Googless

Experience The Internet without Google

Googless is a multidisciplinary project focusing on the issue of big tech monopolies and specifically on Google as one of the most prominent examples. It is a browser plugin which reveals the omnipresence of tracking tools that Google uses to maintain its online presence and power. 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.

Background

Googless is a project exploring the utopian vision of the internet where Google is barred from constant access to our data. Like all utopias, it is an impossible reality, as long as current legislation continues to create loopholes which big tech companies take advantage of. Companies like Google are now able to go about their business as usual despite paying billions of euros in fines for unfair monopoly practices. Such precedence sends a message out to other tech companies that your data is there for the taking and the consequences are mild. Moreover, by obscuring their practices, Google stays ahead of the potential competition and laws that might limit their practices. Lack of transparency or intentional vagueness is a well known strategy to retain the power.

In response, Googless aims to make the invisible visible. Our strategy is to expose and explain the mechanisms behind the hidden trackers to retract some of that power. Forcing big tech companies to come out of the shadow is a long-term strategy and can be done in small steps. That is why our team created the Googless plugin.

Googless plugin - Our tool works in two ways; First, it identifies and exposes the Google services on any website that you decide to browse. Second, it blocks the site, informing you of all the ways these services are able to collect your data. Obstructing your access to so many sites that excessively share your data with Google illustrates the extent of the problem. Googless will make it impossible to ignore dangers to your privacy and the ever-growing influence of Google on the online space. Through the power of inconvenience, the plugin brings to light the trade-off you make every time you browse websites with seemingly harmless Google services.

More transparency equals more freedom - Our research has shown that there are no viable alternatives in place that would yield the same influence as Google's outreach and omnipresence across services. Realizing this, we adapted our core strategy which is to force transparency on Google. With more information on the actual state of freedom in the online space, we can create more space for creativity and ownership. We believe regular citizens like you and us should have a say in how the internet takes shape. If we decide to look away and continue to "agree" with yet another pop-up, we might just dismiss our digital rights for good.

Google Fonts

Percentage of the top 10K websites that contain Google Fonts:

41-61%

ReCaptcha

Percentage of the top 10K websites that contain Google ReCaptcha:

27-46%

Google AdSense

Percentage of the top 10K websites that contain Google AdSense:

28-41%

Google Analytics

Percentage of the top 10K websites that contain Google Analytics:

69-73%

Sources [1, 2]

How it works

After installing, Googless will block all websites with Google services on them but also expose the ones you might not have realised were there. 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".

From here on, you can take action - It is no coincidence that the fair and transparent internet we imagine is so hard to achieve. It is not the responsibility of the users to keep track of any potential abuse of their data. Googless hopes to generate engagement around the issue and provide you with ways to directly contact your representatives with all the necessary information about the importance of this cause. Using our pre-written e-mail template you can now message EU politicians of your choice and inform them of the extent of the issue, demanding action.

*[1] Our Instagram Adverts, [2] Website Unavailable Page

The Team

Ola Bonati

A service designer focusing on the human experience in tech and media. Working on creating inclusive, compassionate and exciting visions of the future.

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Timo Meilof

A new media researcher & artist working on the societal and ethical implications of various forms of new media.

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Kwan Suppaiboonsuk

A software developer & educator who tinkers with emerging technology and explores how they can be better designed to augment society.

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Fred Wordie

A critical designer & artist who's work explores how we engage with technology, corporations and each other.

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