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Scotland on Sunday England the Observer Google, Apple and Facebook

By Colin Grant

June 17, 2012 | 4 min read

Three weeks ago I wrote about an excellent Sunday Times article which described how Google is stealing our secrets.

Today the same paper digs deeper into the worldwide web of deceit and provides evidence of similar covert activity being carried out by Apple and Facebook.

The unsuspecting victims of this largely invisible crime are me and you.

Under the headline: “How Google turned evil (and Apple and Facebook aren’t much better)” John Arlidge writes: “Don’t be fooled, the tech firms that run our lives are not as virtuous as they claim.”

He adds: “...despite their laid-back image, these tech giants are just as corporate, money-grabbing and venal as the old-school businesses they so disdain.”

He quotes Rob Cox, a leading US technology writer, who states: “Under the hoodies and the moral language lurk rapacious business people, robber barons, with the same profit motive that drives all businesses and a ruthlessness rivalling history’s greatest industrial bullies.”

So what has led to this social media storm and what have Google, Apple and Facebook done to deserve such vitriol?

According to Arlidge: “The charge sheet against the big tech firms is long: as well as pinching the private data of unsuspecting homeowners, carrying out creepy aerial surveillance and ripping off investors, they also stand accused of violating privacy.

“Each makes money by vacuuming up the digital footprint we leave online and using it to sell advertisements or market products. Hardly a day passes without some new revelation of one of them taking a byte too far.”

These revelations, and there are many of them in The Sunday Times, follow the recent news that the Government wants the police to have the power to spy on our emails and web activity.

This cops and bloggers row is also rumbling on and in The Observer Henry Porter writes: “The draft bill proposes to give the intelligence services and police total access to the nation’s communications data, including text messages, phone calls, emails and internet connections.”

He adds: “The crucial undemocratic element is that the monitoring will be done without the need for the police or agencies to apply for a warrant. No one will know the extent of the monitoring, its effects, nor the conclusions that the authorities may draw from the data.

“We should not let this bill pass.”

Should we be alarmed? I’m not sure. I think the snoopers are in for a very long, boring and fruitless search in the vast majority of cases.

I tend to go along with Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle who writes today: “I don’t mind so much the police knowing what websites I’ve been visiting so long as they promise not to share the information with my wife.”

And finally to the sports pages.

Euro 2012 has provided plenty of talking points so far. My favourite is the byline on an in-depth analysis of Ukraine’s chances against England on Tuesday in Scotland on Sunday.

The report was written by “Andrew Warshaw in Warsaw”. Try saying that after a few pints!

COLIN GRANT is a former journalist who now runs Spectrum PR, a Glasgow-based public relations and media consultancy.


Twitter: @spectrum_PR

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