I feel there is an impression that institutions and corporations are actors for the will of market dynamics and the people as a whole. This view alleviates the responsibility of these actors and places weight instead on the shoulders of the people. It certainly is true that if the people want privacy over comfort they have responsibility but that responsibility starts in noticing when the actions of the actors are missing their queue.

The image Google has presented over the past two years is one that assumes that we have collectively accepted the post “war on terror” definition of privacy. From their former CEO’s declaration that internet users wanting privacy deserve criticism, to Google+ requiring new users use their real name. Critical Engineers have noticed.

The greater the dependence on a technology the greater the need to study and expose its inner workings, regardless of ownership or legal provision. — The Critical Engineers Manifesto

Google’s influence on humanity is certainly as powerful if not more so that any power structure in place. For example a recent study shows that we retain less memory due to the efficiency of Googles search algorithms. To not scrutinize their attempts to reshape what we think about digital privacy would be a mistake.

This week Critical Engineers won a small battle when Google said that they would no longer require real names for Google+ accounts, at some point in the future. For me, this one act is not enough. True there are plenty of corporations with worse records on privacy policy but with great influence comes greater scrutiny.

I’m sitting back-stage just before the premier in Frankfurt Oder of the Heinrich Von Kleist play we have been working on with Rimini Protokol and I’m trying to imagine what Google could do to repair their image. One example comes to mind: Google could setup a TOR exit node and sponsor a community project to allow exit nodes to subscribe to block lists that are maintained by the community. Or perhaps fight for our ability to choose how long you retain data on us. I’m sure there are other ways to support greater digital privacy. By all means, share your own. Until Google takes serious steps myself, and I believe other critical engineers, will not be able to forgive them for the past few years of assault on our rights.