There is a new message moving through riseup.net. to warn internet users about the evils of Google, Facebook and Paypal. They encourage the use of non profit Firefox http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/ rather than Google Chrome.
The gist of the email is that the corporate interests are using our information for marketing. "Email companies such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. offer great free services, but in exchange, they sell all information sent through their service (through emails, passwords, attachments, etc) to top marketing firms around the world, who then use this information to bombard and pollute our lives and the world with GARBAGE."
However, I am skeptical of the evils of the internet data. - Isn't it possible that if we collect enough data on spending and activities we begin to learn a lot about who we are? - With the steering of the MDG and well intentioned governments, activist groups and NGOs, it could be that the data gathered through the internet can help us to make the world a better place.
See GapMinder.org for more on the amazing power and potential good of statistics.
The internet is possibly the biggest thing humans have come up with since religion and it might soon become smart. Maybe we can use that smartness to make real positive change - groups like Avaaz, EnvironmentAmerica and 350.org (today's victory with the Keystone pipeline is a great example of the power of good use of the internet) and the collective organization and networking of riseup.net and couchsurfing.org are all examples of how the internet is making big positive changes, transforming lives!
As Al Gore pointed out with his Internet 2.0 idea the internet can also be a tool for good. The internet is helping the environmental and social justice movements in a HUGE way!
In the late 1990s and early 2000s we were networking through the post. It was expensive and slow. I was getting a few bits of mail a year from many organizations with as many as one a week from the well funded groups like Habitat for Humanity, WWF and Greenpeace. I signed the petitions and sent what little money I could to support the campaigns.
Today I am informed about issues as I sit at my morning coffee... Sometimes I sign a few petitions a day and make donations (still small but) on a regular basis to all the movements I feel strongly about..
So I would ask riseup.net of they are being properly precautionary or paranoid. Is the internet really a problem or could it be a boon‽