Technological progress is inevitable, but there will always be people who fear the future. Modern-day luddites have very justifiable concerns about companies like Google invading their privacy, but there are plenty of reasonable ways to keep yourself safe in the digital age. You can use encrypted messaging apps or even cover your laptop camera with tape, but what you should absolutely not do is throw several Molotov cocktails at a commercial building and set a self-driving car on fire.
Usually, you would think this point would be relatively self-explanatory, but technological paranoia can do terrible things to a person — Raul Murillo Diaz, a 30-year-old Oakland resident has been charged with arson after he allegedly threw two molotov cocktails at a Google building in Mountain View, California, singeing a Street View car, shooting at a different Google building, and burning down another Street View car. Diaz told the police and prosecution that he “felt Google was watching him and it made him upset.”
Police are pretty sure that Diaz was responsible not only for the firebombing, which happened on May 19 at 1501 Salado Drive in Mountain View, but also for a separate drive-by shooting on June 1 at a different Google building, and for burning down a self-driving car on June 10 at another Google building. The perpetrator and vehicle involved in the first two crimes matches Diaz’s description, and he admitted to committing the crimes in his official affidavit. Still, the only charges leveled was one count of arson for the May 19 fire, attributed to “malicious damage by explosives.” If he’s convicted, he could go to prison for up to 20 years and be forced to pay as much as $250,000. He’s being held with no bail at the Santa Clara County jail.
It seems clear that he kept a journal documenting the times he felt Google was watching him, and seems to have singled the company out in particular. You can read the full police affidavit here — it seems clear that, like millions of Americans, Diaz suffers from mental health issues — but in this case, his paranoia might not be so far from the truth.