Google for it?

Dear Auntie, As a seasoned internet activist I regularly give my friends a hard time for using Google. Its 'don't be evil' motto doesn't seem to have helped Chinese web users, who now face censored searches, while its CIA links are well-known. Only one problem: I have a secret addiction to Skype. Does this make me a hypocrite? Activista, Gerrard's Cross, Buckinghamshire

June 1, 2007
2 min read

It’s a shame you don’t use Google, because searching the phrase ’tilting at windmills’ could yield some useful advice. Google can even be an anti-hypocrisy tool – in January 2006, googling ‘liar’ took you to Tony Blair’s homepage.

If you’re troubled by your Skype addiction, though, why not justify it as an environmentally-friendly way to plot international revolutions.

And even if the most radical your chats get are long-distance flirtations with anti-globalisation activists, there are worse things than conducting your love life on proprietary software.

To be honest, though, hypocrisy seems the least of your problems. First, you need to lose the tinfoil hat. The google-CIA link amounts to little more than an unproven assertion from ex-CIA man (and leading 9/11 truth-er) Robert Steel, and the fact that it purchased Keyhole Inc, a company that once received venture capital from the CIA’s investment arm. Keyhole technology now powers Google Earth, the best tool yet devised for activists to track the spread of secretive military installations: a pretty good case of ‘You taught me language; and my profit on’t is, I know how to curse.’

Without blowing too hard on the Google trumpet, it has at least blocked US Justice Department requests for access to its search data, and backed demands for ‘net neutrality’ against telecoms companies wanting to develop a two-speed internet favouring corporate websites. ‘Tis true that Google’s complicity in internet censorship is as unprincipled as that of all the corporations sustaining the Great Firewall of China, but boycotting it is hardly the solution.

You’d be better off turning your back on sweatshop produced imports that dominate and searching out some second hand threads on Skype’s parent site, eBay. Or, at least, try googling your way to some less po-faced activist priorities.