Google, We Need To Talk!

A young Pakistani citizen has a few thoughts that they wanted to share with the American tech giant, so they wrote Google a letter. We've reproduced the text below in full.

Google, We Need To Talk!

Dear Mr. Google,

My younger brother and I, 3 years and 12 years old respectively, live in Islamabad, Pakistan. In our lives, we have learnt many new things together with you. My mum used to play lullabies for us on YouTube when we were babies. Now we both can use it ourselves. Actually, cousins and friends my age, and I can now also use other platforms as well. My current favorites are Instagram and its cousin WhatsApp from your friend Meta.

Today, I am writing to you for a reason. I know you are just like me amongst your friends… Big and strong, but reasonable. I have heard a few disturbing things about you and your friends, and I thought I must ask you directly.

The other day, an old uncle, who has always been recognized to have wisdom since he has got something to do with the Government, was saying a few things that greatly worried me. I have tried discussing what I heard with my younger brother but he is still too young. My parents are mostly impatient when such older uncles on TV or our neighborhood share their ideas about Pakistan and its young people. My parents think older people, especially those in government know nothing about ‘our Pakistan’. Honestly, I have started to feel a little bit of same about them (my parents). But we will talk about it another day. So it was pointless speaking to them.

 I trusted you all my life, but now I understand you do not have good plans for my country. Have you been stealing my information? Are you really a thief? And what do you plan on doing with this information? Or, how do you actually use it?

Is it really true that you are taking our information to India and sharing it with them as well? We are not friends with them! And is it because you want to steal our money or some of our greatest secrets? Though I don’t think we have much of either right now, but still! I am sure there is a motive as that old Uncle said, but he didn’t pin it down! And I still can’t figure it out for myself!

What is this business of social media content governance, freedom of expression and human rights? I learnt that you and your friends have mostly been disrespectful to my government and not listening to it. Have you also not been respecting our social and religious boundaries? Why do you want to convert our society into a western society? But can you really do it if we all choose to reject such ideas. I think, not! But that Uncle was really anxious.

Since then I have looked for more information online and found out that you and your friends have made AIC write another letter to our last Prime Minister. He is gone now! And you must think of the environment and trees before using more paper and electricity before writing another one to the incumbent.

You know, had it been the Prime Minister before him, your last letter could have easily been interpreted as a threat to our national security. You should thank your stars that it was he, and not his predecessor. Otherwise we all would have been burning your and your friends’ effigies in Cipher Saga 2.0. And I must also now ask you to reconsider any support for any men and women wanted by my country. If you all have been helping them steal our secrets and propagate them to the world, we have a brand new ‘law.’ And now, also a dedicated court ready for all of you in Islamabad

Lately, I have also experienced some personal issues with you. I am also my family’s navigator when we go out on road trips. Your Maps app took us through longer routes and broken roads in the mountains twice this summer. My reputation as a good navigator was at stake, and I care for it greatly, just so you know! But in this, I also realized that you don’t know everything about my country, my people and the government.

Let me just remind you of a few things before we get to the other stuff I want to talk about. You may be the biggest in your areas of expertise, but we are no less in ours. We are the world’s 5th largest population and have the 7th most powerful military. We are also the most attractive location for IT outsourcing with the world 2nd largest Internet freelancing community. We are also the world’s 3rd largest milk producer and the 4th largest IT workforce. We happen to be the 5th largest cotton producer, 6th largest onion and mango producer respectively, with the world’s 7th largest copper reserves, and the 10th largest rice producer. And that’s not all!

I think it is thus important that respect each other as equals. I do not understand with such an excellent opportunity, you chose not to setup data centers in Pakistan? Why did you and Amazon choose to invest your billions of dollars in India and not us? I now also know that you recently opened a Centre of Excellence in Saudi Arabia, and another one in South Africa. Not using ‘our talented IT workforce and ideal business conditions’ will be your loss one day.

I was once again left perturbed when I found out online that you have set up an AI based flood forecasting system for India. Do you know we face a greater risk of climate change than them? We also have our AI policy almost ready now! I thought we were friends!

Also, what is this sorcery of trying to scare our Old Uncles and ignoring our government, while trying to be friends with us? Please decide if you still want our friendship. I understand that it would be bigger loss for you (Or will it be?) if it ends! Despite my disappointment in all what I have heard, we brothers wont like you to lose your money and our friendship. But it will now be hard for us to trust you easily.

I also realize I must have hurt some of your feelings with this letter. But I am disturbed with what I have heard. You must fix your relationship with my government. My younger brother and our government - you do not want to make them cross by ignoring them or not listening to them. Trust me! And between us, my brother is the one who is easily reconcilable. Just imagine what will happen if we are no longer allowed to talk to each other. The thought makes me sad!

You can think about what I said and also talk to your friends.  I will do the same. And, maybe we can speak again!

Yours truly.

The author is a project management and technology professional.