Recent events highlight the need for companies to continuously evaluate and improve how sensitive data is handled. Microsoft revealed that AI researchers had inadvertently exposed 38 terabytes of internal information since 2020. Additionally, Google agreed to pay settlements totaling $155 million over illigal location tracking practices.

Microsoft’s Monumental Mistake

Just last week, TechCrunch disclosed that Microsoft’s AI divisions casually allowed 38 terabytes of sensitive internal data to be exposed. Take a moment to grasp that—38 terabytes, and this from a company audacious enough to assure you that your data is secure in their hands. The level of irresponsibility is simply breathtaking.

What’s even more egregious? This monumental lapse will likely vanish from public memory within a week, dismissed as a minor error. Smaller businesses would be staring down the barrel of bankruptcy for a fraction of this misstep. Yet, Big Tech exists in a surreal bubble where accountability is an alien notion. But, let’s cut them some slack; after all, their coffers aren’t quite swollen enough to adhere to the same ethical norms as small businesses. That was sarcasm.

Google’s Gross Misconduct

As if Microsoft’s data fiasco weren’t enough, Google agreed to pay $155 million to settle claims by California and private plaintiffs regarding misleading consumers about location tracking and unauthorized data usage. Just $155 million! A number so pitiful it’s almost farcical. For a behemoth like Google, that’s essentially the change found between the sofa cushions. It’s almost as if the judicial system is telling them, “Here’s a minor inconvenience for your rampant violation of privacy norms; now, go on your merry way.” The sum hardly serves as a deterrent, much less a catalyst for any meaningful change in Google’s questionable data practices.

What makes this situation even more aggravating is the glaring absence of a competent government response. A vigilant and proactive government—were it not embroiled in a self-serving symbiosis with Big Tech—would have levied a fine of a magnitude befitting the severity of Google’s transgressions. They should be demanding not just millions, but billions, and implementing penalties harsh enough to actually incentivize behavioral change. Ideally, we’d see a system where a failure to reform would result in fines doubling each subsequent month, ensuring that even a giant like Google feels the sting.

Yet, here we are, staring down the barrel of yet another example of the state’s feeble regulatory efforts. It’s disheartening to acknowledge, but the sad reality is that we can’t realistically expect substantive action from our elected representatives. Why? Because they’re too entangled in the web of Big Tech influence, betraying the very constituents they’ve sworn to protect.

The Downfall of Big Tech: A Step-By-Step Guide

For those aspiring to be like these paragons of incompetence, here’s a handy guide to becoming a big tech company:

  1. Be Lazy or Incompetent: This is the foundation upon which your tech empire will be built.
  2. Hire Incompetent People: Why stop at the top? Make sure the rot permeates through the entire organization.
  3. Overpay the Incompetent: High salaries will ensure they stay, further embedding the culture of incompetence.
  4. Wait for the Inevitable Disaster: Rest assured, your team will screw up, potentially jeopardizing millions of users.
  5. ???: Here, the magic happens. Despite all logic and reason, you’ll get away with it.
  6. Profit: The cycle continues. Cash flows in while accountability flows out.

A Call to Arms for FOSS

These are the companies we’re competing against as penguins and proponents of FOSS. They’re not invincible titans of industry; they’re bumbling giants, fumbling through the digital landscape. If you value your privacy, if you cherish free speech, if you believe in the promise of a digital age guided by individual liberty, it’s high time you reject these guardians of surveillance capitalism. With FOSS alternatives gaining traction, you have the power to make informed choices that uphold your freedoms.

A Call to Arms for Elected Officials

For those rare government officials still possessed of a backbone and an unwavering commitment to the principles of freedom and individual liberty, now is your moment to stand tall. The people are tired of the lip service paid to privacy rights, and we’re tired of the incestuous relationship between Big Tech and the government. These corporate monoliths have been allowed to swell into Orwellian entities that wield more power than many sovereign nations, all while we’ve stood by and let it happen. It’s time to reclaim the authority that belongs to the people, and you, as our elected representatives, have the power to catalyze this. Break the chains of corporate influence, set audacious fines that actually mean something, and establish regulatory frameworks that protect individuals over profit. Force these companies to decentralize, to open their codebase, to respect data ownership, and above all, to honor the fundamental human right to privacy. Anything less than a vigorous commitment to these principles is an affront to the ideals upon which free societies are built. The time for lukewarm responses and half-measures is over; now is the time for bold action and unwavering resolve. Stand with us, or make way for those who will.

Big Tech’s blatant disregard for ethics and best practices is not just an opportunity for FOSS companies to rise; it’s a call to arms for all of us to reclaim our data, our privacy, and our freedom. Choose wisely.