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Is Chrome OS Too Orwellian Or Big Brother-ish?

By Chris Parsons / August 13, 2009 / Tags:

We’ve talked and complained about Google on many other occasions within this blog, but with many discussions of Google also comes discussions of privacy, and the fact that Google aims to distribute an operating system should be no different – that is to say, not only is Google open to almost everything we do on the Internet, but the giant will also be the only thing sitting between users and hardware with Chrome OS.

“Let us handle your data”

I can’t be the only person bothered by this – Google Docs aims to own your documents, Google Maps wants to know where you are and where you are going (or even looking at), and now Google Chrome OS wants everything that you don’t put on the Internet.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, I swear. I don’t think Google tries to be evil (though they missed a pretty good chance), and I don’t think they sit there all sweaty and peering at all the private data they collect from users. But they do have it, don’t they?

And now with Chrome OS atop your hardware and Chrome (the browser) atop Chrome OS, you can give everything you do within the OS userspace sandbox a nice, fat red Google stamp across it.

How “sandboxed” the Chrome OS environment is has yet to be seen, but if it fits the netbook idealogy then there won’t be very much done outside of the Chrome browser and/or user environment (possibly iGoogle?)

The Largest Violator of Privacy…

…is almost always the user. People like myself realize the dangers of your information exchanging too many hands, but 90% of people do not, and will freely hand it over if the receiver has a shiny appeal and a trusted name (like, say, “Google“).

Chrome OS will be no different, just with a more streamlined way of going from hardware -> boot -> Internet -> Google for the information exchange.

And there’s no doubt that, with Google controlling the entire GUI layout and design, there will be a heavy slant towards Google Docs and other products to take the place of Word etc. for the new netbook.

While this will undoubtedly appeal highly to users, the exchange of so much information into the hands of one entity will trouble many concerned about privacy on the Web (such as myself).

Final Notes

I know Google isn’t evil (at least 90% sure). But the very fact that Google owns so much information about users along with a history of sharing it with other entities (including governments), it is troublesome. Not to mention the fact that they own doubleclick.net.

It worried me even before the giant was behind every bit of software running on my hardware (I like netbooks), and it troubles me even more so now. If Google, say, was ever compromised on a large scale, could you imagine just how devastating that would be to the general population?

Just some thoughts on the privacy concerns introduced along with Chrome OS.