Originally Posted by Marvin
Cancer leads to pain, suffering, death.
Climate change leads to flooding, fire, drought, death, sometimes a nice warm Summer.
Google's privacy invasion leads to what? More useful adverts?
I'm pretty sure I've never had a spam email or marketing phone call as a result of any interaction with Google so I don't see how they are the most dangerous offender. Your local bank is worse than Google. They trawl through your entire credit card history every day - so much as try to buy some midget porn and they are on the phone asking if it's a legit transaction (so I've heard). They try to sell you mortgages, loans and insurance deals - they know all your personals details including contact details and financial standing. They sell your details, they gamble with your money and when they screw up, the government gives them your money. Your local bank is much worse than Google, complain about them.
You're using abstract terms to obscure the specifics of the potential harm caused in this scenario. There are many ways in which your privacy is violated - social security id, passport, fixed home address, IP address, computer/device hardware id, credit cards, drivers license, landline phone number, CCTV cameras, GPS devices. Every interaction you make in your entire life leaves a trail back to you as an individual and you can criticise every one of them under the same warning label of 'privacy invasion' harming your freedom but many are essential to your way of life.
We can all live without advertiser tracking and we can all put up with those schizophrenic ads about how dermatologists hate some old woman who gets rid of her wrinkles or how some lazy stay at home mum is getting cheques doing nothing but the harm caused by living with ad tracking is minimal as evidenced by the fact it's been going on for years and nobody has apparently died as a result or suffered in any way whatsoever.
Also, what makes you think Apple isn't using data to their own advantage? Every question sent to Siri is decoded on their servers. They can absolutely use that info to make products that sell better. How do we know that the addition of sports results didn't come from Apple tracking that loads of people were asking Siri for sports results? How is that different from Google? Apple has your UUID, credit card info and location.
Mostly, your "argument" depends on a series of tu quoque arguments, along with a facile dismissal of the real issues involved. About 99% of your "argument" is of the tu quoque variety and is easily dismissed by pointing out that the fact that others may be violating your privacy doesn't make it OK that Google or Facebook are. It also doesn't change the fact that Google remains the most egregious offender. A phone call, per se, doesn't violate your privacy. It's an interruption in your life, but the actual privacy violation occurs from the enitity, be it Google, your credit card company or the governement looking over your shoulder. (It's unavoidable that your credit card company knows you are spending money, but it's not unavoidable that they know what exactly you are spending it on. In fact, your credit card company knows how much you spent, and where you spent it, but not exactly what you bought.)
But, you are right that we face a serious crisis of privacy, and thus freedom, in this country, as well as in the rest of the world. We're allowing private companies to amass huge databases detailing our behavior that would be considered shocking if the government had it. In fact, when the government started a program to do just this, Congress shut it down. The idea that it's ok because these are private companies (and because they're all doing it) is nonsense. The problem with the government collecting this kind of information on its citizens isn't that, "the government has the guns," as is often repeated. The problem is that the government has power. Well, corporations like Google have power too and, if they decide to screw up your life, they have just as much ability as the government to do it. They'll also hand all that information over to the government at the drop of a hat, so essentially Google acts as a surrogate for the government in spying on its citizens.
The problem with Google is that no other company has ever proceeded so aggressively and on such a broad scale to compile personally identifiable profiles on so many people. Despite all your examples above, Google has collected more, and more detailed, information on more people than any of the other entities you mention. They have also demonstrated time and again that they have zero respect for privacy, zero respect for the law, and that their word means absolutely nothing.
Late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover blackmailed sitting US Presidents with information he collected on them to force them to do what he wanted. How long until Google, a company that has demonstrated no respect for the law, if they haven't already, blackmails members of Congress, Executive Branch officials, Judges? You might say there's no reason to think they'd ever do that, but there's no reason to think they won't, eventually, to get their way. The very fact that it's possible it could happen is dangerous.
But the harm from all this spying, home invasion, tracking, and so on, is and will be the chilling effect it has on the daily behavior of individuals. With Google and others constantly looking over our shoulders, tracking us around the web, and now around the physical world, stealing data from our WiFi networks, individuals are already afraid to do things, entirely ethical and legal things, simply from the fear that Google will know. This is happening now, today, so the harm that you ask about occurs anytime anyone thinks twice about going to a website because they'd rather not have anyone know they did. Any time you feel you can't use your phone because you don't want a record in a database that you were at a particular location, you have suffered harm. Your actions, your freedom to act and live your life without the fear of someone looking over your shoulder has been curtailed.
And, no, just because you do something you would be embarrassed for other people to know about, doesn't mean its wrong. Maybe you're gay and in the closet, which you should be free to be. So maybe you don't want ads related to that popping up on your screen that others might see. But, now that we have Google tracking everywhere we go and everything we do, you aren't free to go where you want and do what you want with the comfort that it will be private behavior. You have been harmed, your freedom has been curtailed, by Google's behavior.
And, thus, our privacy, and freedom, are chipped away at, little by little, piece by piece, until eventually, if we allow it to happen we'll have none of either left. So, please, stop pretending that no one has suffered harm. And, please, stop asking ridiculous questions, that are beside the point, in demanding what the specific harm was in each individual violation. While there certainly can be specific harm linked to individual violations, the more important issue, the more serious harm to us as a nation, is the loss of the feeling that we are free to live our lives as we want. And the loss of the feeling, is the loss of our freedom.