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Online Privacy

"Google's emergence as one of the scariest companies on planet"

The San Diego Union-Tribune "gets it" -- in  its editorial on Google:

  •  "The Google Threat, Needed: a guaranteed private search engine."  

A couple of my favorite parts of this dead on editorial:

  • "Google's emergence as one of the scariest companies on the planet continues with a story in the Financial Times describing the Silicon Valley firm's goal of maximizing and cataloging personal information gleaned from every user's use of its vastly popular search engine."
  •  "... but should mortify Google's users – because the company has never come close to adequately acknowledging the vast privacy concerns raised by its already massive database."
  • "... The potential for government snooping, harassment, financial manipulation, blackmail and all sorts of online crime is stunning."

Add to the list of scary things Google is working on is a "truth meter" where Google CEO Eric Schmidt posited in FT just before the last US congressional election, that in the future Google could help voters gauge in real time whether a politician was telling the "truth" or not.

House "spyware" legislation oblivious to Google's "pryware"

The Post Gazette reports today that:

  • "The House passed legislation Tuesday to combat the criminal use of Internet spyware and scams aimed at stealing personal information from computer users.

    Spyware, said bill sponsor Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., "is one of the biggest threats to consumers on the Internet." She and other lawmakers cited estimates that up to 90 percent of computers in this country are infected with some form of spyware.

    Spyware is software that secretly collects information about a person or organization and sends it to another entity without the user's consent..."

Good ClickZ article on pros & cons of Google-DoubleClick

Harry Gold on ClickZ gives a good and balanced review of the "Pros and cons of Google and Doubleclick."

  • As an industry insider, he gives a sophisticated analysis that is worth the read.  
  • This was the most interesting factoid to me:
    • Doubleclick's "DART does have a hold on over 70 percent of the ad-serving marketing, according to a March 2007 CIMA/William Blair study. Also on the paranoia side of the equation: the data Google and DART collectively have on the population at large are already rather Big Brotherish, never mind Google extending its cookies' reach onto DART's network of sites.

Microsoft Ballmer's insights into Google-DoubleClick merger

I always take time to read interviews with CEOs because I always learn something.

What did he say that was relevant to the Google-DoubleClick?

First, he made the case why the Google-DoubleClick merger is a big deal:

  • "I do think that it would be worth the regulators taking time to understand this market, much the way they took the time to understand other parts of the technology business, because the whole future of the media and advertising will move to the Internet. "
  • "What we think of television today, what we think of newspapers, magazines, you name it -- all of these things are going to move to the Internet and be funded by advertising. And so we are talking about a pretty important part of ... people's basic lives." 
    • What this means is that Google-Doubleclick is about the evolution and the future of advertising. 

In response to a question about being third in search -- Ballmer said:

Exposing DoubleClick's misdirection on Google-Doubleclick merger

The WSJ yesterday had an illuminating interview with David Rosenblatt CEO of DoubleClick about its acquisition by Google.  

Mr. Rosenblatt engaged in some pretty effective "spin" so I thought it would be helpful to shine a brighter light on some of his pat answers that were... how should I say it... less than forthcoming.

In response to a question about whether he could reassure web publishers that Google did not have too much market power, he said: "Google shares revenues with publishers so it makes sense that their interests are pretty much aligned." 

Google has an "Open Net Coalition" Problem... already!

I always love to juxtapose a couple of stories to point out irony.

Yesterday, I blogged that Tech Daily reported that the Google gang, AKA ItsOurNet ... will be relaunched in May as the "Open" Net coalition.

Well today I laughed out loud when I read in Tech Daily, that Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales is promoting a new collaborative search process like the wiki online encyclopedia.

  • Wales said: "I believe Internet search is currently broken and the way to fix it is to build a community whose mission is to develop a search platform that is open and totally transparent."   

Seems like those who really know "open" don't think Google is worthy of its self annointed name of the "Open" Net Coalition.

Another "secret" way Google spies on your private lives

Danny Sullivan of Advertising Age spotllights another systematic Google privacy invasion in his great new article: "Google's latest power grab."

Check this out:

  • "Millions have installed the Google Toolbar, which includes a PageRank meter that rates sites' popularity on a scale of zero to 10. To work, that meter has to report to Google which page is being viewed. That means Google sees every site some toolbar users are visiting."

    "Until last week, the meter was switched off by default. Now Google pushes a version with the meter enabled and encourages surfers who already have the toolbar to flip the switch. The enticement? Doing so allows those surfers to view a log of all their web visits. In addition, that web history will influence how pages rank in the search results they see."

One more way Google spies on you, but of course it's only for your own good!

Google is amassing an amazing profiling database on people that would be extremely frightening if it fell into the hands of bad people: criminals, stalkers, predators, con artists etc.

  • This private vault of information better be guarded better than Fort Knox.
  • If it isn't, they will have a whole lot of explaining to do.
     

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths