Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Who do you trust more, Google or the Feds?

When I read about Google moving data out of China, I immediately thought of the amazing Neal Stephenson book Cryptonomicon and its offshore data/value haven. After all, is an alternative future where Google joins or forms such a place outside of the clutch of data hungry, civil liberty violating, privacy disregarding governments a natural step?

Ignoring the glib response of the "blogsphere" to this step, if you're Chinese do you use Baidu, the Chinese company that is completely beholden to the government, or Yahoo? I predict a nice shift of market share to Google on China. Sure they're used to censorship since this generation grew up with it, but why take chances when the stakes are life and death?

What if there were an offshore data haven, not of course owned by Google directly, but used by them to store our user data? Sure they would need high speed connections, infrastructure, etc, but they could encrypt the data, physically secure the facility and add a certain years long delay to any discovery attempt. Leave the business, infrastructure, IP and people in the US or wherever (moving the company out of the US for tax reasons would be evil, after all). If it's Google vs. the Feds, I know which way I lean. The Feds aren't trying to avoid being evil.

That's not even considering the Cryptonomiconian (forgive me) next step of securing a free currency with a data haven. Let's first see Google Pay before postulating Google Money.

So let this play out a few years and let's see how Google continues to protect us from the inevitably embarrasing vapor trail of our own online activies, but in the meantime all you have to do is read BoingBoing for the almost daily efforts of our governments to use our own data against us to start to feel this might be a good idea.


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