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More on Google as biggest threat to people's privacy

Following up on my House testimony on Internet privacy and how Google is by far the biggest threat to people's privacy, let me share some tid bits.

First, John Naughton of the Observer in the UK did a good piece: "Google is watching you. Ready for your close up?"      

  • I was glad to see someone else pick up on my characterization of Google's mission as "megalomaniacal."
  • A big thanks for Mr. Naughton flagging some hysterical video shorts on YouTube about Google as Big Brother.

Second, if you are interested in how secure Google's system really is and how seriously Google responds to warnings of breaches in their privacy "walls", see this post: "Gaping Hole in Gmail privacy."

  • What is most disturbing is if you read the comments to the post Holden's blog flagged, Andrew Brampton said that he reported this data breach to Google in March and again in April with no response or action by Google.
  • This is further evidence of a key point in my thesis that privacy is not a priority in the Google culture despite Google's privacy lip service and spin to the contrary.

Third, Comm Daily reported Friday that Germany's privacy chief is concerned about Google's current efforts to take pictures of every house and building in Germany because Germans' privacy could be abused by the CIA to spy on Germans or by fraudsters for other bad purposes. The German privacy chief wants new German rules that require prior consent of those individuals concerned. 

Finally, at my testimony before Chairman Markey's hearing on Internet privacy, I tried to rebut a misleading characterization about Internet privacy by Chairman Markey but since he controlled the gavel, I was unable to make my rebuttal. Hence I make it here since I have the "Internet Freedom" to do so. 

  • Chairman Markey tried to imply that broadband ISP's were a greater threat to Americans' privacy than anyone else because Google and Yahoo were but one site but all traffic to all sites passes over broadband pipes that could be subject to deep packet inspection. 
  • Let me explain the huge flaws in this characterization.
    • First, deep packet inspection is already subject to longstanding US privacy laws. Broadband companies have policies, procedures, and practices built into their cultures to respect their users' privacy. Chairman Markey was implying that law abiding companies would recklessly break the law with impunity and without concern for their customers, the law or their businesses. That is ridiculous.
      • This "assume-the-worst with only a scintilla of evidence approach is the standard operating procedure of the net neutrality movement. 
    • Second, Chairman Markey is looking the other way when Google is:
      • not subject to any Federal privacy law,
      • has a business model that is based on collecting and using very private information for business gain,
      • is the most far-reaching web application in use today, and
      • collects more types of information on more people than any company in the world. 
    • It is clear to me that the Chairman, sought to demonize ISPs as threats to privacy to bolster his case for net neutrality when it is obvious that broadband ISPs are subject to privacy laws and that the companies backing net neutrality, like Google and Yahoo, are not subject to US privacy law at all.
      • To be fair to the Chairman, I was glad that he acknowledged at the end of the hearing that search engines would be captured in his comprehensive review of privacy law next year.  

Bottom line: Internet Privacy has emerged as an important public policy issue in Washington, and respecting Americans' privacy is not Google's strong suit.