Editorial – Google says, “Sleep well!”

Jeff Burgar

A person tossed in a couple of comments on a news story about the new federal journalism fund last week.

I confess. It was me. Since nobody asked my opinion one way or the other, maybe nobody cared. I announced it anyway.

If you don’t know, our federal government plans to “help” print media in Canada. The idea is, taxpayers will kick in something like $120 million per year to help the 1,200 or so daily and weekly newspapers across Canada.

It sounds like much money. Assuming this newspaper you are reading qualifies, it might mean about $20,000 per year. Compare that to the $400,000 or so taxpayers give to our national broadcaster, CBC, in this same region.

Do we get $400,000 worth of news coverage from the CBC locally? No. But, many folks are up in arms about this new journalism subsidy. Oh, well!

Moving on to another topic upsetting some Canadians is Internet privacy. Last week in fact, an international committee held three days of hearings in Ottawa on exactly that. The big cheeses at Facebook were asked to attend and answer questions. No show. They sent a flunky instead. His answer to many questions was basically, “I don’t know enough of what the bosses are doing to really answer that question. Or that question. Next question, please.”

Naturally, the committee people were upset.

Frankly, they should have been upset 20 years ago when services like ICQ, AOL, MySpace, Yahoo and others were all letting any um, yahoo, publish online just about any piece of garbage any poster thought was a good idea. Trash talking online attracts eyeballs and dregs and is most of the reason for Facebook growth. The rules regular media has to follow are broken, with no consequence, every day by digital giants. It’s long overdue for action.

On that privacy issue, there was an old joke about computers. When a person asked, what is that little light that keeps flicking on and off on the front of the computer? Smart kids and smart alecs often answered, “Oh, that’s just Microsoft or Apple recording everything you say and sending it back to their spy networks.”

It was funny at the time. Now it is discovered Amazon’s Alexa does exactly that. Whether off or on it’s sending personal conversations back to Amazon. With no flashing light. Nice, eh?

This upsets some people. But consider all the data about you that Google hoovers up. The pickings are great. Gmail. Google Search. Google Chrome. Google Maps. Google StreetView. Google DNS. Google Android. So why the big fuss over Huawei and 5G? Google and Facebook already have you so identified, profiled and suckered in, what’s one or two or 10 more spies to the big party? Can it get worse if one more player gets in the game?

The truth is, nobody knows how “profiled” you, your family or your friends are, right now. Nobody knows, are you making your own decisions, right now? Or are you being manipulated?

And also are you being manipulated into thinking you are the sharpest knife in the drawer or the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree? Yep. Sure. Google says you are a smart cookie.

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