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Conflict of Interest

Google's Regulatory Outlook 2008

The big question for investors is why?

  • Why has Google felt the need to rapidly build up a new lobbying operation in D.C. (rivaling Microsoft's in size) and why did Google just unveil, with great fanfare, its new cutting-edge office space in DC with a party that attracted 650 people and many VIPs?
    • What does Google know that investors may not?

Google's Regulatory Outlook:

Federal Trade Commission

Antitrust:

Google co-founder's professor warns of Google's "technical arrogance: The system cannot fail"

Ken Auletta of the New Yorker discovered one of those rare window-into-the-soul insights about Google in his excellent in-depth expose on Google: "The Search Party -- Google squares off with its Capitol Hill Critics." I strongly recommend reading the full article but it's critical not to miss this insightful gem in Auletta's article quoted below:

Wikipedia entry into search exposes Google's non-"open" search

Wikipedia's late entry into the search business is reportedly motivated by concern that Google's search is not "open" and that too few players will control access to the world's information as "gatekeepers." 

As the New York Times reports in "Wiki citizens taking on a new area: search," Jimmy Wales, founder of the collaborative Wikipedia, is concerned about how closed and concentrated the search business has become.

  • Wales: “I think it is unhealthy for the citizens of the world that so much of our information is controlled by such a small number of players, behind closed doors,” he said. “We really have no ability to understand and influence that process.”

  • "As more people rely on search engines, companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have become the gatekeepers of the world’s information, Mr. Wales said. Yet little is known about how they select certain sites over others, he added." 

It is ironic that Google, which purports to be the high priest of openness, is considered closed by the leading open and collaborative brand and phenomenon in the world -- wikipedia.

Google jet's special NASA parking privileges -- Where's NASA's Inspector General on this?

NBC11.com of San Jose posted an interesting reminder about Google's unique, highly suspect, and special deal with NASA, in which Google's founders get special parking privileges for their 767 "party plane" at NASA's Moffet Field, which is conveniently located just seven miles from Google's Silicon Valley headquarters.

Where is NASA's Inspector General on this?

Is Google recording you without your permission? Google's clandestine voiceprint database...

Just when I have thought I have heard it all about Google thinking that the normal rules of ethical behavior simply don't apply to Google -- they come up with another of their heralded "innovations without permission" that just leaves me shaking my head in disbelief.

ParisLemon.com has a great post: "Goog-411 is the Ultimate in Ulterior Motives: its really about getting voice samples from you."

  • "They've hyped up a service, GOOG-411, making people think it for the betterment of man to have a free 411 service - when in actuality it was always all about getting vocal samples from people to perfect speech-to-text technology!"

Aren't we all familiar with the phone disclosure recording when we call a company that informs us that "this phone call is being recorded for training or quality assurance purposes"?

  • Otherwise, isn't it illegal to record people's conversations (voices) without their knowledge -- unless its disclosed or you have their permission?    

It only confirms a Google trait that I have driven home before that Google has no adult supervision or internal controls to speak of.

"Google Knols Best?" or should we say: "serfing" for Google?" yes "serfing" with an "e"

Google's latest business move to create "knols" should be sending shivers down the spine of any cognizant content publisher that cares about the future economics or growth of their online content. 

  • As Google explained in their blog announcement:
    • "At the heart, a knol is just a web page; we use the word "knol" as the name of the project and as an instance of an article interchangeably. It is well-organized, nicely presented, and has a distinct look and feel, but it is still just a web page. Google will provide easy-to-use tools for writing, editing, and so on, and it will provide free hosting of the content. Writers only need to write; we'll do the rest."

Engineers: P2P is not "fair" usage; Reverse Robin Hood: Bandwidth rich steal from bandwidth poor

Three times a year the Internet Engineering Task Force meets to discuss and work through major Internet issues.

  • To my delight, one of the technical issues they recently discussed has great import to net neutrality and the FreePress petition on Comcast's reasonable network management.
  • Kudos to Iljitsch van Beijnum who wrote "Growth of P2P leads IETF to debate "fair" bandwidth use" in ars technica.
    • His excellent article explains a new paper being debated by the IETF that raises the core question, if the voracious bandwidth appetite of P2P is "fair" to non P2P users.

The paper and the article point out that users of "unattended" P2P applications use dramatically more bandwidth than users of "interactive" applications like web browsing -- and then poses the question of whether this excess usage is fair. 

Van Beijnum points out that the paper's authors suggest that P2P users are using 500 times the bandwidth as average interactive users. Moreover, he points out that this assymetric bandwidth dynamic disincents an ISP from upgrading their network because the assymetry would make them even less competitive. 

The fundamental point here is a question of fairness.

Busted again! Google ranked worst in "One World Trust" survey on openness and transparency

The Financial Times reported that One World Trust is publishing the results of a new world survey that ranks Google worst in the world on openness and transparency.

  • This worst in the world ranking comes on the heels of a recent Privacy International survey that also found that Google was worst in the world on privacy.
  • Now two independent and respected non-governmental groups have independently found that Google is worst in the world on the values that the Google claims are very important to Google: openness and privacy.

One World Trust "conducts research on practical ways to make global organisations more responsive to the people they affect, and on how the rule of law can be applied equally to all.  It educates political leaders and opinion-formers about the findings of its research." 

  •  Out of a possible score of 100 Google got a 17. Ouch. Even the math whizes at Google can see that is not a good score.
    • And sense the top performer, UNDP, got an 88, their is no grading curve that will save Google's bacon on this one.

It is good to get additional third party confirmation of many of the themes I have been blogging about for over a year and a half on Google.

How Principled is Google about free speech when it opposes the "Global Online Freedom Act"?

An editorial by the New York Times on free speech points out that Google and other big Internet companies in fact oppose legislation that promotes free speech for those who most need it around the world.

  • "Last January, Representative Christopher Smith of New Jersey reintroduced the Global Online Freedom Act in the House. It would fine American companies that hand over information about their customers to foreign governments that suppress online dissent. The bill would at least give American companies a solid reason to decline requests for data, but the big Internet companies do not support it. That shows how much they care about the power of information to liberate the world." [emphasis added]

It seems all this Google-funded effort to cloak net neutrality as a "freedom of speech" issue by Moveon.org, FreePress, Public Knowledge and other Google-supported pressure groups, is just a cynical tactic and political ploy because Google actually opposes free speech when the rubber meets the road -- like with the "Global Online Freedom Act."

  • In other words, Google supports freedom on speech when it benefits Google's business, but opposes it when it does not help Google's business.
  • I just wish Google would be honest and forthright about their supposed "don't be evil" principles...  

 

Google's poodle -- Moveon.org is leading the privacy protest against Facebook -- which spurned Google...

The New York Times reports today in "Facebook Users Protest Online Tracking" that Moveon.org set up the online petition protesting Facebook's new program that automatically tells your 'friends" what you just bought online.

  • I personally sympathize with users who want to guard their privacy -- which is not easy with the new Facebook program.

However, the reason I am blogging on this development is to spotlight the interesting Google-Moveon.org connection here and also Moveon.org's "situational ethics."

Let's connect some key dots:

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths