Question ///

How do you show how omnipresent Google is on our interent? 

Answer ///

Create a broswer pluign that blocks every website with Google Code on it.

Background ///

Googless is a multidisciplinary project, created during a residency at CODE NL-D, that focuses on the issue of big tech monopolies and the power they are able to wield with impunity.

Even though the internet was meant as a free and open space that gave power to the users, it has instead become a brewing ground for lawless practices by big tech companies. One of the most prominent of them, Google, has monopolized access to information, with between 85-90% of all online searches done through their search engine.

But their search engine is not all that constitutes Google's monopoly. From Google Fonts to Youtube embeds and Google Analytics at least 60-70% of the top 10,000 most used websites feature some form of Google Code that enables tracking. Not only does this allow Google to collect vast amounts of data (in secret) to power their giant marketing company but also gives them a huge amount of soft power to shape the internet as they seem fit. This power enables them to effectively control information and undermine free speech and access to information.

For example, ReCAPTCHA, Google’s bot detector, uses the absence of a Google Cookie as sing infer that you’re not human. Hence, putting up an annoying barrier for those who make an effort to protect their privacy when browsing online. Theoretically, with a switch of a button, Google Search could prioritise websites running Google tracking code on their websites and effectively hide many of the most privacy respecting websites from the average consumer. 

By revealing these trackers and explaining their role in Google's ecosystem, Googless hopes to influence how we approach our digital rights and to inspire those in charge of protecting them to take a stand against data hoarding and unfair market practices.

How it Works ///

After finding out about our plugin by word of mouth or via our social media campaign, users can install our Plugin on their browser (FireFox). The Googless plugin will then block all websites with Google services (Fonts, Analytics, AdSense etc) on them and as well as informing the user of what plugins were present. People who use Googless will quickly meet our "website unavailable" page because 70% of websites use Google services. The plugin will then explain in detail which Google services are hidden behind the interface and how they handle your data. It might not be easy to get around the internet with our tool. We hope that with the use of our plugin, you get to experience the extent of the problem and, simply put, "get annoyed into action".

‍We know that it is no coincidence that the fair and transparent internet we all want is so hard to achieve and that it is not the responsibility of the users to keep track of any potential abuse of their data. Hence, Googless hopes to turn the awareness the plugin creates into political action by giving users an easy tool to contact their representatives with all the necessary information about the importance of this cause. Using our one-click pre-written e-mail template, users are able to message their EU politician and inform them of the extent of the issue, and demand action.

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