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Online Safety

Where's the FTC on Google SpyFi?

With Canada, Spain, the UK, and 38 U.S. states all cracking down on Google's wanton wardriving spyfi scandal, where is the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the supposed lead agency on protecting consumers online privacy?

The FTC's silence and apparent absence from the online privacy enforcement playing field is particularly perplexing and alarming... because now it appears that we have a company that is out-of-control in tracking consumers' private actions online, and creating total information awareness power, while we have a supposed lead privacy regulator that appears not to be leading in protecting consumers' privacy...

Apple's Individualism vs. Google's Collectivism

Apple's CEO Steve Jobs is wise to publicly debunk Google's claim that: Google defines "openness" (aka -- good), and Apple defines "closedness" (aka -- evil).

 

  • As Google CEO Eric Schmidt said: Google's concept of "openness" is "much easier to understand by opposition" so he defined Google's approach as the "inverse" of Apple's.

 

Google is right that they are the inverse/opposite of Apple, but not in the way that Google claims -- being open/neutral vs. being closed.

 

10 Questions for Google Chauffeur

Google's blog post "What we're driving at" announced that Google has "developed technology for cars to drive themselves." Google stated: "Larry and Sergey founded Google because they wanted to help solve really big problems using technology... Our goal is to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people's time and reduce carbon emissions..."

 

This project raises some interesting questions no one has asked Google yet.

 

Google Schmidt: "China can be best understood as a large, well-run business"

In his latest display of no-self-awareness, Google's CEO Eric Schmidt, in an interview with the Atlantic, said:

 

  • "China can be best understood as a large, well run business... and China has roughly the following objectives: It wants  to maximize its cash flow; becoming the creditor, if you will, the bank of the world. And Second it wants to maximize both its internal demand as well as export demand. And the entire country seems to be organized around that principle."

 

Is Google's CEO the only sentient being on the planet that isn't aware that China is organized around the principles of China's National Communist Party?

"If China is best understood as a large, well-run business," why does Communist China censor and imprison their Chinese "customers" if they object too much to China's products and services?

 

 

 


Google's Deep Tracking Inspection -- a privacy nightmare

In one of Google's worst misrepresentations about privacy to date, Google's Head of Product Development for Google Enterprise, Matt Glotzbach, told the FT that Google did not believe that its new gmail feature -- that ranks emails automatically based on what Google's algorithm judges are the most important emails to be read first -- would raise any privacy concerns. "We're not creating any new information, we're leveraging information that is already there."

Unbelievable. This is grossly deceptive and untrue.

 

  • Google is claiming that new Google-created information analysis with sophisticated conclusions about importance and urgency, is "not creating any new information?"
  • How can Google claim this additional feature as an innovation or as new, if it is not substantially "new information" that Google is providing and using? Their logic is circular.
  • And under what warped sense of privacy does the notion of opening, reading, analyzing, and judging the importance of people's private electronic mail without their permission -- not raise "any privacy concerns!?"

 

By any measure this is what I would call Google's "Deep Tracking Inspection."

 

Big Brother Inc. Implications of Google Getting No-Bid U.S. Spy Contract

The top U.S. spy agency for mapping announced a no-bid digital mapping contract with Google on August 19th. However, after media inquiries, the agency modified the contract's no-bid format, but made clear "the agency's intention to award the contract to Google without entertaining competitive bids" -- per a Fox News story by James Rosen.

 

  • Wow. There are large and broad implications of this remarkable new development for: privacy, security, antitrust, Google's international business, and Government oversight.
  • The fact that this was announced in late August, when precious few are paying attention, should heighten everyone's Big Brother Inc. antennae.

Has anyone in a position of authority or oversight even begun to think through the irony and stupidity of contracting out the Nation's most sensitive intelligence gathering and analysis function to a company that has:

Don't miss the Onion's Google phone spoof!

Good satire like this is rare and precious. 

Don't miss The Onion News Network's new spoof of a Google phone that is paid for with "automated whisper advertising."  

  • It even spoofs how Google Buzz could send automated ads to your contact list using an automated version of your own voice!

The comedy news clip is only 2 min 34 seconds... after a 15 second ad. 

Google's now a little pregnant on Do Not Track

In a big positive and under-reported Google privacy precedent, Google now has agreed to a new important privacy protection principle that people should be able to opt out of having their homes included in Google's StreetView. Just yesterday in Germany, Google went live with a new StreetView op-out offering for Germans.

First, if it is a good consumer protection principle and option for German citizens, why shouldn't it be a good policy and freedom for all citizens to enjoy in the 23 countries where Google has rolled out StreetView?

Why Privacy Is an Antitrust Issue & Why Google is its Poster Child

The fateful policy decision by the FTC/DOJ to exclude privacy as a factor in antitrust enforcement has fostered a perverse market dynamic where many online advertising companies now effectively compete on the basis of who can most take advantage of consumer privacy fastest, rather than compete on the basis of who can best protect consumer privacy. 

  • Consumers' online privacy Waterloo was the FTC's failure in its 2007 review of Google-DoubleClick to fundamentally understand the online advertising business model, i.e. that consumers are not the "customer" of online advertising, but the "product" that Google and DoubleClick effectively sell to advertisers and publishers.
  • In getting it wrong that consumers are the real "customer" in Google's online advertising brokering-triangle of advertisers, publishers and users, when users don't pay Google at all, the FTC fundamentally misunderstood consumers' real interests.
  • The FTC unwittingly aimed the worst part of this business model's privacy arbitrage at consumers' vulnerabilities rather than aiming it at protecting consumers' privacy. 

This analysis will show: 

  • The implications of exempting privacy from antitrust enforcement;
  • Why privacy is an antitrust issue;
  • How consumers are harmed by exempting privacy from antitrust enforcement; and
  • In conclusion, how Google has become the "poster child" of this problem.  

I.   Implications of exempting privacy from antitrust enforcement.   

37 States now investigating Google StreetView snooping

37 States are now involved in a "powerful multi-state investigation" of "Google's Streetview snooping" per a press release from investigation leader, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who released a new follow-up letter to Google asking for more information and clarification of its representations to date. 

The letter shows the investigation is very serious. Its prosecutorial exactness strongly suggests that investigators believe Google has not been forthright in its answers to date and that it could be covering up material information to the investigation. 

  • Several questions in the letter also indicate that the investigators are seriously concerned about the integrity and completeness of Google's systems of internal controls and supervision to ensure the safety and privacy of consumers. 

What appears to be the most problematic line of inquiry is whether or not Google tested this software before it was used in public to collect private information on consumers. 

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths