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Conflict of Interest

More evidence of Google's conflict of interest in protecting its users from spammers & scammers

Found a smoking gun on how Google's conflict of interests actually hurts Google users, which I explain later in this post.

  • As I have blogged several times of late, here, here, here, here, and here, Google works for advertisers and publishers not users/consumers; and Google's undisclosed conflict of interest, lulls Google's users into a false sense of security that Google is looking out for users' best interests -- and safety -- when they clearly are not.
  • I have found specific evidence below that Google is not looking out for its users' best interests or safety. 

Google knows there are "potentially harmful sites that make Google users more vulnerable to spammers or scammers. I have suggested before that they could easily warn users of the danger from specific results with warnings on search result pages.

Google's founders understood the conflict-of-interest in its business model from the beginning

A consistent theme in my ongoing analysis of Google, has been Google's corporate refusal to overtly disclose the fundamental financial conflict of interest inherent in their business model, i.e that Google does not work for users like they routinely claim, but for advertisers and publishers. 

  • The best example of the serious risks to users of this undisclosed conflict of interest has been how Google has reacted since early April to the dramatic increase in risk to its users of indentity theft and fraud by cyber-criminals exploiting security weaknesses in Google's search results.
  • I personally have seen the consumer devastation that undisclosed conflicts of interest can cause.
    • After the collapse of Enron, I was asked to testify in the Senate on how conflicts of interests were integral to Enron's fraud.
    • I was also asked to testify on the dangers of undisclosed conflicts of interest in the House during the tech meltdown.

Interestingly, it appears I am not the only one concerned that Google's advertising-based search model has a serious inherent conflict of interest.

Yahoo-Google's search outsourcing pact: the fine line between collaboration and collusion

Interested observers in the Microsoft-Yahoo-Google-AOL-Ask.com-MySpace incestuous soap opera called search advertising, would be wise to bone up on the fine line between acceptable industry collaboration and illegal collusion, if recent reports prove true.

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that Yahoo may be days away from announcing "an agreement to carry search advertisements from Google.." and that Google feels "that the upside is much greater than the potential downside" from the arrangement."  
  • The Financial Times broke the story that the Department of Justice was investigating Google's interaction with Yahoo and that "the prosecution of collusion is a top priority."     

The fine line between collaboration and collusion. 

First, while many may be aware that a Google-Yahoo outsourcing deal "would likely attract intense antitrust scrutiny" there is precious little analysis on this linchpin issue -- hence the genesis of this piece.

I believe the pattern of Google becoming the outsourced search engine for most all of the Internet -- save for a few properties -- is one of the most important and least understood competitive Internet issues.  

Some Kudos for Google! Google blogged "How to avoid getting hooked" -- better late than never

Google deserves some bona fide kudos from me for blogging yesterday with some very sound and practical advice about how their users or anyone who reads their blog - could avoid getting hooked/scammed by fraudsters.

  • As a consumer, I learned a couple of new tips to better protect myself from phishing fraud.
  • The advice was clear, practical, informative and useful.

However, I was surprised that they did not choose to link to other sites in and out of government that could also be useful to consumers looking to protect themselves better.

I was also surprised it took a month for Google to say anything about how users could better protect themselves from new fraud scams that were exploiting weaknesses in Google's search engine protections so that Google was unwittingly offering up scam pages as part of their search results.

Red State documents disturbing LessiGoogle "discrimination/bias" against Christians

Anyone who considers themselves religious should read Red State's illuminating and shocking post, which documents an anti-Christian discriminatory bias by Stanford Law Professor Larry Lessig and his extremely close ally -- Google.

WARNING: Christians will find the one-minute-fifty-second video that Mr. Lessig shows to a laughing Google audience, sacrilegious, offensive, and disturbing.  

More evidence undermining Google's claim that net neutrality should not apply to Google

Only Google, which never met a self-serving, double-standard that it did not embrace, could overtly enter the business of selling network capacity and bandwidth to the public like broadband providers do, and still oppose net neutrality for themselves. (See my previous post where Google's Board recently recommended that shareholders vote against applying net neutrality to Google.)

On April 7th, Google had a press announcement: "Previewing Google App engine: run your apps on Google's infrastructure" (which was also picked up in a story by the Wall Street Journal). In that Google press annoucement, Google it made clear that it was going to sell network bandwidth to developers:

  • "The preview release of Google App Engine is limited to the first 10,000 developers that sign up, all of whom will be restricted to the free quota of 500MB of storage and enough CPU and network bandwidth to sustain around 5 million page views per month for a typical app. The preview phase is intended to gather feedback from developers. Eventually, developers will be able to purchase additional storage and bandwidth." [bold added]

Can any of the Google-defenders that regularly read this blog, and there are lots, please explain to me in a comment, how Google selling network capacity and network bandwidth to developers does not put Google clearly in the network or broadband business --competing directly with all the network providers, which Google has been lobbying furiously to apply network neutrality regulations to?

Hance Haney finds more Orwellian doublespeak in Lessig's FCC Lecture on net neutrality

Kudos to Hance Haney of the Discovery Institute, who in his Tech Liberation Front blog post: "What did he say?, found another big misrepresentation whopper in Professor Lessig's lecture to the FCC on net neutrality last week.

  • Hance pointed out in elegant detail, that Professor Lessig took the extensive quotes about the important value of end-to-end arrchitecture from former FCC Chief Economist Gerald Foulhaber in 2000 -- completely out-of-context.
    • Hance: "Normally when you quote someone extensively but selectively and you’re making a different (arguably opposite) point, you acknowledge that."

  • Like I explained in my previous post "Bringing sunlight to Professor Lessig's Orwellian Doublespeak lecture at the FCC" I identified three clear instances of Professor Lessig misreprenting the views of others or weaknesses in his net neutrality argument.  

    • Hance's keen memory and ear identified a big fourth example.

    • I'll bet others heard additional misrepresentations or half-truths in Professor Lessig's FCC lecture -- as four misrepresentation examples clearly represent a pattern of not shooting straight to the public on net neutrality.

Bringing sunlight to Professor Lessig's Orwellian Doublespeak lecture to the FCC

Not only was I stunned that the FCC allowed Professor Larry Lessig to lecture for a half an hour at the FCC's en banc hearing at Stanford, I was even more stunned no one challenged his blatant misrepresentation and Orwellian "doublespeak" in support of net neutrality.

  • Remember in George Orwell's "1984," how "Big Brother" communicated that: "war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance  is strength" -- creating an upside-down-world where if an idea is repeated enough times... it somehow becomes true?

Here are three of the Orwellian "doublespeak" gems from Lessig's lecture at the FCC en banc hearing:

  1. "Adam Smith" would have favored net neutrality regulation because all companies aspire to be "monopolists."
  2. The "burden of proof" is on those who don't want to change the law to mandate net neutrality.
  3. Being "conservative" means supporting FCC regulation of the Internet.

First, I literally could not believe my ears when Professor Lessig had the unmitigated gall to blatantly misrepresent in his lecture that if Adam Smith were to talk to the FCC that day, that Adam Smith would find a quote from his laissez-faire, free-market tome "Wealth of Nations" -- to somehow defend Professor Lessig's call for preemptive FCC regulation of the Internet. 

Google co-founder admits to discriminating against US content to improve search results

Google co-founder Sergy Brin, one of Google's most avid net neutrality proponents, candidly admitted today in Google's 1Q08 earnings call with investors, that Google "improved" its international search quality by "demoting non-country search results" on Google's improved country home pages.

This is interesting for a few reasons.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths