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Noam Chomsky voices concern at Google’s role in the secret state

Simon Davies and Noam Chomsky at MIT, Boston, in Chomsky's office

Simon Davies and Noam Chomsky at MIT, Boston, in Chomsky’s office

By Simon Davies

The world’s most influential thinker, Professor Noam Chomsky, has voiced his concern over the amount of data being amassed by Google, linking the advertising giant’s activities with the growth of the national security sector.

The data flows generated by Google – and particularly Google Glass – went “far beyond anything that Orwell described”.

Professor Chomsky spoke to me at MIT in Boston today for the upcoming audio series The Privacy Channel, which is being launched by the Privacy Surgeon next month. Yesterday we published a teaser from an interview with General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and the NSA. I’ll do the same today.

During the interview Chomsky singled out the data flows generated by Google – and particularly Google Glass – as “dangerous”, and that they went “far beyond anything that Orwell described”.

Describing Google Glass and its ubiquitous information capture as “approximately hell”, Chomsky warned: “This device also has a camera and undoubtedly will soon if not already have a recorder. That means that anything that’s going on around the person will get photographed, and presumably recorded and sent off to the Internet.”

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt was also criticised. “Eric Schmidt, was asked by a reporter whether he didn’t think this was an invasion of privacy, and his answer was a slogan for the modern age. He said, ‘if you’re doing something that you don’t want on the Internet, you shouldn’t be doing it.’ “

Chomsky said he was concerned about the capacity of Google and other major companies to track and store the activities of users.

“In other words, every act that anyone is carrying out should be completely public. And of course not just public, but sent off to Obama’s huge database in Utah where the NSA can work through it and find things. ”

Chomsky said he was concerned about the capacity of Google and other major companies to track and store the activities of users.

“If you look for something – a search – on Google, looking for a refrigerator let’s say, you get a list of products, but they’re not listed randomly. The list is determined by the level of advertising that’s done, to put some of them ahead and some lower.”

“Furthermore they collect information on you. You buy a book from Amazon let’s say, they’ll say ‘here’s some other books you might like’. How do they know that? Because they’re following your habits. They’re monitoring what you do. Same with Google; same with the others.”

“Do I want a big corporation – whether what they know is right or wrong it doesn’t matter – to have detailed information about your life? Why should a corporation know anything like this?”