Google: Do no evil?

Hmmm… Apparently I’ve been hanging on to an article that I wanted to link to here. The article is “Suddenly, the Paranoids Don’t Seem So Paranoid Anymore by Tony Long (via Wired). Long is writing about Google’s Street View team and their willingness to take photos of anyone, anywhere:

But just to be safe, Google makes it clear that it’s on firm legal footing; that you have no legal guarantee to privacy on a public street. So if you turn up on Street View as you’re ducking into the local porn emporium, that’s your tough luck. Maybe it is legal. Probably it is. So what? Being legal doesn’t mean being right.Let’s call a spade a spade here, lay all our cards on the table and use all the clichés necessary to make one thing perfectly clear: Google is invading your privacy for the same reason (and only reason) it does anything. It smells a chance to make money and it’s going to make money, and to hell with you and your privacy. Do no evil? Balls.

Greed, unfortunately, is another American characteristic. One that will eventually destroy us. [Emphasis mine.]

Long’s main point is that Google has abandoned their “Do no evil” stance in pursuit of the all-mighty dollar. I am willing to give Google the benefit of the doubt, but I am not certain why. On the surface, it definitely seems like Google has abandoned all pretenses of caring about their user’s privacy. Why am I willing to believe that they haven’t?

Google makes their money by collecting data. It doesn’t matter what that data is about.  It can be the contents of web pages, books, journals, online photo collections, email and more. Collecting data on individual users never seemed to be important to Google. They make money on aggregated, anonymized data about their users. There seemed to be no real need for Google to collect individual or identifying information. This seems harmless, so I really didn’t give it much thought.

Now, though, I am not so certain. What really got me back to thinking about this is Google’s attempted purchase of Doubleclick. Doubleclick is a truly evil company. They make their money by collecting indentifying information about individuals. Doubleclick wants to track everything that an individual person does on the ‘net, and then feed that back to their clients. That is EVIL!

So now, I am not so certain that Google’s intentions are altruistic. I’ll see how this story unfolds.

Related posts:

  1. WTF? “Tor: Freedom for whom?”
  2. Heard it from a friend, who heard it from a friend…
  3. Hi-def comes to those who wait

One Response to “Google: Do no evil?”

  • Angelo says:

    It’s interesting that a co-worker and I were just talking today about large companies and how the US isn’t so concerned with enforcing the anti-Trust laws anymore. I think that’s a shame. I think the anti-Trust laws are one of the things that are a good idea, makes the US unique, and makes the US successful over long periods of time.

Profile picI am a 40-ish uber-geek, Daoist and family man. Blessed to have one incredible wife and three wonderful kiddos. Dao has been kind to me.

June 2007
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