The last year has tought us all some bitter lessons, the omnipresence
of spying and the loss of privacy certainly first on the list (and I
am still wondering how that can be made fit with the U.S. constitution and its
amendments. The right to wear weapons to defend yourself against your
government is just ridiculous in this context. Maybe it’s purpose now
is just deflection from the true problems. But I digress). Next are
ruthless companies avoiding their tax payments through juristic
tricks. What we as buyers shell out is hard earned cash, and we
pay taxes on our income. They don’t. And trickling down is – nothing.

Of course I as an individuum am powerless in comparison to both
governments and companies. But I can raise my voice and vote with my
feet. Which will, for 2014, lead to

  • * Less google
  • * Less Amazon

If a company like google is capitalizing on my data and not able (and
not really willing, sorry) to protect that, I should avoid it as much
as possible. So as a first measure I don’t use their search any more
directly, but only through intermediaries like startpage.com that
won’t track my activities. And I’ll close down my google mail account
as soon as I’ve managed to inform all my contacts. From blogger I’ve
moved away years ago, and analytics is replaced by piwik. Not much
loss here.

Now to Amazon: Living in the countryside, it admittedly opened up a
whole universe of new purchasing possibilities. Especially English
books are much cheaper here than anywhere else in Germany. But this
company, as many others, acts like a parasitical leech, shifting their
profits forth and back until almost no taxes have to be paid any more
in Germany. Which is not what I want to support. So in future I will
try to avoid it.

Leaves my U.S. based hoster, greengeeks.com: reliable and performant,
certainly giving me my money’s worth. But as a foreigner and with it a
potential subject of limitless spying on by the U.S. government,
should I really have my web presence in that country? I doubt so.


This was a long text, and I am not sure how many will read down to
that line. Now back to photography.

Instead Of New Year’s Resolutions

 — 

4 thoughts

  1. Markus, I identify with much of what you expressed here and over this last year I’ve also taken some steps to simplify and reduce my own exposure to being tracked and spied upon — not that I think anyone would find much interesting in my world/life.

    It’s such discouraging time with corporations and governments treading upon us the individuals and the basic principles of the free Internet. I’m discouraged about the status and future of the U.S. — from a corrupt political system, to a government spying up it’s citizens to a widening gulf of the economic classes it seems hardly recognizable as the country I grew up in.

    As far as tracking and spying on individuals, what we don’t know is to what extend the intelligence services of the rest of the world and global corporations participating in the same type of activity exposed in the U.S. I know this all probably sounds terribly paranoid — I would only hope it was. 🙂

    1. Earl, I share your paranoia. What the NSA does got known, what especially their Chinese counterpart does, not yet. (I’ve visited China only once and was overwhelmed by the sheer number of well educated and highly motivated young people – out of their sheer number it should be easy to recruit extremely effective staff for all kinds of missions, even more so with the clear concept of the West as enemy, that their political cadres still have. I doubt there are other countries that can be compared in terms of potential. So we have to hope for whistle blowers there, too.)

      That our individual life is most probably uninteresting we can only hope. But to know that your movements, contacts, communications are tracked completely changes the setting – to know that there is no privacy definitely changes one’s behaviour.

      Ah, I think we stop that exchange of bad truths here – I guess we sound like our grandfathers, telling that all things were better in our youth. I only wish all that were a bad dream and we could wake up from it.

  2. I stopped using Google’s service some time ago though mostly for the fact that they kept closing down services which I had invested a lot of time in. I don’t miss it though I still use their search when I’m researching white papers and various studies etc. There’s no one else that covers those searches. We don’t have Amazon in Australia (except for e-books) so that’s neither here nor there for me.
    With regards to privacy, that’s a different matter. I think it is safe to say that most of us, for the past decade or so, have been willingly giving up our privacy in exchange for convenience. I mean who still downloads their emails to a thick client where it can only be accessed on one computer? Who doesn’t use cloud storage? And if you’ve got friends and family spread across the four corners of the globe then Facebook is a convenient way of staying in touch. My guess is that we will all give up more of our privacy in exchange for convenience. It’s not difficult to imagine what such conveniences will be like. The problem of course is how some companies and governments take advantage of this. What I’d like to see is the complete absence of privacy on the Internet. By that I mean having it such that it is impossible for anyone (and I mean anyone at all) to be anonymous on the Internet. So if someone looks at your profile, their details get logged and is retrievable on request. An impossible reality I know but it would be cool.

  3. Cedric, when I started to use google’s search engine, it was not only the best but more or less the only comprehensive one – and in some aspects it still is. And as much as I love the search, I simply don’t like the fact that they know and use and sell (and get stolen by the NSA) all aspects of my privat life if I decide to use their mail, hangout, calendar, maps etc.

    For quite some time google was smart, cool, “not evil” (especially in comparison to Microsoft), but now they are pervasive. And even the metadata I allow to get collected there is dangerous if used for not only statistical purposes (btw. you know scroogled by C. Doctorov, I assume. My goodness this guy is so old fashioned, way behind reality…)

    Re. your demand for full transparency: I guess it’s already fulfilled, the results are simply not accessible for us. Oh yes, and I’d really like to hear George Carlin on this topic.

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