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Don’t Be Evil or Naive

lionposterWhere do you host your personal e-mail?  Your church e-mail?  Your Christian mission e-mail?  Whom do you e-mail privately, and where do THEY host their e-mail?

After this week’s announcement by Google that they do not consider your e-mail on Gmail to be “private,” I got fed up with seeing Christians, Christian churches, Christian missionaries and mission agencies and anyone else doing kingdom work simply falling all over themselves to hand their data to Google.  Whether it’s a free Gmail account, having your mission agency’s data hosted on Google Apps or whatever else, please be aware that the degree to which your data is being mined is sinful.

My own feelings are that this is going to bite the Christian church in the rear end in a big way.  I hope I’m wrong.  I doubt that I am.  I believe that somewhere in the future either an employee or the government or the company itself may take the large amount of data and begin to use it to do the following:

  • List large network structures of who associates with whom.  Why does this matter?  If you are a believer in a dangerous environment and you e-mail someone who happens to e-mail someone who is a “radical” Christian, you’re one degree away.  In some countries, this is enough to put you under suspicion.  In others, it’s enough to get you in jail for interrogation.
  • Display the travel plans or historical trips of Christians around the world in a way that connects the dots and puts the lives of believers in danger.
  • Collates the search engine history of some (or many) Christians in order to humiliate, intimidate or otherwise threaten or silence them into submission.
  • Flags for government review any search engine searches that are deemed to be unacceptable to the broader society (say, anything having to do with homosexuality and sin).
  • Redirects searches that are deemed unacceptable to pages which take the exact opposite view in order to diminish Christian testimony and thought.

“Sure, sure, that’ll never happen,” you may say.  Here’s a new mantra for you, “What would Hitler do?”  When the right technology gets into the wrong hands, bad things happen very quickly.  Who’s running the show over there?

I’ve heard Christian leaders talk about using Google from the standpoint of being just another fish in a big ocean.  It’s easy to get lost in the crowd.  Hmm.  Have you ever noticed that big oceans accommodate really, really BIG NETS?  Have you also noticed that large trawlers don’t seem to be found in ponds in North Dakota?  Maybe it’s safer to be a big fish in a small pond than it is to be a small fish in a big ocean.  It probably depends on who is doing the fishing.

Hopefully this post will make someone think — and take action to get their data out of reach of the big nets.

 

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3 Responses to "Don’t Be Evil or Naive"

  1. jc says:

    So, will you be removing the “send this article using Gmail” link at the bottom of these articles? 😉

    1. admin says:

      Heh. Well, considering WWG is a publicly available site, and since I want the general message of the Gospel to get out, I’m fine with Google indexing it, people finding it through Google or any other means and for people to notify users of Google that there is positive content available.

      But if that was the ONLY icon there, I’d probably chunk it. 🙂

  2. sb says:

    Great job on this article. Very provocative and so *needed* to be said. Large ministries need to take note on the dangers. I wish only that there were more solutions than alarms, more constructive criticism. Sometimes it seems that swimming in the big ol’ ocean as a lil’ fish is the only way to reach the multitudes … since that as opposed to North Dakota is where most of ’em are hangin’. One might question whether it is worth the risk? I think it is, but doing so as safely as possible without “throwing out the baby with the bath water” type of thing. Again, well written – and I guess the constructive criticism should be properly understood to “be careful” rather than to “back off”. Maranatha … come quickly, LORD!

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