Some of you may have noticed that Google went a little haywire yesterday, labeling every site under the sun, including google.com itself, as potentially harmful to your computer. (This label is usually reserved for sites reported to contain malicious code—think shady warez and porn sites laden with virus and trojan-laced pop-ups.) Drudge’s characterization—GOOGLE GONE MAD—may be overwrought (such is the Drudge style), but it illustrates a larger point: how smart is it to so heavily depend upon Google? How many of you rely on Gmail and Google News, to say nothing of plain ol’ search, every day? And to think, now Google wants us to store all of our data on its servers!
The cloud, a convenient metaphor to describe someone else’s server, and the storing of data therein, can be dangerous. In using the cloud, we place all of our faith in Google’s ability to keep its servers online, all the time. Say you create the best PowerPoint presentation, filled with evocative action verbs and the like, and store it on your G Drive. You go to work, launch your browser, only to discover that Google is down, taking your presentation with it. What to do? Why bother burning a CD or DVD, or moving the .ppt file over to a cheap thumb drive, when you can store it in the cloud, accessible all over the world—but only when it works!
Specific to yesterday’s problem, Google’s little malware identifier malfunctioning, it shows the pitfalls of leaving one entity in charge of protecting us on the Internet. It’s a nanny state mentality: don’t worry, netizens—how I loathe that word!—we’ll keep you safe from the online boogeymen. How about this, Google: you don’t concern yourself with labeling what’s bad and and what’s not? How about you search what I ask you to search, and stop worrying wether or not a site is “safe” or not? Leave my safety to me. If I can’t be bothered to properly secure my computer—firewall, up-to-date ati-virus software, and whatever else—then I have no one to blame but myself when I contract latest_trojan.
And, for the record, I’m not one of those people who freak out over Google’s respect, or lack thereof, for privacy. My life, such as it is, is crushingly dull, so if Google wants to store, till the end of time, that I’ve searched for Coeur de Pirate lyrics, or that I’ve recently bought a pair of rubbish Steve Madden shoes, well, so be it. What I am concerned about is so many people placing so many eggs in the Google basket, willy nilly.