Monday, August 08, 2005

Google balances privacy and reach

This CNET article doesn't scare me as much as Google's reaction to it. I am aware of the multitude of information Google knows about me, if someone cared to look. I use their email, Blogger and typically, it's the first place to go if I'm looking for information, whether it is work related, writing related or personal. My main priority at work is to monitor the shipping patterns and habits of a multi-million dollar freight spend. I know all sorts of things about Susie Q and John P that they don't realize that I am watching. I can only imagine what sort of things Google could find out about people, if they really wanted to know. Right now, I can think of several scenarios, each scarier than the last. But they all seem to be the fodder of a literary twist that the likes of John Grisham or Robert Ludlem would come up with and not real things. Of course, I could tell you what my neighbors' paid for their houses and how much it is worth. I bet they don't know that. Should that be scary? Absolutely. Am I afraid of it the way I am of terrorist or Nazis? No. What does scare me is that Google black-balled the reports. Can we really trust a company use a slogan - "Don't Be Evil" - to keep its ideologies pure? Is violation of this basic human deceny the reason CNET reporters are being punished? How much evil is Google allowing to happen every day? As a country, don't we rises to arms when our freedom, and that of others, is being violated? Yet, Google is allowed to keep massive databanks that violate my privacy. If they were to attack us as a whole, instead of allowing the pieces to be attacked, would we care then? I like Google. Their email is great. The provide the best search engine for my needs. Blogging is something I really enjoy. Why are they keeping data? What purpose, other than pushing ads, does it serve? Questions need to be raised, especially as Google is now a public company and accountable to its stock holders. The Board of Directors needs to define what purpose the databank serves and that people can expect a reasonable amount of deceny. CEO Eric Schmidt has felt the violation of privacy that his company provides. His response, or lack their of, is as telling as if he had held a press conference.

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