Why do people still use Google services? (was Re: Encryption Rights - A Google+ community)

Seth list at sysfu.com
Wed Jul 15 00:21:40 PDT 2015

On Tue, 14 Jul 2015 02:45:39 -0700, Shelley <shelley at misanthropia.org>  
> I'm glad it's not just me!  That was my reaction too but I held back  
> from commenting, because I feel like I'm always bitching here about  
> cpunks or anyone interested in privacy still using google for any  
> reason.  I don't understand it.

I've come to the conclusion that almost without exception, people will opt  
for convenience over privacy and dignity.

Oh, in other news, Google has snapped up several of the new 'public' gTLDs  
(such as .dev) for their own exclusive use, yay Google.


== Google, Our Patron Saint of the Closed Web  

Lately there’s been a barrage of articles about how Apple is destroying  
the open web (because “app store, lol”) and it is Time Something Was Done  
About This:

     Apple’s paranoid approach to developer relations, and, I assume,  
relations with other browser vendors (and, in fact, relations to anything  
outside itself) is becoming a serious liability to the open Web. That is  
the issue we must confront.

Or here:

     Apple simply does not play well with other vendors when it comes to  
standardization. The same sort of things we once criticized Microsoft for  
doing long ago, we give Apple a pass on today. They’re very content to  
play in their own little sandbox all too often.

The answer of course is to petition the Internet Darling Google:

     In order to forcibly educate Apple to become a responsible web  
citizen, it is necessary to create a counter-weight; to find a company  
that will support the open Web and has enough market share to force even  
web developers who’d prefer to work in iOS only to pay attention to  
pointer events. That company is Google.

Why? Who knows. Maybe because Android is “open”, whatever the hell that  
means. Maybe it is because Google is strongly pro-net-neutrality, and  
Apple has made their customary “no comment”. Maybe because Google  
employees have blogs. The world may never know.

Meanwhile, in another part of town, Google has secretly been plotting to  
destroy the open internet.
It started innocently enough

Some time around 2008, ICANN determined we didn’t have enough domains. So  
they decided to open the floodgates on so-called “generic TLDs” or  
“gTLDs”. Stuff like .app, .ceo, .church, and so on.

Of course ICANN cannot actually afford to manage the day-to-day operations  
of thousands of new TLDs. So they’ve opened the process up to anyone who  
wants to apply. So you fill out an application, you pay $185,000, there’s  
a convoluted evaluation process where they ask you questions like whether  
or not you’re a drug dealer and whether you’re technically qualified to  
run a TLD, and after a lengthy and bureaucratic review process you  
basically get your own TLD.

It came as no surprise that thousands of applicants came forward in some  
kind of crazed internet landrush. Many internet companies are placing  
bets. Amazon made some 76 applications, and Google made even more, with  

What people did not seem to expect (whether due to incompetence or malice  
is up for debate) is what they would be used for.
Closed TLDs

Let’s talk about a domain that’s near and dear to my heart, .dev. Wouldn’t  
it be great to have a domain for content targeted at software developers?  
So that you could actually get a domain name for  
www.[your-side-project].dev? Instead abusing the .io domain which is  
officially for the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Alas, Google does not think much of that plan. Under their shell company  
“Charleston Road Registry Inc.” (whose “CEO” is merely Google’s in-house  
counsel), they have applied for control of the .dev domain, which they  
intend to be:

     completely closed for the sole use of Google.

In case you thought that was a typo, they elaborate:

     Second-level domain names within the proposed gTLD are intended for  
registration and use by Google only, and domain names under the new gTLD  
will not be available to the general public for purchase, sale, or  
registration. As such, Charleston Road Registry intends to apply for an  
exemption to the ICANN Registry Operator Code of Conduct as Google is  
intended to be the sole registrar and registrant.

In case you believe Google is drunk and they meant to apply for some  
other, more Google-specific string, instead of claiming some kind of  
monopoly over software development in its entitreity, they helpfully  
clarify that no, they know exactly what they are doing:

     The proposed gTLD will provide Google with direct association to the  
term ʺdev,ʺ which is an abbreviation of the word, ʺdevelopment.ʺ The  
mission of this gTLD, .dev, is to provide a dedicated domain space in  
which Google can enact second-level domains specific to its projects in  
development. Specifically, the new gTLD will provide Google with greater  
ability to create a custom portal for employees to manage products and  
services in development.

I will not bore you with the full application, which is 48 pages and  
includes such ridiculous details as how Google will respond to abuse  
claims from itself, and how it will handle disputes from itself if Google  
files a complaint with Google about Google’s registration of a domain  
name. Nor will I bother you with the other 100 applications for the other  
100 TLDs, which are probably similar but I haven’t read all of them  
because it’s a Friday night and I have plans, so don’t shoot me if it  
turns out some of them are more evil than others. But it’s all in there,  
if you are looking for background material for your next Kafka novel.

Update: Somebody did the math. Google wants 27 of them.
The backlash begins

I know what you’re thinking. “What backlash? I’ve never heard about this.”  
It turns out that Google’s behavior has annoyed a lot of domain name  
people. But you haven’t heard about it because you don’t hang out with  
scummy fly-by-night domainers who run SEO seminars.

Nonetheless, there is plenty of buzz about this in those circles. (I can’t  
believe I just gave them a link.)

Governments have also gotten upset too, although you wouldn’t know cause  
you don’t read boring government reports. The Government of Australia, in  
particular, has been instrumental in trying to block these proposals.

     in late 2012 the Australian Government issued 129 early warnings to  
applicants of strings which raised a number of concerns, including where  
the applicant was seeking to have exclusive use of a generic term. ICANN’s  
Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) subsequently provided advice to the  
ICANN Board at its Beijing meeting in April 2013, which included a  
recommendation relating to generic terms, and a non-exhaustive list of  
generic terms for the Board’s immediate consideration.

In response to this controversy, ICANN decided to take a breather and  
think about if this whole “closed” domain thing was a good idea after all.
Google doubles down

In response to this criticism, Google backed off on what was clearly an  
overreach designed to wrest control over the future of the Internet. Haha,  
just kidding.

Instead, Google CIO Ben Fried wrote what I’m pretty sure is the most  
brazen, jaw-dropping attack on an open Internet that has ever been  
publicly published by the executive of any Internet company. I mean, flip  
some words around and it sounds like you’re reading Comcast’s position  
against Net Neutrality.

You should read the entire letter, but here are some highlights.

Google opens with a “how-is-this-not-a-parody” argument that owning a TLD  
and not allowing anyone else to use it “lead[s] to diversified consumer  

     Today, most Internet users have only one practical choice when it  
comes to how their TLDs are managed: a completely unrestricted model  
environment in which any registrant can register any name for any purpose  
and use it as they see fit.

It’s sort of like how North Korea promotes choice because what if some  
people want to choose a totalitarian regime.

They then argue that DNS configuration is too hard and so we should just  
force all .blog domains to use Google Blogger:

     By contrast, our application for the .blog TLD describes a new way of  
automatically linking new second level domains to blogs on our Blogger  
platform – this approach eliminates the need for any technical  
configuration on the part of the user and thus makes the domain name more  
user friendly

That Google should be allowed to close TLDs because nobody will notice  

     Because of the strong user bias toward domains within .com, today a  
generic .com domain name (e.g., jewelry.com or book.com) is likely to  
produce more traffic and to be more valuable for a business than a generic  

That Google has spent a lot of time and money trying to buy these domains  
and if you don’t let them bad things will happen

     Applicants have read the guidebook and relied on the policies  
contained within to guide their applications. They spent considerable time  
and money on their applications in the hopes they would be granted the  
applied for string. At best, retroactively deciding to allow a more  
restrictive interpretation of the guidebook and at worst going back and  
“adding in” policy runs the risk of appearing capricious and eroding trust  
in the process.

Do you know what the consequences of not giving Google what they want will  
be? Do you? DO YOU? DO YOU ICANN??

     we must remember that changing the process midstream will have real  
and practical consequences for businesses and end users alike.

“Closed generic TLD”. Who even knows what those words mean anyway? I mean,  
you’d have to get a dictionary, or maybe (gasp) google it. Words don’t  

     In reality, neither of the two words have a contextually appropriate  
objective definition, and the combined term has no meaning other than what  
has been invented in recent discussions about the gTLD program.

Tell you what though. You know those 101 domains we applied for? We’ll  
throw you a bone and open 4 of them. That should resolve the “particular  
sensitivity within the Internet community” about Google closing the  

     Google has identified four of our current single registrant  
applications that we will revise: .app, .blog, .cloud and .search.

In conclusion

Is my conclusion that Apple should get a free pass for hamstringing their  
web evangelists? No. Get your Safari team a blog, Apple. Let them give a  
talk at a fucking conference.

My point is that if you think Google is some kind of Patron Saint of the  
Open Web, shit son. Tim Cook on his best day could not conceive of a  
dastardly plan like this. This is a methodical, coordinated, long-running  
and well-planned attack on the open web that comes from the highest levels  
of Google leadership. And we’re giving Apple a free pass? Pshaw.

Let’s get serious. These companies are both as good or as bad as we allow  
them to be. There is no hero here. In the immortal words of John Adams,

     There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic  
into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting  
measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is  
to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

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