Google Privacy

Well, this isn't the finale, but it's something of a curtain raiser. Those of you who've read Searchblog for a while knew this was coming. Google's got a privacy kerfluffle at the moment, and the reactions are interesting. The original release from Privacy International (yow, that's not good). The…


Well, this isn’t the finale, but it’s something of a curtain raiser. Those of you who’ve read Searchblog for a while knew this was coming. Google’s got a privacy kerfluffle at the moment, and the reactions are interesting.

The original release from Privacy International (yow, that’s not good).

The Media Story. (ouch, wow, says Average Joe Newsreader, Google sucks).

Danny (the counterintuitive Google defense).



In the end, this is only going to play poorly for Google. Sure, folks like us might read Danny or TC and realize the story has more than one angle. But two or three orders of magnitude more folks will only read the Media Story.

Google, get out in front of this one….

Update: Matt posts this response.Donna posts this response to that response.

8 thoughts on “Google Privacy”

  1. I waited a day to get a little perspective. Here’s my post:
    http://www.mattcutts dot com/blog/privacy-international-loses-all-credibility/

    (Yes, I’m logged via TypeKey but still can’t leave a url..)

  2. Hi John,

    If you happen to read this comment, I’ve just come back from a conference for Scholarly Publishers where I asked about privacy and related matters to one of the big Google project engineers. The answer I got was quite worrying to me. Slightly loath to punt it out as a public comment, but happy to share it with you if you wish. going to read the links now.

  3. I think Cutts (who used to work for the spooks, bwah hah hah sorry Matt I do love ya) misses the point.

    The whole notion here is that there is a potential for abuse. The fact that we can’t trust ourselves, that google cannot trust its own ‘collective morals’ because WE KNOW THAT POWER CORRUPTS.

    It’s human nature. Hence our founding father’s debates and structure of checks and balances in our government.

    If we need an example to be worried about google, we need only turn to our current state of national government, currently unbalanced, and making dumb mistakes.

    Regardless of this debate, google should be so intelligent as to take the necessary steps to prevent the abuse of its power. Instead of waiting for a disaster to happen, which may actually harm people.

  4. Hi John,

    Thought you’d be interested to hear that Google doesn’t allow “professional services” partners in the States to offer services outside of the States. Just tried to buy some GA support and the company said that they would love to help, but their hands were firmly tied and they couldn’t risk it. Nice…

    I’d have expected this from Microsoft, but not Google…


    PS Your Blog is awesome…

  5. As I mentioned this earlier, if Google takes privacy seriously then how come it is the only major web-company with no link to privacy on its home-page. They have this new bar on top of Google pages. Why do not they have a “privacy policy” link there?

    They have tutorial pages on their Ad Products, why do not they have tutorial pages on privacy. Why do not they educate end users about their policy. All they do is keep repeating, “we take privacy very seriosly…” But that’s all about it. No attempt to inform their user, what does privacy meant in search engine context. No attempt to tell a user that if you search today for “Kamal Jain” and tomorrow for “Microsoft” then in principle, Google has got information that there is some link between “Kamal Jain” and “Microsoft”. Then Google could inform the users that this information will be only used by Google to improve its product but will not be sold to third parties. It is up to the end users to trust Google or not. But right now Google depends upon that the end users do not understand privacy implications. Even on Matt Cutt’s blog, Matt Cutt never tells how much information Google has got on us. What can they conclude about me. What am I actually trusting Google with? What is their potential of knowing about me, which I trust they they would not do.

    Matt Cutts talk about anonymization. But what does anonymization mean? Replacing my name with a unique number. Did he say that this does not decrease the risk for Google’s user because even AOL released query log after anonymizing it. No, Matt Cutt did not write a balanced article therefore there is no credibility his article has. His article looks like a pure PR. It is not like Scoble’s articles when he was at Microsoft. Scoble had some views contrary to Microsoft which he fearlessly wrote.

    Disclaimer: The commentator is a principal researcher in Microsoft. The opinion expressed here is his personal opinion.

  6. Here are some big reasons why I’ll never trust Google again:

    * Everyday, Google is closer to being a monopoly in search.

    * Now, with Universal Search, Google cheats its own users by heavily favoring its own content [from YouTube, Google Video, Google Images] over that available in the general Internet. Google search is not unbiased any more. It discriminates against other Web sites’ content in favor of Google’s own content, abusing its near-monopolistic position in search. BTW, it has a deal with Dell to be the default Web search engine for Dell PCs out-of-the-box.

    * Google is answerable to NO NONE, NOT EVEN THEIR SHAREHOLDERS, since only Larry, Brin and Eric own their Class B voting shares, which are not traded publicly. Each of their publicly traded Class A shares gets 1 vote whereas each Class B voting share get 10 votes. Together the Google Triumvirate hold over 66% of all shareholder votes, meaning they can personally outvote every shareholder resolution from now to eternity.

    * Google has the single most comprehensive database of information about individual Internet users available. They are probably a monopoly in the space of acquiring and using Internet user data.
    >> Search logs [pairing your Internet address with your search keywords] collected for EVERY Internet search you do on AND its other properties [YouTube, Google News, Gmail, Google Images, Google Video…]
    >> Your detailed Web click activity on EVERY Web site you visit that serves DoubleClick ads [remember Google is acquiring DoubleClick, and DoubleClick was prosecuted for privacy violations by the US Govt a few years ago]. DoubleClick serves ads on the vast majority of Web sites.
    >> Personal data you provide on iGoogle [Google’s personalized Web portal], directly as user-entered data, and indirectly through the choice of what widgets and content you choose to include in the personalized home page.
    Its vast data mining algorithm farm [driven by PhDs it grabs from Stanford and MIT] analyzes all these pieces of information that you provide to them every day, building up a comprehensive picture of your life as an individual. It knows more about you than your own family.

    * Yes, Google says “do no evil,” but more and more it is re-defining “evil” to suit its purposes. Reminds me of Bill Gates telling anti-trust regulators with an earnest face that “it depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.”
    +, ask Internet users in China about Google censorship and consorting with their repressive communist goverment.

    Google is fast becoming the big corporate behemoth out to dominate everything else, answerable to no one. Even Microsoft/IBM in their respective heydays did not have such power.
    Google = (Microsoft – 5 years) ^ 2

  7. If we’re really interested to dwell on this matter (and show strong feelings about how we can’t trust Google anymore) then i think it should be fair that we read the report ourselves to really evaluate if the “worst” rating that it gave Google is based on credible and objective standards of “measuring” privacy ethics/behaviors of a company. But Danny Sullivan from SearchEngine seems to be not convinced with the report, calling it “sucky”. Give me a “study” that contains far fewer holes and has a more objective standard, then i will begin to believe the conclusion of that study. I am yet to read the whole report, but if Danny, someone who’s not in Google’s payroll, finds holes and lack of research in the study, then that is certainly not a good sign for Privacy International’s report.

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