After our small demonstration against Kevin Rose in San Francisco, numerous critics have claimed that we have not presented a rational or coherent argument against Google. Although our objective is grander than simply exposing Google, we will respond to the critics nevertheless. In the hopes of clarifying our position and erasing any doubts they may have, we present the following five points. Keep in mind that we only represent one group of the Counterforce and are speaking only for ourselves.
Google has access to a tremendous amount of data. No one outside Google knows what is being done with that data. Google is eager to inform us of the benevolent usages of this data. The language translator becomes smarter, the search engine becomes more efficient, and the digital rendering of our collective consciousness (books, documents, surveys, reports, papers, etc.) becomes accessible to all. With every input, Google claims it is helping the world to become a better place. But there is a vast and dark underbelly to this alleged benevolence. It is well known that Google sells its users data to businesses and generates billions of dollars in profits from doing so. It is also well known that the NSA was able to steal much of this data from Google.
Brin and Page may have once had genuinely neutral intentions when they built their engine at Stanford, but those intentions are now a distant memory. Google is currently in the business of stealing from everyone, employee and user alike. Everything intercepted by Google is turned into a commodity and monetized. All the creativity that they capture, whether it emanates from a Google programmer or a user of Google services, is ultimately used to generate money. Over a long enough timeline, this capitalist logic can only ever dull creativity and retard it to the lowest common denominator.
As anarchists, we are against private property. Google is not, but it pretends to be. In its quest to digitize the collective output of the human species, Google has challenged numerous copyright laws. Its defense is always similar to our own: creativity, art, and imagination should be free. But there is an obvious difference between us. We actually believe in this idea, Google does not. Every employee at Google is locked into a contract, bound to keep his or her talents dedicated to Google alone. While they may go off and start their own business, everything they create inside Google stays there. But in the end, what people are taught to create in places like Google amounts to very little. The potential creativity of each employee only helps to build the vast and totalizing machine that is Google.
Free people, artists, rebels, bohemians, and the like leave traces of themselves behind, but these traces are subjective, visible only in real life. Our world exists in physical reality, grounded in our human connections, the emotions in our eyes, and the subtleties of the language we speak. Google wants to capture all of that, feed it as data into its machine, and figure out what it all means. Usually it means money.
Our murals are displayed on Google Image and thousands of gentrifiers come to live by them. These people are hungry for the artistry, mystery, and “exoticism” of our worlds, but when they arrive they do not have the eyes to see or appreciate what is in front of them. If our neighborhoods have a true community, the eyes of Google will not fail to notice this fact. Soon enough, the Google Search results will begin filling with reviews, recommendations, and real estate listings and we will begin to see the capitalist pillaging of our neighborhoods. This is what is happening in the Mission District, just as it also happening in West Oakland.
Google has designed its offices to allow for an easy transition out of university and into the workplace. Techies have never been known for their social-skills or tact. Now thanks to Google, its select employees never have to experience the world outside in all of its chaos, uncertainty, and violence. The insular experience of university life, with its cafeterias, gyms, campus shuttles, bouncy balls, deadlines, and lack of sleep, is all replicated at Google. But just as the “townies” end up resenting the Harvard or Stanford students who move into their neighborhoods, Google employees end up being resented by the people they have displaced from their own homes.
No longer is the campus shuttle taking these oblivious students to and from the dorms. Now they have luxury busses taking them to their luxury apartments built in the middle of our neighborhoods. They are oblivious to our concerns, blind to the damage they are causing, and fixated on the unifying goals of making money and building the Google. They are even trying to rename the Mission District. They want to name it the Quad. These overgrown children somehow believe that the Mission is the place they can chill between classes and meet other students. It is a truly pathetic situation. If they begin wearing their ugly face-mounted surveillance devices, otherwise known as Glass, everything will be that much worse.
The entirety of Google is an engine of repression. The federal government has used the Google apparatus to monitor, entrap, manipulate, and discredit political dissidents within the United States. None of this is new, but apparently it is already forgotten. Despite all of the corporate propaganda Google may release to obscure these truths, the Google apparatus has been and continues to be used to monitor the United States for any signs of rebellion. Beyond this, Google closely monitors its own employees until long after they have left the company. As Google grows bigger, paranoia will continue to spread inside and outside its offices.
Now that Google has purchased several military robotics contractors and invested in numerous private security firms, the paranoia we all feel can only expand. It is a documented fact that the CIA has used military drones as wireless surveillance devices in other countries, scooping up massive amounts of data from the land below. Google just announced it was purchasing Titan Aerospace, the makers of solar powered drones that can stay airborne for years. These drones will supposedly be used to beam wireless down to the earth, but we know better than to trust Google. They have already used their Google Map car to suck up all the data it encountered in the neighborhoods that it photographed.
While we do not yet have concrete evidence, we strongly suspect that Google is trying to create some sort of techno-totalitarian state, built from the components they are publicly gathering. Eric Schmidt, current executive chairman of Google, once said, “if you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” There are many things we know about Google, but there are far more things that we do not know.
It is no secret that Google continues to fund ALEC, the conservative lobbying group that is committed to denying the existence of climate change or, as other people call it, the rape and murder of the planet. Google funds ALEC so that it can preserve its ability to influence federal, state, and local laws in its own favor. ALEC is also funded by an array of business groups including Exxon Mobile and Shell Oil. These two corporations alone are responsible for untold amounts of ecological devastation and retain the services of ALEC so they can continue to profit off the earth. Google is just one among many corporations funding this group so it can continue to profit. One would imagine that with all of that data at their disposal, Google would have realized the planet was being destroyed. It would seem that this data is being ignored.
And there is a reason for that. Google and Samsung are currently locked into a symbiotic capitalist relationship. Samsung produces the popular phones that run Google’s Android operating system and other software. Inside Samsung factories, workers are sickened by leukemia and driven to suicide, often jumping off the roofs of their dormitories. Every day they are economically forced to sell their bodies to Samsung and set to work spraying deadly chemicals that cause nerve damage, paralysis, and cancer. Now that Google has dropped slightly in profitability, it is hoping to stay aloft through the continued use of smart phones by more and more consumers. Google does not care about the toxic-rivers, poisoned air, and ruined lives that these factories produce, they care only about expanding their market share and increasing the number of people using the Google operating system.
As anarchists, we are dedicated to ending the dictatorship of capitalism and the stranglehold it maintains on the planet. Google is simply another opponent in this conflict that has only just begun. We fight for the planet, for freedom, and for life. We are only a few of the many rebels who are building a new world today. Although anarchists have few resources, it should be clear that we will never stop, nor have we paused in our struggle. We have already given away too many good ideas for free, but rest assured that we are already building a free world. Capitalism is the reigning economic system, but it is so full of murder and slavery that it cannot last much longer. Anarchism is all that is left. We hope you understand us and realize that it is not too late. You can do whatever you like at this moment in time, and we hope you join the struggle to save the planet and destroy capitalism.