Search Peeping: Does Google value protecting American's privacy?

Robert Scoble of Naked Coversations fame (great book Robert! Thank you.) posted a very interesting 7 minute video of Google's Lobby on his widely read Scobleizer Blog:

  • "Here’s a silent video (I was shooting some “B Rollâ€? at Google the other day and thought it would make a fascinating video for you to watch). What is it? It’s the lobby of building 41 over at Google’s headquarters. It’s a little more than seven minutes long. What does it show? The cool screens where you can sit and watch random searches that are being done on Google right then."

After initial fascination like Scoble with reading real random searches as they were occurring, upon reflection I found it very troubling. Why its interesting is exactly why its troubling. It's interesting because none of us in the public domain ever get to see what anyone else is searching for at a specific point in time, because that is potentially very personal/private search information -- which I thought until now -- was supposed to be guarded as private information by Google. 

What's troubling is that if Google handles American's private information so cavalierly as to use it for perfomance art in public, what other private information are treating cavalierly that we don't know about? 

Is anyone else troubled that Google doesn't see anything wrong with "search peeping" or a public "search peep show?" What do privacy advocates think?

 

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Is Microsoft no longer a member of ItsOurNet? Trouble in paradise?

What's going on at ItsOurNet? 

On the ItsOurNet.org website under "The coalition" section, Microsoft is no longer on the list of: "These organizations support legislation to achieve net neutrality:"

Google, eBay, Amazon, Yahoo are still listed, what happened to Microsoft which was one of the five big companies bankrolling the effort?

  • Why no press release or blog about this interesting development? Cat got their tongue?

Could the organization be getting a little too radical, regulatory, government intrusive, or anti-market-forces for their taste?

AT&T merger: Subverting the will of Congress on net Neutrality is not the "public interest"

Net neutrality proponents love to wax eloquently about respecting the "principles of democracy and freedom' -- for others that is -- but not themselves, becuase that would interfere with accomplishing their agenda. Apparently, for many net neutrality proponents, the "ends justify the means." Â Ã‚ 

The Itsournet coalition is effectively "mugging" the AT&T-Bell South merger over net neutrality. They are pressuring the Democratic Commissioners to hold up the merger which has already been approved by the DOJ and all the states, over a "fifth net neutrality principle."

Brilliant post by Nick Carr on Lessig's "digital communalism" -- sounds like a Socialized Internet

 

Please read Nick Carr's brilliant post on Lessig's "Web 2.0lier than thou". It gets to the heart of what Stanford Professor Lawrence Lessig, one of the leading net neutrality functionaries, is really all about: "digital communalism." I couldn't agree more with Nick on this point! I have long called net neutrality a "Socialized Interent" so I think the term digital communalism is right on point. Lessig clearly trusts the state more than he trusts people.

Here's a great snippet from Nick's post that capture's the problem with Lessig's worldview:

The Rise of Googleism: "What's yours is ours" in Googleopia!

A must read for anyone following net neutrality or Google closely is the excellent NYT's article "We're Google. So Sue Us." by Katie HafnerIt helps lay bare the moral relativism in Google's business ethics -- where there is nothing wrong with selling other's property without their permission.

As "arguably the most powerful Internet company" and the corporate ringleader for net neutrality regulation of all things broadband, it is instructive to delve into what kind of leader the net neutrality movement has hitched its wagon to.

"Legislation favors socialism over capitalism" my FT letter to the editor on Lessig's Op Ed

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/fd88803c-6232-11db-af3e-0000779e2340.html

Legislation would favour socialism over capitalism

 By Scott Cleland

Published: October 23 2006 03:00 | Last updated: October 23 2006 03:00

From Mr Scott Cleland.

Sir, I have to challenge Lawrence Lessig's gross misrepresentation of net neutrality legislation in his article "Congress must keep broadband competition alive" (October 19).

Prof Lessig asserts that net neutrality legislation is "not a massive programme of regulation. Itis instead a very thin rule for broadband providers that forbids business models that favour scarcity over abundance".

First, the most draconian form of regulation possible is a ban. Second, Prof Lessig's vision of net neutrality is a "socialised internet" that would effectively outlaw capitalism for broadband in America. A fundamental incentive of capitalism is competitive differentiation and innovation which creates "scarcity" but also stimulates demand and growth. Under Prof Lessig's theory and logic, patents and trademarks should be outlawed because they "favour scarcity over abundance". That is their purpose, in order to encourage innovation, commerce and economic growth.

In sum, Prof Lessig's "very best network neutrality legislation" favours socialism over capitalism.

Scott Cleland,Chairman, NetCompetition.org(an e-forum on net neutrality funded by broadband companies),

McLean, VA 22102, US

NYT article cites allegation of Google discriminating against small websites/competitors

For those who truly believe in the principle of net neutrality, you may be troubled to read the New York Times article "We're Google. So sue us." The article provides an allegation of Google effectively blocking a small competitive search-engine/website. (Searchopolist Google's share of the sarch market is 50+% and rising steadily at the expense of faltering #2 Yahoo and fading fast #3 Microsoft.)

It will be interesting to hear what SavetheInterent, Common Cause, ItsOurNet, and the many other organizations that purport to support net neutrality on principle have to say about this. Let's see if net neutrality is truly a "principle" or just a political and competitive double standard as it unfortunately appears to be.

"Googlentitlements" -- Please read the Wash Post's "Building a 'Googley' " Workforce"

If you thought the Google founders' public fight in July in the WSJ over who got the King size bed in their custom retrofitted luxury 767 party plane was an eyebrow raiser, you have to read the Washington Post's expose on Google's culture in "Building a 'Googley' Workforce."

While the article is headlined as "Corporate culture breeds innovation" it is most interesting as a expose into how Google employees are pampered with what I call "googlentitlements."

The article starts literally with their toilets. "Every bathroom stall on the company campus holds a Japanese high tech commode with a heated seat. If a flush is not enough, a wireless button on the door activates a bidet and drying." Other generous perks reported by the Post include: "free meals three times a day, free use of an outdoor wave pool, indoor gym and large child care facility; private shuttle bus service to and from San Francisco and other residential areas." "In addition to glass cubicles, some staffers share white fabric "yurts" tentlike spaces that resemble igloos." (What's that about? Must be special.) "Outside they whiz by on company-provided motorized scooters." (Walking is so yesterday.)

"Each of its 11 campus cafes is run by an executive chef with a theme catering to the culture of people working in that building." "On a recent visit, chief executive Eric Schmidt moderated a discussion about women and war with Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda to a standing room only crowd. In the back, a Google employee with a long silver braid held his pet African Grey parrot on his finger." (Priceless.)

Moyers: The Net @ Risk proved unabashedly biased -- Moveon.org's undisclosed infomercial?

After seeing how unabashedly one-sided and biased the preview of Moyer's show was on Net Neutrality which I described in my Blog last week -- I can't say I was surprised that the actual show proved to be equally unabashedly one-sided and biased. Â 

So what's the objective basis of my assessment of bias?

  • If you listen to the program, you will find that they devoted just under 37 minutes to Net Neutrality (excluding the segments on fiber, municipal wireless and media consolidation) and out of that time only two opponents of net neutrality regulation Mike McCurry of Hands of the Internet and Chariman Fred Upton of the House Commerce Subcommittee) got less that three minutes of air time.
  • To be fair to Mr. Moyers even though he was not fair in his program,  Mr. Moyers would sometimes say in his leading questions... Opponents of Net neutrality say... however, those bones were hardly enough for a fair airing of this important topic.

This was not journalism, but basically a paid advertisement that was not fully disclosed.

Lessig's "thin rule" for Net Neutrality is really "thin gruel" in his FT editorial

Stanford Law Professor Lessig's proposed "thin rule" on net neutrality is really "thin gruel."

I hope Professor Lawrence Lessing doesn't let his students get away with playing as fast and loose with the facts as the professor did in his Financial Times editorial: "Congress must keep broadband competition alive."  It also seems as if Professor Lessig could benefit from a brush-up tutorial from one of his colleagues on how to accurately evaluate the competitiveness of markets.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths