engine known for high quality results, and Google the newcomer. Or the time when Mozilla wedged open the browser market and helped advance web standards with Firefox when MSIE 6.0 was both dominant and dormant, and only then did Google steam-roll over it them both with their fast JS engine and render engine. On the smartphone side Palm had an impressive answer to iPhone with their WebOS system, at least from a software perspective, but around the same time Google muscled their way into the market with their well-filled app store. Yes Google has fuelled progress, but I also don’t want to exaggerate their contribution. Other parties would have taken us to a very similar place if it wasn’t for Google.
On that note I think it’s fair to say that Google has done good and bad. Although Google’s track record (at least publicly) hasn’t been nearly as bad as e.g. Facebook (yes, Meta), I think the opaque, black box nature of Google’s data analysis operations combined with the knowledge that they have based a substantial chunk of their business model around gathering personal data is a valid reason for healthy suspicion. I for one encourage people to explore and consider the alternatives and have an open discussion about that! :slight_smile: (… and I’ll try to leave the accusations towards Google aside, because honestly we don’t know what we don’t know)


Yep, this is getting very off-topic. Maybe I’ll open another thread.


The official statement is that only in the non-free google Workspace none of the documents and mails will be scanned.

Whoever believes that may believe it. Those who don’t, don’t.

The discussion about it is more than laborious.
Also leads to no result or end.

The one who has recognized it for himself, draws his consequences from it. The others just not.

Who asks me in my environment to it, gets answer. I do not teach anyone. There I have no time for.

Very true. But look at what we do know. I can bring evidence to show that they were sharing data with Lin k ed In months, if not years before they tacitly admitted it in their T&C.

They spend billions (modern American usage, but still) on making their “free” services slick, because that brings in more users and more data for their Big Data Mill. In doing this, they regularly disregard technical standards such as those governing Internet mail. You can chuck just about any malformed MIME content at a gee mail inbox and it will render correctly in their web mail. Sure, the reader is happy, but I now hear devs and webmasters saying, “well, it works in gee mail …”. Bad, commercially-driven standards are thus becoming the ones people apply.

In Chrome, too, I’ve seen examples of questionable interpretation of W3C standards, where Firefox just shows you where you got your CSS wrong …

In short, I agree that Alphabet has pushed things along1, but mostly in the direction that best serves them, and that direction worries me. I’ve had an account since their early days, when I liked what I read in their “what we are trying to do” pages. Not any more, I’m doing my best to bail out, but it’s a sticky business … :wink:

1 [Edit: including their sponsorship of Android]


Can I trust Google?

The Stones knew the answer back then:

Sympathy for the Devil

Please allow me to introduce myself
I′m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man′s soul and fate
I was 'round when Jesus Christ
Had his moments of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game

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Google isn’t a human being, so can you trust a spade not to break when digging some stony ground.

Google is a business of making profit at someone’s expense as all business do. The many people that support google are just better at it than most other businesses.

So for some things you could invest in ‘google’ and see some personal gain, but it’s not human so do not attempt to make love and have children unless you want robots as family and friends.

Some may have sympathy for the devil, as the devil once had a soul: google doesn’t nor ever will.

I certainly agree with you there.

Where I don’t agree, is when you say

You pay, of course. No business model would allow you something for free. You just don’t pay with cash. You pay with something perhaps much more precious, and difficult to protect: your privacy - and all that, potentially, that entails.

There’s a quotation whose source is rather difficult to track down (it’s not blue beetle, anyway), which I paraphrase, if you’re not paying, then YOU are the product. More info here.


No, you don’t always pay with your privacy. Do you pay with your privacy for Firefox or Fedora or Ubuntu?

I would argue that you don’t pay with your privacy with Google either. No human being knows what you do. An algorithm decides which ads to show you based (if you haven’t switched it off) on your past browsing habits. That’s it. Everything else (“Google reads your e-mails!!!1!”) is just fear-mongering.

The world we live in has enough things to be scared of that we know are real. We don’t need to make up things to be scared of.

No one seems to be talking about the elephant in the room: without Google* the open web would not exist in its current form. Google’s business model means giving hundreds of billions of dollars a year to small independent websites.

Btw. “I can bring evidence to show something nefarious” just doesn’t cut it with me. If you can bring evidence, then do so. Otherwise I’ll just put this claim where i put all the negative claims about Google and HRC - in a pile marked “uncharitably interpreted and outright lies”

This is also an example of the exact anti-google gut response that annoys me. You get voted up for saying “I can bring evidence …”. So many people are just so willing to believe bad things about Google. The vast majority of cases i’ve looked into where Google has done “something bad” have turned out to be made of smoke and mirrors.

  • edited to correct a mistake. i originally wrote “gmail”
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I agree with you that without the big techs (and this accounts also for others like e.g. FB) the IT world would exist in a different form. But although some have profited from it I still don’t see any evidence that this IT world would otherwise be worse.
And I anyway dislike several aspects of those big techs and will never use Gmail.


What are the several aspects that you dislike?

oh, sorry, i notice i made a mistake in the part you quoted. i wanted to write “without google the open web …” not “without gmail …”. my bad.

i think big tech companies do a number of things that make the world worse (like the cambridge analytica story or apple encouraging greed). I’m a bit on the fence about Google. I find the comments section of YouTube to be really bad and the idea of showing tailor-made search results is on the one hand very useful but on the other hand it strengthens the echo chamber.

However my main problem with big tech companies is that they can use their immense resources to influence markets. Like throwing billions of dollars at the infrastructure for a messaging app or offering cloud storage for free. And they often do this to move into a new market or to protect their current market. In my ideal world these enormous hardware and infrastructure costs would be passed on to the end-user so we can see the true cost of the stuff we use.

How would the world we live in be different if every web page we visited subtracted a couple of cents from our bank account, rather than getting the money from Google (for example)?

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I think you already mention some good points.
In addition I also dislike the way they handle personal data (although I’ve read you see that differently).
I pay for using some webpages and for several apps. But I also run several webpages for free (and without getting money from Google) and I don’t see why this entire ecosystem should not work without Google.

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  1. But don’t you see the danger in collecting that data? Even if nobody at Google does personally know everything about you at the moment, the data collection does happen and makes misuse possible.
  2. The algorithms lead to advertising that can be dangerous. For example people that use search terms (or write e-mails) that show signs of an eating disorder get ads for diet products.

An interesting art project about this topic is Made to Measure


I’ll bring evidence as soon as I can but it will take a little time to make sure I’m not infringing other people’s privacy :wink:

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This is also an example of the exact anti-google gut response that annoys me.

And maybe there is the possibility that from the perspective of some people who disagree with you, your exact pro-google gut response annoys them.

No one seems to be talking about the elephant in the room: without gmail the open web would not exist in its current form.

And maybe, again we have the possibility, that from the perspective of the people who don’t agree with you this is just an:

Otherwise I’ll just put this claim where i put all the negative claims about Google and HRC - in a pile marked “uncharitably interpreted and outright lies”

You always state, that you know, that without google, the world would be in a much worse place than it is today. But you can’t prove this. And the opposite can also not be proven.
But what clearly is shown, companies like google, meta and so on are quasi monopolist that abuse their position. Again you can argue, that they did more good then bad with that. I think they harm the world more then they aid it. But what I hate most about it, they reduce the variety in the world. They limit the choice and they force this limitation.
I don’t have the choice, to browse the web without being tracked (google analytics, like buttons,…). I actively have to defend against it (ublock, umatrix, noscript) and nobody respects my choice of Do not track. Or google does not respect my choice, that I don’t want it to scan all the apps on my phone. If I open the play store, I always see one third of the screen with a long red text, that I should activate play protect. But I can’t even deactivate, that play store apps are not scanned.
If I make a mistake, I am being tracked.
Having a google free android is also a pain in the ass to achieve in general.

Living in a world were everything is tracked and collected and potentially used against me, is easy. And the big techs support this world, they make it easy to live in this world.
The opposite is hard to achieve and is purposely made hard to achieve.

I acknowledge the fact, that companies are on this planet to make money. I think to exclude them from social responsibilities and make it a free choice for them, to be social, is a big flaw. They throw bread crumbs and poisoned gifts in the world in comparison to the money the make and the harm they do. Unfortunately, from my perspective, to many people take these bread crumbs and say “thank you” and “how great this company is, and we have to be thankful” instead of critically asking, if this is just a distraction, to make them look good.

I see a much better world, that we could live in, then the one we currently have.


Let’s think about how a lot of the web works:

Google’s big addomatic-5000 says that it displays an ad about kittens to 10000 people who addomatic-5000 thinks are interested in pets. The company that produces that ad gives google 100 Currency-Units.
Google takes 30 of these to pay for infrastructure, R&D, employees and a golden toilet seat
The content producers (YouTube, websites etc) get 70 Currency-Units to pay their costs and buy a smaller golden thing.

If you stop Google Analytics the whole things comes crashing down. It’s your choice. However i would say that the small ma-n-pa web-page (to take an emotive example) that has Google Analytics running would be happy to get their share of the 70 Currency-Units. I’m not saying that what you’re doing is theft, but I don’t think it would hurt to be aware of the repercussions of what you’re doing.

You’re talking about what could possibly one day happen.

As i said: there’s no need to concentrate on what could possibly happen. There are reasons to dislike big tech without concentrating on what could possibly happen. And i think concentrating on what could possibly happen makes it more difficult to get the message across about what actually is happening.