|Syntactic Confectionery Delight|
They could also do that in the Dark Ages, allbeit in a much more painful way... ;)
I feel that's more a complaint about governments than about technology (checking... you seem to live in the US, that clears things up). Governments always have, always had and always will have ways to find out information. That's what power does.
There is no stopping the future, the question is not even boolean, for that matter. The real question is how the balance will go between the positive versus the negative uses of technology.
People from all walks of life have now access to more knowledge than ever dreamt of by kings and fascist governments. There are, for instance, free encyclopedia's, operating systems and other software that enable people to use them and study them -- this site is one of them. There are more sources of news than ever before -- anything that happens around the world can be found out in mere minutes -- and it is more likely that those who care can come up with a rather unbiased view from all these sources.
In my opinion, the most important question is if people will learn to benefit more from the good sides of having so much information available, and to select wisely and truthfully from all that data, than end up misusing or misinterpreting it -- no matter how relative some of these terms often are. There will always be abusers, in any way, in any time, of any system.
In the end, it all comes down to whether or not you have faith in humanity.
The internet, Google and search engines are about as relevant to 'good' and 'evil' as the first time someone melted metal and made a purposeful object out of it (feel free to fill in any other lame comparison). Is a metal 'good' or 'evil'?
Google will do things that are generally liked, and most probably, also things that are generally disliked... Because they can. That's human nature. Just on a big, $500 billion scale. :)