Google is big. And getting bigger. In the online advertising world they have now become unavoidable and so far they suffer no rivalry. They are also projecting to take over competitor doubleclick but the merger is still under investigation. Grossman’s point in this article is that Google obviously has all the means to massage piles of data about users and usage patterns and even do evil things with them but that Google doesn’t have an obvious vested interest in using this data in the wrong way, or rather that it has yet to be proven that it has. To put it in her words: “And shouldn’t the company actually commit the crime before we punish it?”. In other words, a lot of our fears around privacy are more related to rumour than fact. I think she has a very good point.
- 2008 survey by Privacy International entitled ‘A Race to the Bottom’ (privacyinternational.org), in which Google ‘came last among a selection of large internet companies and was dubbed “hostile to privacy”‘ (Source: Guardian)
- Guardian article on that subject (Wendy M Grossman, Thursday July 26 2007)