AFRICANGLOBE – If your daughter is pregnant, Google will know it before you do.
If your boyfriend has an STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) Google will know it before you do. If a country is planning to build a new bridge or a railroad, Google knows about the project well before anyone else. If a company is looking for new partners abroad, Google will know about the project detail long before anyone else. If a group of activists is preparing a street protest, Google will know about the plan long before the local authorities will ever heard about it.
How is that possible, you may ask.
Simple. The first thing people do nowadays when they have an issue is to search it on the Internet using a search engine like Google.
Google records all your search keywords, but also use about 19 different checkpoints to make sure the search is tied to one single computer and one single person. If you have a Gmail account or Youtube account, you make thing much easier for Google.
How does it work?
If your teenager-daughter has her first menstruation, and want to know more about how to deal with it, she will go to Google to conduct a search. Now Google knows that your daughter has her first menstruation, before you’ll ever know.
If your girlfriend missed her menstruation for several days this month, and she is wondering if she got pregnant, she will go to Google and type something like “how to know if I’m pregnant”. From that moment, Google knows that your girlfriend has missed her menstruation and possibly pregnant.
If your wife is pregnant, and searched “I’m pregnant! What do I do now?” From that moment, Google knows your wife is pregnant.
Google then will add up your wife searches to any other searches on the same topic this month, and could reliably predict how many women are pregnant in a particular city at any given moment. This is also valid at a country level.
Google could reliably predict how many women got pregnant this month in France, how many have had miscarriage, and how many have gone through abortion.
When it comes to information about people, Google knows more about the life of the citizens of India or Kenya than the governments of India and Kenya will ever know. In one single click, they could have a picture of what a whole country is thinking, working on, hoping for, worried about, etc.
Now Imagine, the same data intelligence applied to companies and governmental institutions.
A Telecom engineer in Ghana is working for the government, and has been briefed on a governmental project to tax the local telecom companies not based on their self-declared accounting reports, but to implement national backbone routers’ data counter that will meter the data flow and exchange, and the telecom operators will be taxed based on the collected data.
The project was at a very early stage, and has yet to be discussed with seniors department managers, but our young engineer would like to conduct a feasibility study and seek for potential solution providers. He went to Google and conduct several searches on the topic. From that very moment, Google knows exactly what is going inside the Ghanaian Minister of Telecommunication.
Now apply the same logic to employees inside the Minister of Defense, Minister of Finance, Minister of Infrastructures doing searches on Google. You have a naked country, completly exposed to foreign espionage, because a foreign company knows everything about the intentions and early stages projects of the country.
No major country or any serious government could let a foreign company collects so much data on their citizens and strategic intentions and make them available to their government through secret courts orders.
Watch this quick movie excerpt below to understand what I’m talking about. (From Sneakers, 1992)
Google is not just a simple search engine. It’s the biggest spying tool ever created.
These are the reasons why China made it impossible for Google to operate on their soil and promoted a local search engine Baidu which has now more than 80% of the market. The same for Russia which did whatever possible to promote their national search engine Yandex which has now more than 70% of the local market.
China and Russian did the same for Facebook. The Chinese Facebook is called RenRen and the Russian Facebook is Vkontakte. The Chinese version of twitter is called Sina Weibo. The image below clearly depicts how Chinese have been very active to grow local champions in almost every segment of social medias to avoid foreign eavesdropping.
Not all countries have the resources to shield themselves from foreign espionage while using search engines and social media networks, but African governments are the most vulnerable, and have to take actions to make sure their employees are not leaking out information on national projects and strategic intent while using these tools.
There are numerous solutions available to help governments, but the first step is to develop awareness about the danger of search engines and social medias in managing national security.
By: Mawuna Remarque KOUTONIN