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Latest Publicacy Arguments Against Privacy -- Part X of Privacy-Publicacy Faultline Series

Two Google leaders separately proposed two new publicacy arguments against Internet privacy that I had never heard publicly before. 

  • These new publicacy assertions, underscore the core premise of this series, that there is growing tension on the privacy-publicacy faultline meaning online privacy earthquakes are coming. It's less a matter of if, but when.
    • FYI: Publicacy is the antonym of privacy and it is the belief and/or business model that online information is public, not private.  

First, Vint Cerf, Google's Internet Evangelist was quoted by InternetNews saying: 

  • "Privacy is evaporating rapidly, but on the other hand that lack of privacy induces transparency." 
  • The article explains: "In other words, in Cerf's view, we have less privacy but at least there's a greater chance to see what everyone's up to."
  • Since Mr. Cerf has linked privacy and transparency, someone should ask Mr. Cerf/Google publicly if privacy or transparency is more important to Google and to the average Internet user.

Second, in discussing the proposed European Data Retention privacy rules, the FT reported   Google co-founder "Mr Page said that data retained by Google was valuable and could be used for the public good, such as predicting flu outbreaks. Watching for trends in Google searches - such as people looking for flu medication - can forecast the beginning of an epidemic up to two weeks ahead of health authorities, he said."

  • The less of these logs we retain the more likely we are to all die from an epidemic,” Mr Page said starkly. He did not say, however, whether Google had had foresight of the current Mexican flu epidemic." [Bold added]     

In implying that Google may have a Government-like public-safety/Centers for Disease Control role to play in saving multitudes of lives in the future -- as justification for not being subject to new European Data Retention Privacy rules -- Google apparently is implying it has an obligation and liability to share this private information for the public good when it so determines it would be in the public interest.  

  • Since Google's co-founder has linked Google's potential inability to retain private records for a long period with an assessment that it is "more likely we are all are to die from an epidemic," someone should ask Google/Mr. Page:
    • What would be the standard/principle that would govern what types of information should be retained longer for public safety/public good and what types of information should not be retained? 
    • What liability/responsibility would Google assume for protecting lives or doing public good, if that was the basis for a regulatory exemption from privacy rules?
    • What would be Google's principles/process in agreeing to supply private user information to governments which request it in the interest of the public good, and would all governments have the same access to private information?
    • How would disputes between Google's determination of privacy vs. public good and a Government's determination of privacy vs. public good be resolved?      


Privacy-Publicacy Faultline Series here:

  • Part I: The Growing Privacy-Publicacy Fault-line -- The Tension Underneath World Data Privacy Day 
  • Part II: Implications of User Location Tracking
  • Part III: Extreme Publicacy -- Does Privacy Stand a Chance?
  • Part VI: Why FTC’s Behavioral-Ad Principles Are a Big Deal
  • Part V: Privacy prevailed in Facebook's privacy-publicacy earthquake
  • Part VI: Do People Own Their Private Information Online?  
  • Part VII: Where is the line between privacy and publicacy? 
  • Part VIII: "Privacy is Over"
  • Part IX: "Interventional Targeting? "Get into people's heads"