by Anura Guruge
>> Google’s Balloon-based Internet.
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Click to learn more about Google’s Internet via balloon ‘Project Loon’.
Having tested the concept, successfully, in New Zealand and Brazil earlier this year, Google has signed a contract with the Sri Lankan government to provide Internet via balloon.
This makes sense. The country is small but populous, with very high literacy and most people not averse to technology. Nonetheless only 1 in 5 have ready access to the Internet. So Google in reality is doing the Sri Lankans a huge favor and honor.
Though only a handful will know this Sri Lanka in 1992 became the first country to officially sign-up for Al Gore’s “Information Superhighway“! I kid you not. At the time I used to joke that Sri Lanka must have managed to get a connection with the single 128Kbps dial-up link they had. I know this because the person who made this happen, as the then Sri Lankan Ambassador in D.C. was my adoptive father — who once a month had breakfast with Al Gore, his ‘neighbor’ in D.C.
But it appears that some Sri Lankans are far from grateful, let alone happy.
They fear that Google will spy on them and on Sri Lanka.
‘Spy’ is such an emotive and strong word. But, I can see where they are going.
I am 100% sure that Google will ‘data mine’ anything and everything that they can get their hands on in the data that passes through them. That happens worldwide. It is happening right now. I take it for granted.
Will Google ‘share’ this data with the U.S. government — which has a cursory interest in Sri Lanka in the overall context of the war against terrorism — or for that matter with other governments? I am sure India, Pakistan and some Gulf States probably would like to get some hands-on, G2 on Sri Lanka. Even if they don’t share it, Google probably might be amenable to selling some or all of the data. So the Sri Lankans are justified in their paranoia.
I just take Internet snooping, especially by Google and Amazon, for granted. But then again I don’t do anything that I shouldn’t do on the Internet. So I have nothing to hide.
But it amuses me to see the Sri Lankans getting so worked up about this.
Many of them that are ranting are too young to KNOW that Sri Lankans of my age were used, unbeknownst to them, as the guinea pigs for the new oral (sugar cube) polio vaccine, by the U.S., in the late 1950s. Yes, I was given the vaccine, multiple times, and I had no idea that I was being used as an easily dispensable, non-white test subject. Luckily for all of us the vaccine worked and we did get, successfully, immunized against polio. Consequently I have seen more polio in the U.S. than I ever did in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon).
Well being ‘spied on’ by Google is as far as I am concerned not as risky as having been unwitting test subjects for what could have been a dangerous vaccine that could have killed us!