Blackspot

Can We Unclick Google?

A challenge to activists of the twenty-first century: how can we effectively fight back against Google's violation of our online privacy?

In a blog post earlier this week, I proposed an activist solution to Google's announcement that they would expand their tracking of users. In a post entitled unClick Google, I suggested that we undermine Google's business model, and their justification for creating behavioral profiles of the websites we frequent, by using a Firefox plugin to automatically click on all the Google AdSense ads. In so doing, I released a storm of debate over the possibility of forcing Google to adopt a pro-privacy corporate policy.

Google is a massive data warehouse that most internet users share personal information with, knowingly or not, every time they open a web browser. As many readers pointed out, even Adbusters utilizes Google's services on our website. Since 2007 we have relied on Google Analytics to analyze our website traffic. And by doing so we have shared our website statistics with Google.

The primary critique we heard of the idea I put forward was that Google's AdSense system has accomplished a "democratization of advertisers" by bringing many small shop owners into the business of placing online ads. Therefore, our plan to click on ads without viewing them, struck many people as harmful to the very people we want to help -- small, local businesses.

For others, the solution to rampant online advertising and Google tracking lies in a technological, not activist, praxis. They proposed that we use Firefox and install Adblock Plus which removes advertisements or NoScript which block trackers. Others pointed towards the ability to "opt-out" of Google's behavioral profiling by installing a piece of Google software in their browser. Or maybe we should all use alternatives to Google like Scroogle and Clusty.

The most important question that this tussle with Google raises is whether a fight against Google is even possible. Or is Google too big, too intertwined in the fabric of the internet, to be critiqued and forced to bow to our collective protest?

Clearly we are in a new era of activism and there are not any proven tactical answers. But one thing is clear: Google may be the culturejammer's toughest adversary yet.

Weigh in below and let's work together to build a strategy to jam Google and reclaim our online privacy.

Micah White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters Magazine and an independent activist. He is writing a book on the future of activism. www.micahmwhite.com

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95 comments on the article “Can We Unclick Google?”

Displaying 81 - 90 of 95

Page 9 of 10

rowan.b.m

You're kidding? I just deleted my hotmail account and got gmail. That's ludicrous. Does anyone know an email program that's not hotmail or gmail?

rowan.b.m

You're kidding? I just deleted my hotmail account and got gmail. That's ludicrous. Does anyone know an email program that's not hotmail or gmail?

Barry

I personally don't care if Google tracks my web habits. I love Google apps, maps, email and messenger. The stuff just works. Not only that, but if and when my current cell phone dies I will almost definitely be buying the new Google phone. I don't visit sites that I am ashamed or embarrassed of and I don't engage in illegal activity on-line. Who cares if Google knows and/or profits from knowing that the first site I check every day is Gmail, the second is BBC world news, and the third is Guerrilla News? Who cares? Not me. What exactly is it that you guys do on line that you are so worried about being made public? I don't think this is a problem with Google. All they do is consistently produce the best possible products. I think the real problem is that all of you fanboys are spending too much time looking for naked pictures of Britney Spears, and not enough time being a part of a real solution to a real problem. What if instead of keeping up on Paris Hilton you became a Guerrilla Gardener? What if instead of spending all day in Half-Life you organized a sit-in protest at your local Starbucks? What if you started a letter writing campaign fighting the building of yet another Super-Walmart instead of updating your MySpace page every 20 minutes? What if...

Barry

I personally don't care if Google tracks my web habits. I love Google apps, maps, email and messenger. The stuff just works. Not only that, but if and when my current cell phone dies I will almost definitely be buying the new Google phone. I don't visit sites that I am ashamed or embarrassed of and I don't engage in illegal activity on-line. Who cares if Google knows and/or profits from knowing that the first site I check every day is Gmail, the second is BBC world news, and the third is Guerrilla News? Who cares? Not me. What exactly is it that you guys do on line that you are so worried about being made public? I don't think this is a problem with Google. All they do is consistently produce the best possible products. I think the real problem is that all of you fanboys are spending too much time looking for naked pictures of Britney Spears, and not enough time being a part of a real solution to a real problem. What if instead of keeping up on Paris Hilton you became a Guerrilla Gardener? What if instead of spending all day in Half-Life you organized a sit-in protest at your local Starbucks? What if you started a letter writing campaign fighting the building of yet another Super-Walmart instead of updating your MySpace page every 20 minutes? What if...

Wiki World

Has anyone else been using Wikipedia more and more, where previously you would have used google? I find myself using Wikipedia for maybe 50% of my info lookups these days - it's faster, way more balanced and comprehensive than 90% of webpages (for any given topic), and has no crackpots. Google gives ya the crackpot pages if they're popular enough. Wikipedia's search is google coupled with an editor. Indeed, imagine the web with an editor? (And Privoxy {a local proxy} + FF + NoScript helps)

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