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August 11, 2014

Why John McAfee blames Google for privacy erosion

Security pioneer launches complaints website BrownList to channel anger.

By Jimmy Nicholls

John McAfee has criticised Google for what he sees as its damaging effect on privacy.

Speaking at the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas last week, the security pioneer behind the eponymous antivirus software attacked public complacency towards mass collection of data by search engines and social networks.

McAfee said: "Google or at least certain people within Google, I will not mention names because I am not a rude gentleman, would like us to believe that if we have nothing to hide we should not mind if everybody knows everything that we do. I have to take serious issue with that.

"If everybody knew everything about everybody else what would human behaviour become? We would be limited to the least common denominator of human behaviour: those behaviours which no-one would find offensive."

He noted that there was widespread attitude of complacency to data collection, and warned that if people were not willing to stand up "we are all lost".

"We’d rather be safe, secure and comfortable than actually live and get out there and suffer and see what life is all about," McAfee added. "I’m as guilty as you are. We cannot have intrusions into our lives and still have freedom."

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Alongside his comments he unveiled the new complaints website BrownList, which encompasses misdeeds from all areas of life, and is hoped by the computer programmer to channel people’s anger into something positive.

Though he told Reuters he planned on sustaining the site through business subscriptions, McAfee is also looking for private investors, having founded the site on an $450,000 anonymous donation.

McAfee resigned from the company that bears his name in 1994. The firm was bought by Intel in 2010.

Google has been contacted for comment.

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