Walking anti-trust case Google Inc. has taken a step closer to owning all your information with the acquisition of Nest. Google already has a monopoly on search and has also made major inroads into the smartphone and browser markets with Chrome. And now with Nest the Silicon Valley juggernaut will be able to develop and implement technology that gives real time data on all your activities throughout your home such as thermostats and smoke alarms – monitored, logged, and archived.
This total information awareness by a private corporation – email, search, street views, and now home habits – seems to be eerily and inevitably coming together to suck in all the private information from a person’s life and store it within one huge company that sells it to other company’s at a profit. Google’s recent push back against the NSA seems to be less about user privacy than it is envy at a competitor.
And even if roll backs of NSA’s authority occur will anyone rein in Google while it is throwing millions of dollars at Congress and presidential candidates?
It is important to also note that Nest is not just a smart device maker, but a company built on data mining users and uploading that information into outside servers or “the cloud.” That’s the corporate synergy between Google and Nest, they both specialize in vacuuming up user data and analyzing it for patterns using algorithms.
Rather than thermostats, Nest’s key technologies were described by Mr. Fadell in an interview last November as “communications, algorithms, sensors and user experience, running over a network to the cloud.”
That is, Nest is interested in how people behave inside their houses; the thermostat was just the first step to understanding that. Its sensors gave information about interactions; after that, algorithms on everything from user preferences to battery power were deployed to give people a sense of control they had not had before. As Mr. Fadell put it at the time, “we’re focused on experience.”
This poses an interesting question for privacy advocates – is it better to have a public, private, or hybrid Surveillance Society? Though it is important to note that privacy advocates have been taking Google to task for some time, though it seems with little consequence.