You are here

Conflict of Interest

The Perils of Google's New War on Apple

Google has much to lose in its ill-advised PR and public policy war with Apple, its previous closest Silicon Valley ally.

Antitrust or Fiduciary liablility? Google's recent market behavior puts Google and its CEO Eric Schmidt in a lose-lose situation.

FCC & Google's Extreme Internet Makeover -- A Preview

At its Thursday meeting, expect the FCC to adopt Google's PR script to try and better sell the FCC's upcoming "Extreme Makeover" of Internet regulation.

  • The centerpiece of the FCC and Google's "extreme Internet makeover" plan is the creation of an entirely new, Google-inspired, regulatory classification called "Broadband Internet Connectivity Service" or BICS.
  • The BICS extreme makeover is designed to:
    • Enable the promotion of integrated "edge" products and services like Google Voice, Google TV, and Google's Chrome/Android operating systems; and
    • Empower the FCC to implement its National Broadband Plan on its own without additional Congressional authorization or action. 

Predictably, the FCC's Google-oriented-BICS-scheme has three fatal flaws -- making it a disaster waiting to happen. 

Google protesteth too much...

Google unwisely brought closer scrutiny to Google's public representation of its business model by pushing WSJ columnist, Holman Jenkins, to run this footnote/correction

  • "Google objected to a line in a column two weeks ago that summarized its business in part as "collecting data it can sell to advertisers." We didn't say "user data," but Google nonetheless wants you to know it doesn't sell any data directly to advertisers, and doesn't employ user data to sharpen the efficiency of its search advertising, but only its display ads."

With all of the controversy surrounding Google's business model (WiFi privacy-invasion investigations on four continents... a massive private data spill from Chinese hackers stealing Google's password security system... and increasing calls for the DOJ/EU to bring an antitrust case against Google), it seems particularly ill-advised for Google to be nitpicking about how Google wants to represent/misrepresent its business model to the public.

Let's parse Google's misleading nitpicking.

First, Google is being too cute by half in insisting its business is not as Mr. Jenkins succinctly encapsulated it to be: "collecting data it can sell to advertisers."

Google's goobristic permission policy: We never need your permission, but you always need ours

Google's CEO Eric Schmidt, dismissed the notion that Google was "arrogant" in an FT interview.

  • Mr. Schmidt: "The arrogance comes across because we trying to do things for end-users against organised opposition from stakeholders that are unhappy -- and they paint us as arrogant. But I am sure that all successful organisations have some arrogance in them."  

It seems to me that "the arrogance comes across" with Google because Google operates, and expects to operate, under a double standard -- where rules, laws and expectations apply to others, but do not, and should not, apply to Google -- because Google is somehow special.

The latest example  of Google's expectation to be treated differently and better than Google treats everyone else -- is Google's "permissions" policy (See the Goobris Series below for other examples.)

Google's "Total Information Awareness" Power -- A one-page graphic of all the information Google has

To help you picture both the enormity and unprecedented power of what Google knows about you and the world's information: public, private and proprietary, I have organized all the world's information types that Google collects onto a one-page chart/PDF: "Google's 'Total Information Awareness' Power."

For those who really want to understand Google and its impact on most everyone and most everything, please read and study this one-page chart/PDF, because much valuable work and insight has gone into it.

  • While the chart is visually packed with information that many may find difficult to unpack or digest, the chart itself is an apt metaphor for both how much information Google has, and also how difficult it is for all of us to get our head around all the information Google routinely collects and uses.

A short refresher on where the term "Total Information Awareness" came from and why it is aptly employed here.

FCC retransmission update can protect consumers

The FCC has a ready-made opportunity to protect consumers by approving the simple rule updates recommended in the pending Retransmission Petition.

  • The FCC has the authority and the obligation to protect consumers by updating the FCC's Section 325 rules with a functional dispute resolution framework and a mandatory interim carriage agreement during negotiations.
  • Without these common sense consumer protections, consumers unnecessarily will continue to be unintended collateral damage in someone else's commercial fight.

The petition is laser-focused on updates to the FCC's rules to protect consumers from being used as pawns or hostages in commercial disputes not of their making or interest.

It is highly instructive that opponents of the retransmission petition focus most all their argumentation on protecting the status quo, that unnecessarily puts consumers directly in harms way, and that does not directly address why consumers should not be protected as recommended in the petition.

What else does Google secretly track? Top 10 questions for privacy investigators to ask

Current privacy investigations of Google deserve to be much more comprehensive than just Google's latest StreetView wardriving scandal, given that:

Spiraling Privacy Scandals Becoming Googlegate?

Google's long-time cavalier approach to privacy and security are catching up to the company as its latest wardriving privacy scandal, appears to be spiraling out of the control of Google's legendary PR machine. 

First, the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent Google a tough investigative letter on its wanton wardriving of the U.S. The most problematic question for Google got to the root of Google's privacy scandals: "What is Google's process to ensure that data collection associated with new products and services offered by the company is adequately controlled?" This line of inquiry makes it clear this is not just a probe of this privacy incident, but of Google's systemic weaknesses in internal/management controls concerning privacy.

Google's Wanton WarDriving Scandal: Fallout & Cover-up

Google's wanton "wardriving," i.e. detecting, accessing, and recording residential WiFi networks in 30 countries for over three years, was not simply a "mistake," "inadvertent," or an "accident" as the Google's PR machine has spun it. The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming to anyone who bothers to examine it closely. 

  • Google's wanton wardriving was either: gross incompetence/negligence or wrongdoing
    • Government investigators must determine for themselves via subpoena, whether or not anyone at Google, in a supervisory or management position, knew that this private "payload" data was being collected, and whether or not this private data had been accessed, copied, analyzed, or used by Google in any way.

The case for why Google's wanton wardriving is more than just a "mistake."        

I.  Identifying the questionable practice: "Wardriving"

FCC's Dysfunctional Retransmission Rules Harm Consumers

The FCC's retransmission rules now perversely cause consumers to suffer unnecessary collateral damage in retransmission negotiations -- the exact opposite outcome the FCC wants -- in large part because the FCC's retransmission rules have not kept pace with dramatic competitive and technology changes over the last two decades.  

  • The FCC should, and easily can, protect consumers from becoming unnecessary collateral damage in retransmission negotiations by simply updating their nearly twenty-year-old FCC regulations with petitioned common sense modifications that ensure consumers never find themselves unnecessarily in the "bulls-eye" of the FCC's out-dated retransmission rules again.

To better understand how rules that possibly made sense in 1992, could produce predictably perverse and dysfunctional consumer outcomes today, think of the retransmission rules, like a regulatory "gun" that was originally and permanently pointed directly at a 1992 cable monopoly and no one else. 

Pages

Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths