Liza Meckler- Blog 1

What is the power of information? History is a good example of the strong influences communication technologies has on both the individual and nation-state level. However, history has come a long way and one is able to see the vast differences between today’s innovations and the pasts. One of the assertions that rose to my attention this week was the statement that there is the assumption that information can do harm to nation states. This was brought up after discussing the example of Google.

Google, which just started as a research project by two Stanford University students, now runs over one million data servers and processes over a billion search request each day.  Since the first Google search engine emerged, a lot has changed. They expanded to dozens of services and have thousands of employees all over the world, which has led to an expansion of many projects and partnerships; But most of all, this expansion has led to enormous power.

Currently, Google brings up the prevalent issue of privacy. The power of information-knowledge is vast and can be seen as dangerous and very influential.  Even Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google stated in 2009,

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines — including Google — do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.”(http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/12/07/schmidt_on_privacy/)

This assertion exemplifies the power of Google, not only as a powerful company but that Google can act as its own agency. Google is making decisions for itself, not for a specific nation. We are in a whole new ballpark, and brings about many new questions. Just like declarations were made about human rights and torture, should a declaration of information privacy also be made?

I am not sure what my answer would be. On the one hand, I don’t like how much information is known about myself, or loved ones; But in terms of safety, I do like that information can be found to prevent certain devastations (Terrorist acts). I feel like this statement though makes me seem like a shallow American–What about all those whose chance of free speech is being taken away because Google is giving away their information?  How much privacy is necessary, and can certain acceptations be made?

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About inteltakeover

This blog is written and maintained by of a group of graduate students in the International Communication program at American University's School of International Service.
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