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Online Privacy

How Google and China are alike

Ever since Google announced it suffered a cyber-attack from China, Google's legendary PR machine has gone into overdrive, opportunistically framing the conflict as a good versus evil story, and positioning Google as the Internet's benign superpower defending free expresssion, and as a new kind of business that puts morality before money.   

  • Google understands it is easy to politically demonize China, because China's pervasive censorship and trampling of fundamental freedoms and human rights offend all freedom-loving people.

However, those willing to look behind the curtain of Google's self-serving political rhetoric here, will discover that many of the attributes that offend so many people about China, Google shares to an unfortunate extent.

  • Let's review four significant strategic similarities between Google and China -- brought to you in Google's own words.

First, Google's leadership, like China, has affirmatively chosen to not be democratically accountable.

Do you know where your Google data was last night?

Yale University has postponed its adoption of Gmail in part because of concerns that Google will/can not tell Yale where or in what country their private information/data will be stored -- per Yale Daily News.

  • "Google stores every piece of data in three centers randomly chosen from the many it operates worldwide in order to guard the company’s ability to recover lost information — but that also makes the data subject to the vagaries of foreign laws and governments, [Yale computer science professor Michael] Fischer said. He added that Google was not willing to provide [Yale] ITS with a list of countries to which the University’s data could be sent, but only a list of about 15 countries to which the data would not be sent."

It appears that Google continues to organize information for the benefit of Google's own engineering efficiency, simplicity and convenience -- without regard to what is best or safest for its users.

  • WHERE users private data is stored by Google has immense implications for users' privacy, security and whether or not their private data/communications are vulnerable to subpoena, with or without their knowledge.  

This is further evidence of Google's cavalier approach to privacy and security of users.





Must-see Australian clip: joining the dots on Google

Thanks to John Simpson's post at the, which flagged this succinct and illuminating 2 min 46 sec video "produced by Hungry Beast, a weekly news show on Australian television puts Internet giant Google's huge ambitions and gargantuan reach into dramatic perspective."

THE BEAST FILE: GOOGLE from Hungry Beast on Vimeo.

It is one of the best and most accessible pieces I have seen for the average person to get a better perspective on all things Google.

Big Brother 2.0: Google-NSA through foreigners' eyes

Today's New York Times front page story "Google's computing power betters translation tool" by Miguel Helft spotlights that Google arguably owns and operates "the world's largest computer." The article quotes a Google  engineering VP explaining that Google's unparalleled computing power enables Google to "take approaches others can't even dream of."

Combine the world's largest computer, with the best automated translation capability for most all of the world's top languages, with reports from the front page of the Washington Post that Google proactively sought help from America's top spy agency, the NSA, for its cyber-security vulnerabilities, and it is not surprising that foreigners would be growing increasingly wary of Google and the extraordinary potential power that Google holds over them. 

So what do foreigners increasingly see Google doing?

First, they increasingly see "The United States of Google," a term Jeff Jarvis coined in his book on Google. Shortly after Google publicly accused the Chinese Government of being behind or complicit in the cyber-attacks on Google:

Has Google increased its China censorship? Doesn't that violate the Internet's First Amendment?

New research from Piper Jaffray suggests that Google actually may have increased its censorship by ~30% in China since Google grand-standed on the world stage in January pledging that it would no longer censor search results on  

Per Business Week's Blog, Piper Jaffrey' analyst Gene Munster: 

Don't miss The Onion's latest Google Privacy Satire -- its hilarious!

Click here to read The Onion's latest satire about  Google's privacy invasion problems. Its hilarious just like the Onion's other satire video on Google's "Opt-out Villiage."  

  • Why it is so poignant and funny scary is that Google has all this private information on everyone and is increasingly integrating it for real, just as this recent article from the Register shows. 

If you enjoy these satires, please check out more at the humor section. Enjoy! 





Did Google Over-React to China Cybersecurity Breach? -- "Security is Google's Achilles Heel" Part VII

It appears Google impetuously over-reacted to the big cyber-security breach of Google and a reported ~30 other companies. Google alone publicly blamed China and only Google publicly pledged to stop censoring search results in China in retaliation.    

What is the evidence that Google impetuously over-reacted here?

First, Forbes reported: "Researchers Call Google Hackers 'Amateurs' -- A new report says the attack on the search giants network was far less sophisticated than it has claimed." Specifically:

  • "A great play is being made about how sophisticated these attacks were," says Damballa's vice president of research Gunter Ollman. "But tracing back the attacks shows that they were not sophisticated, and that the attackers behind them have a history of running multiple botnets with a variety of tools and techniques," many of which, he says, were far more rudimentary than Google or the cybersecurity industry has portrayed."

People incorrectly assume that because of Google's popularity, brand and reputation for innovation, that Google is  secure and cutting edge on cyber-security -- when in reality they are not.

Facebook & Google in Race to Privacy Bottom? Part XX in Privacy vs Publcacy series.

It appears as if privacy is the common casualty of Facebook and Google's competition to outdo each other in forcefeeding a change in society's privacy norms.

The WSJ reported: "Facebook glitch sends email to wrong recipients." 

  • If that isn't people's worst email nightmare, what is?  

    This just happens on the day that Google for the first time "has indexed content from the world's largest social network [Facebook] in its real time results" per Digital Beat.

    • Now if you/or Facebook make a mistake with Facebook settings, the world will know it.  

    Newsweek Daniel Lyons got it right in his excellent column this week: "Google's Orwell Moment: On the web, privacy has a price."

    • His conclusion is on the mark and disturbing:
      • "But what is the value of your list of friends? If it's not worth much, your membership on Facebook may be the deal of a lifetime. If it's incredibly valuable, you're getting massively ripped off. Only the techies know how much your info is worth, and they're not telling. But the fact that they'd rather get your data than your dollars tells you all you need to know."

    The takeaway here is that there is a big publicacy stampede to monetize social media web 2.0 and people's privacy is getting trampled in the process.



    Publicacy vs Privacy Series:

Will Google Stop Censoring Search Results in China per its Pledge? New Ticker

For Immediate Release

February 22, 2010

Contact: Scott Cleland




Will Google Stop Censoring Search Results in China per its Pledge? Announces Google China Censorship Pledge Accountability Ticker

Watch Google Buzz video satires from &

It appears Google Buzz' privacy fiasco has generated a different kind of "buzz" than Google had hoped for.

  • Two different groups, and have created hilarious videos on Google Buzz.
    1. Don't miss's video "Google Threatens to kill users".  
      • (2 min 3 seconds and don't miss the ending) 
    2. Also don't miss the's video "You're a Bossy Pants, Google" by Peter Jeffrey.
      • (1 min 41 seconds)

If you enjoy these, there are other links to more short humorous videos on Google at the humor page of my watchdog site from The Onion, The Big Honkin, and The Vacationers among others.

Of the dozen or so humor entries at my personal favorites are:

  • "Google Roommates Episode I" from the Big Honkin (3 min 3 seconds); and
  • "The Google Opt-out Village" from The Onion Network (2 min 9 seconds).

    Enjoy and pass them along.