From the Blogosphere
Is Google the Next Evil Empire?
This latest case comes on top of the company’s missteps with Buzz
By: David Strom
Mar. 3, 2010 01:15 PM
Google Session at Cloud Expo
This case comes on top of the company’s missteps with Buzz, where it had to alter the default privacy settings after a rather embarrassing launch and lots of fanfare.
Has Google become more evil, or is it just the contentious times we live in that makes this sad state of affairs possible? One thing is clear, though: Google is becoming bigger and buying more and more companies that have products or services that I use. Picnik (online photo editing) and Etherpad (online real time document collaboration) are just two of the more recent acquisitions. The Etherpad acquisition was also a bit troubling, where the company had first announced they were turning off the service, then had to restore it after numerous complaints.
I still think the vast majority of people at Google adhere to the company’s ten founding principles, which is more than I can say for my dealings with Microsoft over the years. Certainly both companies are hyper-competitive. But the very nature and pervasiveness of Google’s online services makes it more pernicious, and has a greater potential for abuse, as the recent news indicates. But it also means that they can turn more quickly when they make a mistake: the Etherpad issue was resolved in a day or so. Imagine Microsoft trying to do that. Indeed, try finding something similar to this document on Microsoft’s Web site: you will find a lot of corporate doublespeak, rather than the plain spoken “Ten Things” that Google professes.
While all this was going down in Italy, I was reviewing what information Google has stored on me in Google Accounts. If you haven’t had a look at your “dashboard” lately, it is instructive to see exactly what Google can track on you. In my case, I use a ton of different Google products, and recorded for posterity include the following:
You get the picture: there is a lot you can learn about me when you scroll through all this data, and a lot that I would prefer remain private. All it takes is someone to guess a single password, too. That is scary, and I hope that “do no evil” thing is still very much in force in the years to come.
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