Today Google launched their new Google Fiber for Communities pilot project. The goal is to deliver super fast fiber internet connections to your home. But before you go dashing off to sign your community up for this service consider for a moment Google’s motivations for becoming an ISP.
Put simply, Google wants our data. All of it. Every last bit. What data is Google going to have access to if they’re our ISP? Well everything. At a base level they’ll have access to your DNS data, because your computer will by default use their DNS servers for resolution. This would be extremely valuable to Google as it helps them analyze our browsing habits and show us advertising we might be interested in.
For example, say you were doing research on cars. You visit a bunch of automotive sites, and some sites where cars are reviewed. Then you go and visit some financing sites to figure out how you’re going to get a loan for new car. Then it’s time to check your Gmail one last time before going to bed. Wait a minute, here in my Gmail I’ve got an advertisement for a car loan. How did that little bugger get in there? The email I’m reading doesn’t have anything to do with car loans? Well Google connected all the dots. You’ve been visiting car websites for the past hour, and they’re damned sure you’d click on an adsense link if it promised a low car loan interest rate.
Now lets take this data sleuthing another level. The ISP also has access to every single packet of data that flows in or out of your computer. What if Google analyzed every single packet? Maybe as you’re surfing the car websites you spent a lot of time looking at red Porsches. Google can inspect those packets flowing across the network, and programmatically determine that you’re looking at red Porsches. Now suddenly in your Gmail you’re seeing adsense advertisements for great interest rates on red Porsches. Damn that Google is smart. They knew exactly what I was after!
Now I’ve said before that Google could be very useful in organizing our information. Surely they could do a better job than Homeland security in creating a database full of terrorist information, and then making sure that data does its job at keeping us safe. But it gets a little scary when Google becomes the ISP, and suddenly they’ve got everything. It will be very interesting to see where this goes next.