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Online Privacy

Google's Regulatory Outlook 2008

The big question for investors is why?

  • Why has Google felt the need to rapidly build up a new lobbying operation in D.C. (rivaling Microsoft's in size) and why did Google just unveil, with great fanfare, its new cutting-edge office space in DC with a party that attracted 650 people and many VIPs?
    • What does Google know that investors may not?

Google's Regulatory Outlook:

Federal Trade Commission


Has Tim Wu lost his credibility? in his tunnel-vision piece: "Has AT&T lost its mind?"

Tim Wu is losing credibility fast. 

  • His new piece in Slate: "Has AT&T lost its mind? A baffling proposal to filter the Internet" is myopic, uniformed, and borderline hysterical.

Mr. Wu please calm down. Put away any sharp objects and please listen to some reason. 

Google's ranked the LEAST ACCOUNTABLE in One World Trust's 2007 Global Accountability Report

What may be the most troublesome aspect of Google's extraordinary ascent to power in the marketplace and in our society is Google's exceptional lack of accountability.

On what basis can I say Google has "exceptional lack of accountability"?

  • First, the independent One World Trust just released its 2007 Global Accountability report in which it ranked Google lowest in its world survey of leading institutions when it comes to accountability.
    • "The Report applies the Global Accountability Framework’s four dimensions of accountability – transparency, participation, evaluation, and complaint and response – to examine the capabilities of transnational actors to be accountable."
    •  Why Does Global Accountabilty Matter?" "...their decisions and actions can have a profound affect on people’s daily lives."
    • "Those at the bottom... need to raise their game."

More on how #1 Google's Internet tentacles reach and "hold" onto #4's "private" data

ITNews has an interesting take in its piece "Google keeps what erases."

  • "AskEraser may remove user search query data from's servers, but deleted data may live on, in part at least, on Google's servers. That's because Google delivers the bulk of the ads on, based on information provided by Ask.."

 I flag this in the context of the Google-DoubleClick merger because not only does Google:

  • Have dominant search market share (65% per Hitwise);
  • Enjoy exceptional network effects;
  • It's hidden market power tentacles reach farther than most appreciate...
    • What the ITNews article tells us is that there is a whole hidden layer of market power/influence by the #1 search engine over its #4 "competitor." 

The market is even less competitive than I outlined in my Googleopoly white paper.

It reminds the astute watcher of how Microsoft used non-disclosed contractual arrangements to acquire more market power in the 1990's...

When CNet questions others motives it needs to have clean hands in its own disclosures

While I am a frequent and usually appreciative reader of CNet's Declan McCullagh Iconoclast column, I have to challenge Declan's recent piece "House Republican targets Google on Privacy Grounds"  when he questions the motives of the Senior Republican of the House Commerce Committee for caring about privacy in the Google-DoubleClick merger, when Declan and CNET did not disclose that Declan's wife now works for Google.

I was also surprised and dismayed that Declan's post included a CNet chart from August to try and put Google in the best light on privacy but did not mention the other side of the coin -- that Privacy International study recently ranked Google as worst in the world on privacy issues.


Busted again! Google ranked worst in "One World Trust" survey on openness and transparency

The Financial Times reported that One World Trust is publishing the results of a new world survey that ranks Google worst in the world on openness and transparency.

  • This worst in the world ranking comes on the heels of a recent Privacy International survey that also found that Google was worst in the world on privacy.
  • Now two independent and respected non-governmental groups have independently found that Google is worst in the world on the values that the Google claims are very important to Google: openness and privacy.

One World Trust "conducts research on practical ways to make global organisations more responsive to the people they affect, and on how the rule of law can be applied equally to all.  It educates political leaders and opinion-formers about the findings of its research." 

  •  Out of a possible score of 100 Google got a 17. Ouch. Even the math whizes at Google can see that is not a good score.
    • And sense the top performer, UNDP, got an 88, their is no grading curve that will save Google's bacon on this one.

It is good to get additional third party confirmation of many of the themes I have been blogging about for over a year and a half on Google.

How Principled is Google about free speech when it opposes the "Global Online Freedom Act"?

An editorial by the New York Times on free speech points out that Google and other big Internet companies in fact oppose legislation that promotes free speech for those who most need it around the world.

  • "Last January, Representative Christopher Smith of New Jersey reintroduced the Global Online Freedom Act in the House. It would fine American companies that hand over information about their customers to foreign governments that suppress online dissent. The bill would at least give American companies a solid reason to decline requests for data, but the big Internet companies do not support it. That shows how much they care about the power of information to liberate the world." [emphasis added]

It seems all this Google-funded effort to cloak net neutrality as a "freedom of speech" issue by, FreePress, Public Knowledge and other Google-supported pressure groups, is just a cynical tactic and political ploy because Google actually opposes free speech when the rubber meets the road -- like with the "Global Online Freedom Act."

  • In other words, Google supports freedom on speech when it benefits Google's business, but opposes it when it does not help Google's business.
  • I just wish Google would be honest and forthright about their supposed "don't be evil" principles...  


Google's poodle -- is leading the privacy protest against Facebook -- which spurned Google...

The New York Times reports today in "Facebook Users Protest Online Tracking" that set up the online petition protesting Facebook's new program that automatically tells your 'friends" what you just bought online.

  • I personally sympathize with users who want to guard their privacy -- which is not easy with the new Facebook program.

However, the reason I am blogging on this development is to spotlight the interesting connection here and also's "situational ethics."

Let's connect some key dots:

Read a funny spoof on Google's galatic ambitions in an old The Onion satire....

Knowing I appreciate good satire, and especially good satire on Google, someone sent me the link to a 2005 spoof on Google that rings surprisingly true today...

Don't miss The Onion's: "Google plans to destroy all information it can't index."  

That DARK "cloud" on the Net's horizon is Google's dominant cloud computing/storage ambitions

The Wall Street Journal article yesterday: "Google plans service to store users' data" is another stark reminder of the very dark cloud on the Internet's horizon -- Google's dominant "cloud computing" capability (i.e. Google's world-leading parallel processing computing grid and storage centers, which Google uses to cache a more-than-daily copy of every page of every website on the Internet and also every Google users' clickstream history.)

  • According to the WSJ, Google is planning to offer a free way to store all the information on people's computer hard drives in Google's "cloud" -- ostensibly to give consumers the 'freedom" to access their computer's files from any where, whether or not they are at their computer.

Now why would Google want to give you that type of service for "free"? Because they want even more personal and total information about you than they have in your search history, in order to sell to advertisers even more info about your most private "hot buttons."

  • If you are a free Google gmail user, Google already reads your email to send you targeted advertising. 
  • If you use Google's free documents or spreadsheets, you may remember from a previous post of mine that: