The Wall Street Journal just published a short interview with me about my story Scroogled, which appears in Radar this month. It’s a commissioned piece where the brief was, “Write a story about the day Google turned evil,” and it’s the first Creative Commons-licensed story to appear in Radar Magazine.
WSJ.com: Are there signs of that at Google? Are they doing something that concerns you?
Mr. Doctorow: Sure, absolutely, there have been lots of signs of that. I mean, one of the things that I think is in Google’s DNA is a real tension about, on the one hand, being good to people, but on the other hand, acquiring as much information about them as they can, under the rubric that it allows them to be better to people.
And it does, a lot of the time. There are lots of ways in which Google knowing more about you makes Google better for you. But without much regard to what’s happening in the world around us, in an era in which the national security apparatus has turned into a kind of lumbering, savage, giant toddler, it behooves us to not leave things within arm’s reach that it might stick in its mouth. And that includes things like my search history. And I’d prefer that Google not be storing a lot of that stuff, especially today, especially after Patriot [Act] and so on. They’re inviting abuse, I think, by doing that. The steps you don’t save can’t be subpoenaed. And by saving them, Google is inviting a subpoena.
So Google’s always had this kind of “We will collect all your information, and it will belong to us, and you won’t be able to take it away, but it’s OK because we’ll only do good things for you” attitude, and that’s a bit of a problem.
Update: Hervé Le Crosnier and C and F Editions have translated the story into French and put the translation online under the same Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.