Google

Google The Conqueror

The open web is dying. Corporations are moving, almost silently, across the landscape, tweaking pieces here and there, closing doors and setting up walls. Chief among them is Google. The once proud standard-bearer of openness and standards, now a hunched, twisted reflection of itself. “Don’t be Evil”, it’s one-time motto, now a mocking phrase with a Wikipedia-esque “[Citation Needed]” attached to it.

Google has, by and large, won. The vast majority of browsers run some version of it’s Blink engine. Even that is an almost prophetic echo back to when they forked the WebKit engine from Apple; breaking compatibility. Now they forge forward, ignoring standards, intentionally breaking or slowing competitors down in whatever way is most effective while also giving them sufficient cover.

They publish new formats and standards, like WebM/WebP and SPDY in the name of speed and efficiency, when in reality they’re just looking to push the discourse of the web deeper into their own territory, where they can control more aspects. They offer free tools, like Public DNS to beleaguered Internet users trying to escape out of the, somehow even worse, ISP experience. CDNs to developers and website operators promising faster user access and lower bandwidth bills for the small price of adding further tracking methods to their already frighteningly powerful panopticon of surveillance tools.

People eat it up, too. Free email, office, calendars, contacts, voice chat, search and a whole raft of other services? All I need to do is sign up and agree to let you paw through everything I do? It sounds too good to be true! Tie it all in with your cheap smartphone and ChromeBook, also powered by their tools, and suddenly you’re enjoying the connected life with all of this sweet stuff. All it cost you was your privacy. Haven’t you heard, though? Privacy is dead. Besides, I’ve got nothing to hide…

A picture of Google's Activity History for a random account

De-Google

Today starts a new day. After 15 years of having an old Google Account, through the closure of so many applications (some more useful than others), I’ve finally shed my Google Account. This was following several days of planning, reconnaissance and account cleanup to ensure that I wasn’t going to hamstring myself by doing it. I waited for several more days to see if Google’s Takeout tool would provide me with a final dump of everything, but alas, it took longer than I have patience for.

I have to say, it feels a little freeing, a little nerve wracking and a little anti-climactic. Deletion of the account was fast, almost too fast. I do feel good that I am no longer feeding my information Google directly, and I’m doing what I can to block side-channel attempts at collecting my information. I know it’s not entirely possible, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

Going forward, I think I’m going to be much more cautious with my account creation. Services should be carefully considered before signing up, and only if self-hosting or securing is deemed too difficult or time-consuming to do so. Owning your data should be more important than the convenience aspect.

A picture of a list of various projects Google has killed off over the years
Goodbye, Google