Monday, 9 December 2013
I awoke this morning to news that the likes of Google are protesting vigorously over state surveillance of online communications. Fair enough - but hang on a minute, I thought. I'm a Googlemail user, and every time I open my inbox (why does that phrase always sound faintly indecent - or is it just me?) I am confronted with ample evidence of Google's relentless surveillance of my supposedly private correspondence. Not that I particulary mind, but those ads that keep popping up all over the page are clearly triggered by supposed clues gleaned from my emails. Sometimes they're vaguely appropriate (though there's never yet been one I've picked up on), sometimes they're comically wide of the mark. Today's clutch has included familiar 'are you owed money?' messages from banks, Are You Writing A Book? (go away), Mezzanine Flooring (where did that come from?), Shipping to Malaysia (??) and Grit Bins. Hmm. To raise the tone, I sent a mail to myself asking where I could buy a Lamborghini (not that I would, even if I drove). Straight away I got an exclusive invitation to the Armani private sale (not that I would...). Clearly Google are using much the same kind of surveillance technology as the State; the difference is that they can't claim they're doing it to keep us safe - they're doing it to flog us stuff.