Video Of The Day: from The Onion on Google and privacy
Google Opt Out Feature Lets Users Protect Privacy By Moving To Remote Village

There’s been a slew of articles lately about Google and privacy, and recently one about Google monstering poor little media conglomerates. Just paranoia (or competitors panic-mongering), or is there a legitimate concern regarding a looming information monopoly?

Jeff Jarvis offers a non-Google-specific differing view on the whole principle of privacy in Transparency benefits us all, even when it hurts:

But I think we need to shift the discussion in this era of openness from the dangers to privacy to the benefits of publicness. It’s not privacy that concerns me, but control. I must have the right and means to keep my disease secret if I choose.

By revealing my cancer, I realise benefits, and so can society: if one man’s story motivates just one more who has the disease to get tested and discover it, then it is worth the price of embarrassment. If many people who have a condition can now share information about their lifestyles and experience, then perhaps the sum of their data can add up to new medical knowledge. I predict a day when to keep such information private will be seen by society as being selfish.

Then there’s the competition ratcheting up with the merger of Microsoft and Yahoo. Could it actually benefit our privacy concerns, if the data giants start competing on the grounds of privacy guarantees?

Categories: media, technology

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3 replies

  1. Creepy.
    It didn’t take long for Google to go from being the bright, cheery, quirky company staffed by nerds and geeks, to become the worldwide monopoly not giving a crap about anyone else, did it?

    • It’s certainly an interesting narrative that’s starting to build around the company, but I wonder how much of it is justified by actual events and how much of it is simply anxiety (and envy from some).

  2. Some people from the Free Software space are concerned, in general, about ‘cloud’ issues: vendor lock in (Google is much better about this than, say, Facebook, you can export your mail and docs and calendar from Google in standard formats, try backing up your FB page), privacy, control, ownership issues around comments made by one person in another person’s space, copyright land grabs and assignments and voluntary freeing. They’re all talking at If you’re interested in the software side of such issues it’s interesting to read along there. The mailing list comes with the usual caveats about unvarnished geek conflicts.
    Re competing on privacy, there’s general cynicism among software people that consumers will put their money (business) where their mouth is when it comes to either security or privacy issues. At this stage I largely share it I think: it’s not a great way to differentiate yourself because only a small number of people care, in relative terms.

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