Deconstructing Google’s excuses on tracking protection (Freedom to Tinker)

Blocking cookies is bad for privacy. That’s the new disingenuous argument from Google, trying to justify why Chrome is so far behind Safari and Firefox in offering privacy protections. As researchers who have spent over a decade studying web tracking and online advertising, we want to set the record straight.

So far Google has avoided the vitriol poured on Facebook. Why?

Will Antitrust Action Against Big Tech Resolve Anything? (Reason.com)

What will the U.S. do about Facebook and Google?

Some people would like to see the companies broken up. They propose surgical cuts: Facebook must relinquish WhatsApp and Instagram, while parent company Alphabet could spin off feeder products from advertising-funded search.

On what grounds? We know that bigness per se is no crime. Are these companies "essential facilities" that left fewer, more expensive options for consumers?

The problem is that many of these companies' products cost us nothing, at least in terms of dollars. It doesn't look like Facebook or Google have been lowering product quality, either. In general, there's a lot of competition when it comes to social media platforms and search, even if people choose not to use them very much.

Thieves of Experience: How Google and Facebook Corrupted Capitalism by an author (Los Angeles Review of Books)

Silicon Valley’s Phoenix-like resurrection is a story of ingenuity and initiative. It is also a story of callousness, predation, and deceit. Harvard Business School professor emerita Shoshana Zuboff argues in her new book that the Valley’s wealth and power are predicated on an insidious, essentially pathological form of private enterprise — what she calls “surveillance capitalism.” Pioneered by Google, perfected by Facebook, and now spreading throughout the economy, surveillance capitalism uses human life as its raw material. Our everyday experiences, distilled into data, have become a privately owned business asset used to predict and mold our behavior, whether we’re shopping or socializing, working or voting.

Zuboff’s fierce indictment of the big internet firms goes beyond the usual condemnations of privacy violations and monopolistic practices. To her, such criticisms are sideshows, distractions that blind us to a graver danger: By reengineering the economy and society to their own benefit, Google and Facebook are perverting capitalism in a way that undermines personal freedom and corrodes democracy.