Whether Google can be accused of being an evil global corporation hell-bent on retrieving personal details for their own mischievous aims, or of just being monumentally stupid and careless is a matter of personal opinion.
But it is safe to say that most people would not compare what Google has done to someone physically breaking into your home and perusing through, and stealing, your personal items.
Neither would most people suggest that an appropriate response would be to shoot the offending thief/Google employee with a pump action Winchester shotgun – no matter how good target practice the silly cameras on top of Google’s ridiculous cars would make.
However, most people are not Daily Mail columnist, and BNP favourite, Richard Littlejohn.
Yes, Littlejohn was in his usual even-handed and rationale form in his response to current affairs, suggesting that a reasonable course of action in such circumstances would be to “do a Tony Martin”.
For those of you who don’t remember who he is, Tony Martin was the farmer from Norfolk who very controversially shot two burglars in 1999, killing one and injuring the other. Martin’s house had been broken into numerous times and police had been unable to prevent it happening again, leading to an understandably frightened Martin taking matters into his own hands.
Martin was subsequently convicted of murder, before the conviction was reduced to manslaughter due to various circumstances. What really got people wound up however was the fact that the survivor then appealed for compensation for lack of earnings. Members of the far-right in particular latched onto the highly divisive story straight away with Martin even showing support for the BNP after being released.
Essentially the whole issue provoked furious debate about the right to defend one’s self at home, and raised questions about what is considered appropriate force when you are faced with a highly dangerous situation. A question of law and ethics, the debate raged throughout England for considerable time, and the case has now been used as a convenient analogy by Littlejohn for Google’s folly.
So yes, Google were stupid. Massively so. But at no point was anyone’s life put in danger, nor did anyone die. This is just a case of a supremely reactionary statement made to stir up further reactionary feeling among readers. In a rambling tirade against a number of relatively innocuous targets such as Facebook and, almost inexplicably, internet banking, Littlejohn has made it clear that he believes the whole of the internet is out to personally harm him.
So while Tony Martin’s actions may have inspired Littlejohn, at least Martin sparked intelligent and rationale debate, whereas Littlejohn succeeds only in suppressing it.