Why I'm Leaving Google

I'll admit it. I fell hook, line and sinker for Google's "We do No Evil" claim. I loved Google.com. I host my email accounts on Google using the hosted domains service. I use blogger.com for my tech blog. Google was my home page.

So what changed? I started to sense something wrong a few months ago when I started watching the ads in GMail. They're reading my mail. That's not a revelation of course. Everyone knows that. But the reality of it hit me like a ton of bricks. Some bot in the kingdom of Google is reading my mail and targeting ads directly at me.

I brushed it off. They offer the service for free. They have to monetize it. I even gleefully clicked an ad now and then to generate a little revenue for my Google masters.

But I just became more and more uncomfortable with Google over time. Adsense is everywhere, even on this very page. Google does business in China, and despite their claims of doing a greater good there, I just don't buy it. Evaluating profit as more important than ethics is always immoral. Unless, that is, you're a Google stockholder. Doing business with an totalitarian regime that suppresses human rights and free speech is evil by definition.

I understand they have to make money. I'd help them do it, if they lived up to the no evil claim. But they store my personal information without my consent. Sure, using the search engine probably legally implies consent, but don't you think they should tell you what they're doing with that data BEFORE you type something into the search box.

The Google Apps Engine announcement was the final straw for me. As a software developer, it looked attractive. A place to host a web application for free. Free, that is, until you reach a certain pageview limit. At that point, they charge. While I have no issue with that, given the enormous costs Google must incur in electricity alone, I do take issue with the fact that their API prevents you from using standard database calls. So sure, use Django, just don't use the Models from Django. You have to call the Google API. That means if it becomes more cost effective to host somewhere else, you have to totally rewrite the app to deal with a different database backend. You're stuck with a costly rewrite or a costly Google hosting fee. Monetization is one thing, forced monetization is quite another.

I'll keep my email accounts on Google. The huge amount of storage and IMAP are two things I just can't live without. But everything else goes. I'll encrypt my email as much as possible to keep Google bots from reading it. Google.com is no longer my home page. Nothing is. I'll start out with a blank slate everytime. I've removed the Google search from Firefox's search box. I'm writing a new blog engine and hosting it myself.

Just to be clear: I am not opposed to monetization. I am opposed to Google's operating against their principle of "do no evil." I guess their definition of evil and mine are two different things.


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