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Conflict of Interest

"Google CEO: Get Ready for Cellphone Ads" -- Google sees users as "targets" to stalk

I had to chuckle when I saw the headline: "Google CEO: Get Ready for Cellphone Ads" on the US News and World Report Blog.

  • Google can't help but salivate over how valuable "targeted" ads could be on the most personal of devices -- the cell phone.

While Google's standard line is that Google is all about the "user" -- stories like this shed light on the truth -- it's really all about Google.

Google's self-centered, megalomaniacal mission to organize the world's information to be accessible and useful to Google -- blind Google to the very different privacy reality of the cellphone world:

Can you trust Google to obey the rules? Is Google accountable to anyone?

In monitoring Google as closely as I do, it has become increasingly clear that Google does not believe it has to obey the rules, standards, regulations and laws, that others routinely obey and respect. Google increasingly operates like a self-declared, virtual sovereign nation, largely unaccountable to the rules and mores of the rest of the world.     

  • There is plentiful evidence of Google's unaccountability; see the following analysis peppered generously with source links. 

The impetus for this analysis and documentation was Saul Hansel's outstanding New York Times Blog: "Google fights for the right to hide its privacy policy." 

  • In a nutshell, Mr. Hansel spotlighted how Google is refusing to abide by the Network Advertising Initiative's rule that its members must display a link to their privacy policy on their home page; and that this industry self-regulatory body is expected to bend its rules specifically to accomodate Google.
  • This is no isolated incident, shirking the accountability that most everyone else respects is near standard operating procedure for Google. 

Is Google accountable to anyone?    

First, can public shareholders hold Google accountable?

"Googolopoly" the Board Game -- Kudos to Box.net for their great sense of humor!

Kudos to Box.net blog who created a clever Googolopoly board game modeled after the Monopoly board game most have us have played at one time or another.

  • Per Box.net: "...One day we got tired of being serious about the situation and came up with Googolopoly, a game where you can take part of ruling the internet even if you don’t work in Mountain View. The goal of the game is to use Google shares to buy as many properties as you can without landing in the deadpool and losing your stock. As with any great board game, there’s a very real metaphor to what’s going on…. What happens when the Google monster gobbles up all that is left in the web world, is present on your cell phone, desktop, and even controls your health information? For all their product excellence, the threat of amassing this much data is too serious to ignore."

I would be remiss if I didn't link to my own, differently spelled, www.googleopoly.net website which includes some of the most in-depth and serious analysis of Google's growing market power.

For those who wonder -- why should I care:

There's no constitutional free speech protection for inciting terrorism; Google-YouTube and NYT are off-base

The New York Times in it's Sunday editorial: "Joe Lieberman, Would-Be Censor" needs to go back to school on what is "constitutionally protected free speech," because they obviously don't understand the full Constitution or context.  

  • The brouhaha here is that Senate Homeland Security Chairman wrote a letter to Google-YouTube requesting that they take down terrorist content "intended to encourage violence against the West." (My first post on this is here.)
  • Almost immediately, Google-YouTube essentially stiff-armed the Senate Homeland Security Committee in a blog post that said no to most of their request. (My second post on this is here.)

I suggest the New York Times editorial board and Google-YouTube go back to the Constitution, which importantly protects freedom of speech in the First Amendment, but also makes the Supreme Court in Article III, the essential final arbiter of what the Constitution says and means in everyday life -- not the New York Times or Google-YouTube authority-wannabes.

Google-YouTube's "neutral-extremism" in stiff-arming Senate Homeland Security Chairman on terrorism

When I blogged yesterday wondering how long it would take Google to fully respond to Senate Homeland Security Chairman Lieberman's request for YouTube to pull down "Internet video content produced by terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda", even I didn't think Google-YouTube would respond so immediately and uncooperatively to Chairman Lieberman.    

Google-YouTube's response is remarkable because the United State's final arbiter of what is constituionally-protected free speech, The United States Supreme Court, just handed down a new ruling on free speech on Monday that further limited harmful free speech in its United States v. Williams decision. That decision concerned free speech limitations involving the pandering and soliciting of child pornography.

Why Google storing personal health records is a really bad joke -- the public should be worried...

Given that Google began offering online personal health records to the public yesterday, I thought it would be timely and helpful to repost in its entirety a previous post of mine from February 21, 2008 on why Google being in the business of storing personal health records is a really bad joke.

  • The post has over twenty useful and illuminating links, and many of them contain mainstream documents that underscore why the public should be extremely wary about entrusting Google with its most intimate, private and personal information.

Below is my 2-21-2008 post in its entirety -- if you missed it, or care about this issue, it's a online privacy must-read post: 

AP reports "Google to Store Patient's Health Records." Let's count the reasons why Google storing Americans' private health records is a really bad joke.

Google-YouTube asked to take down terrorist content by Senate Homeland Security Chairman

Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman "Monday called on Google to remove Internet video content produced by terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda. The videos – readily available on YouTube –show assassinations, deaths of U.S. soldiers and civilians, weapons training, incendiary speeches by al-Qaeda leadership, and other material intended to encourage violence against the West."

  • This link includes the Chairman's press release and the Committee's Monday letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
    • (An interesting historical sub-text to this letter, that is worth mentioning, is that in 2000, Senator Lieberman was the Vice Presidential running mate of current Google Senior Advisor Al Gore, a former Vice President of the U.S.)

I link to this Senator Lieberman announcement because it will be telling how Google responds to this reasonable request from Homeland Security oversight authorities, given that Google is the funding patron and well recognized corporate leader of the "net neutrality" movement that has branded net neutrality as the "First Amendment of the Internet." (Never mind that the Internet has never had a constitution to amend.)

New IAB data indicate Google & Yahoo have 64% share of US Internet advertising revenue!

The new 2008 Internet Advertising Revenue report just came out from the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

It has U.S. Internet advertising revenues for 2007 at $21.2b, up an impressive 26% from 2006 revenues of $16.9b, but nowhere near as impressive as Google's 56% overall revenue growth in 2007. 

With the pending Google-Yahoo outsourcing pact reportedly being negotiated, I thought it might be iluminating or instructive to see what share of U.S. Internet advertising revenues Google and Yahoo each have, and what they would have on a combined basis. 

  • Given that Google's 2007 U.S. revenues were ~$8.9b that would be about 42% of all U.S. advertising of $21.2b.
  • Given that Yahoo's 2007 U.S. revenues were ~$4.7b that would be about 22% of all U.S. advertising revenues of $21.2b.
  • That would put Google and Yahoo's combined Internet advertising revenue shares at 64% that the "partnership" would collectively control. 

At a minimum, the domination of these two players in the U.S. Internet advertising market, combined with Google's incredible momentum in taking share from all its competitors signalling powerful network effects, must concern both the DOJ and FTC.

If Google and Yahoo partner to not compete as fully as they did before... where is competition going to come from? 

What Dr. Seuss might have written about Googlehoo...

With respect and affection to the memory of the late great Dr. Seuss.... 

Googlehoo mocks all the boo hoos over their ballyhooed Googlehoo coup.

Get a clue.

Googlehoo pooh-poohs a collusive coup between their crews.

It's no glue to screw you.

But, who knew it would be true, that Googlehoo would rue, that Justice could see through, Googlehoo's collusion boo-boo, and eventually sue?

Can we construe Mr. Icahn's Yahoo debut, and shareholder kung fu, as a rejection of the Googlehoo view?

Will Yahoo bid Googlehoo adieu, overcome the Microsoft taboo, and renew the review of the Microsoft view?

an anti-competitive squabble among net neutrality friends?

I had to grin when I saw that two of net neutrality top supporters of net neutrality, eBay and Craig Newmark of Craig's list are reportedly in an legal fight and Craigslist is actually accusing eBay of anti-competitive behavior

I have to point out two ironies here:

First, eBay has 95% share of the online auction market. Yep, like Google in Europe, eBay is well past the unofficial maarket share level of what it takes to be declared a monopoly.

  • It seems as if online unofficial monopolies like eBay are not above leveraging their market power in one market,online auctions, into an adjacent market like the classified ad market.

Second, it is both Craigslist and eBay, who are eviserating one side of the newspaper industry's two-sided business model (ads and subscriptions), while at the same time promoting net neutrality, which is a clever scheme by online monopolies like Google and eBay to effectively prevent broadband companies from evolving into a two-sided marketplace with  both subscriptions and advertising.

 Bottom line: It seems as if eBay defines anti-competitive as what others might do to eBay, not what eBay actually does to others. Ask Craig.    

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths