Last week the New York Times reported on a shocking admission by Google: the Google Streetview vans that had been trolling the world's streets for the past few years had been secretly collecting personal wireless information broadcast over unencrypted networks. Today, a less half-assed journalistic institution noted that this is nothing new, and we're all probably screwed. Google claims that this intrusion was done inadvertently, the result of an engineer's mistaken code, and that the data hadn't been used in any way. That's purely a PR move on Google's part, because as a legal defense, "it was an accident" is unlikely to let them off the hook. I tried to use a similar defense once, after an unfortunate incidence with some silk pants, a glass rod and the accidental shoplifting of several dozen balloons from a party store. And I was laughed out of the court room.
As Google is growing ever more creative with their data collection and probing of ethical norms, and because I understand that every single Cracked reader is constantly and obsessively cleaning their gun collection, I figured you would all be primed for a series of tips on how to foil Google from invading your personal privacy. Which they can apparently now do while driving by on fruity looking bikes.
Actually, with the addition of a leather codpiece, this guy is halfway to a pretty good Road Warrior costume
I attempted to contact several experts on privacy, but was unable to locate them. Below then are some simple tips on privacy that I just made up.
Enable the security settings on your wireless router
In this most recent incident, Google would only have been able to gather personal information about you if your network was unencrypted. By enabling WPA or WPA2 security you would make your wireless network much more secure. Stay away from WEP security though; I have it on good authority that it's about as secure as locking your front door with a really good knot.
Shield your house
Of course, even the most advanced wireless security may be vulnerable to an attacker with the hardware and nerdpower that Google has, so a physical barrier may be necessary to keep them out of your precious packets. Simply retrofitting your home network into a wired one is the simplest solution, but if you prefer the flexibility of wireless, you'll want to construct some sort of Faraday cage around the perimeter of your home to block any signals from escaping. Chicken wire, tin foil, gum packets, whatever will hold a current. If your spouse/children/roommates complain, sit them down in front of this article, and slowly read through it with them, screaming every word directly at their face. Make sure to open and close your browser and clear your cookies before you do so, so it counts as a new pageview for my stats.
Shred documents that contain personal information
Although Google has not admitted to collecting any such information, I would be neglect in my duties as an Internet commentator if I didn't warn everyone as loudly as possible that GOOGLE IS PROBABLY RIFLING THROUGH YOUR MAIL RIGHT NOW. You should definitely start shredding any documents that contain personal information about you or your haberdasher fetish.
Never give out personal information on the phone
Google hasn't announced their new password recovery database (Google Swordfish) yet but rest assured that they are creating one. So be wary of any unexpected emails or phone calls, asking you to provide your log-in information. This is called phishing, and I would be very surprised if Google wasn't doing this right now to swindle money from your grandparents (Google Limited Time Opportunity!)
Seal your garbage tightly
Use tight fitting garbage can lids to prevent Google employees from getting in to your garbage. Google employees have an excellent sense of smell, and food scraps will be sure to attract them for miles. Similarly, be sure to lock up any small pets at night, as Google employees have been known to mutilate cats.
Suspend your newspaper delivery when you're on vacation
There is nothing more tempting to a Google employee than the sight of uncollected newspapers piling up on someone's doorstep. One of Google's pre-alpha projects requires access to users homes to conduct a detailed assessment of the construction of and lingering odors present in ladies small clothes (Google Panty-Drawer).
Teach your kids about strangers
If you have kids or an easily suggestible spouse, be sure to warn them about the dangers of talking to strangers. Make sure they understand that you will never send Google to pick them up after school, and that if Google ever asks them for help finding a lost puppy, that the puppy is probably already dead.
Google has access to a variety of different civilian satellites to gather imaging data of every inch on the globe. To date, this has been used to build relatively benign features like Google Maps and Google Earth, but there's nothing to prevent Google from using this data to monitor your movements or sterilize you from space. On the next cloudy day, cover the roof of your home with netting and a variety of foliage that occurs naturally in your area. Mask any heat signatures with insulation, and park your vehicle underground, several miles away. When circumstances require you to walk outdoors, always wear a sombrero.
Craft a series of subtly different stories about yourself, and tell each one to a different friend or family member. When one of these stories about you reaches the front page of Google News
you'll know who the mole is. Although your first instinct will be to crush their larynx with your thumbs, remain calm, and realize you now have a way to trick Google with false information.
By the time you finish reading this article you can safely assume that Google operatives will have surrounded your house, leaving you only minutes to live. Remember that Google employees cannot be reasoned with, as the fiery hand of Draum'khak commands them to destroy all that is good in the world, and then eat your family's skin. Worse, the one weapon that can kill a Google employee, the Raspsabre, was forever lost in the ice wastes of Ymir millennia ago. Fortunately there is a way to slow them down. Open your front door. If you see a slender white man with glasses anywhere within a block of your house, charge directly at him--avoiding eye contact of course--and douse him with the jerry can of gasoline you should be carrying with you at all times. Then set him on fire. Repeat as necessary with other weedy looking white men, before gathering your family and fleeing to the far side of the nearest river or creek (Google employees cannot cross bodies of moving water). Travel to the kingdom of Nepal, where Google's penetration is not absolute, and where the forces of Man gather in preparation of the Final Battle. The journey will be long and arduous, and you will certainly have to choose to abandon some of your less loved family members along the way, based on the rankings of family member value that you should be constantly reevaluating at all times.