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Felten on Google and Privacy

By - January 20, 2006

He riffs on DRM and Video, which I find interesting in any case, but it’s the last two grafs of this post which really nail it:

Privacy is for Google what security is for Microsoft. At some point Microsoft realized that a chain of security disasters was one of the few things that could knock the company off its perch. And so Bill Gates famously declared security to be job one, thousands of developers were retrained, and Microsoft tried to change its culture to take security more seriously.

It’s high time for Google to figure out that it is one or two privacy disasters away from becoming just another Internet company. The time is now for Google to become a privacy leader. Fixing the privacy issues in its video DRM would be a small step toward that goal.

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7 thoughts on “Felten on Google and Privacy

  1. Ledio says:

    Google has at hand a much different battle then Microsoft.

    “The time is now for Google to become a privacy leader..” and war with the Government…

    I feel for them and for my privacy.

  2. Joe Hunkins says:

    Nope. All this privacy hype is Silicon Valley elitism. These issues are too abstract and impractical for most to grasp, let alone feel stongly enough about to make a big stink about. Google won’t live or die on privacy items, they’ll live or die on advertising appeal and their ability to perpetuate the myth that Yahoo results are not equal in quality.

  3. Charbax says:

    Google has got a much better DRM system than the company. It can be incrackable I would say. I don’t believe the theory from people saying that every DRM will allways be cracked. I believe encryption techniques can make a system infallible. Why do you think that we have internet banks.

    Google probably encrypts all DRM videos with the same key which the Google Video Player knows. Now the Google Video Player just needs to ask if the account ID is allowed to playback the video, then it does it.

    What’s awesome about this is that I can download a Google DRM video and use it for myself on any computer, but I can also copy the file and give it to someone else who can also watch it if they buy the rights.

    Google Video Player retrieves updates and connected launches the website where the user can pay if that user hasn’t paid yet. This way Google saves the need to provide bandwidth for that distributed video.

    I imagine Google soon using peer-to-peer file delivery method with Google Video Player or with a Google Video Assistant to save bandwidth costs for distributing free and payable videos which I have talked about here:
    http://groups.google.com/group/Google-Labs-Google-Video/browse_thread/thread/8ef1352c3ee352f6/

    Soon all consumer electronics will constantly be connected to the internet, so this DRM system will be perfect for those. Allthough it is probably at the content providers discretion to allow files to be used on offline DivX Certified devices like dvd players. But internet-connected DivX certified players are allready available. So Google Video-on-demand drm is probably allready being made ready to work on thos. Thus a Google Video Store 100% compatible set-top-box.

  4. Jon Swift says:

    I would like to explain some of my searches in case Google loses its case:
    http://jonswift.blogspot.com/2006/01/google-searches.html

  5. Simon Jones says:

    perhaps I am foolishly romantic about Google and the original ethos of the creators to not be “evil.” This latest storm has very publicly bought the whole privacy issue into the limelight in a way that i don’t think we’ve seen before, and maybe this will lead to Google taking privacy concerns much more seriously now. I sincerely hope so.

    I love Google for being the good guys who beat the greedy guys. But perhaps suddenly being worth 11 Billion dollars might make us all become a little less idealistic than we might like to admit?

  6. Ken says:

    If Google rolled over like Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL, we probably wouldn’t even have heard about this. Now, that’s frightening. When companies turn over user data to a 3rd parties – government, private company, malicious hacker – they really should be forced to fess up, much in the same vein that certain states force companies to warn their clients when their client’s financial data has been compromised.

  7. Joe Hunkins says:

    Ken good point. I’d suggest more transparency about what’s *done with our search data* rather than more secrecy. People are naively trusting Google more than DOJ. As each of them forms generalizations about users based on user data, the user has the right to know about this.