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Abusing American's privacy: part of Google's competitive advantage?

Google made news recently by adopting new privacy measures, which puts a spotlight on a real big public policy disconnect.

What I find most interesting about Google and the subject of privacy, is the glaring incongruity of these facts:

  1. Google, as the dominant search engine with ~50% of the market, arguably has more and deeper private and intimate information on American consumers than any other company in America;
  2. Google has among the weakest privacy policies of any major corporation in America;
  3. Google is not subject to any specific privacy regulations or regulator like other similarly situated major corporations that have lots of sensitive consumer information -- like financial services firms and communications companies.

Let me put that more simply:

  • The company that poses potentially the most risk to Americans privacy, is the only one that is not subject to privacy regulations or oversight by a regulator.

The supreme irony here is that Google may have more financial incentive to abuse American's privacy than any other company in America. Why?

  • Google makes its highest profits off of those ads that they can most finely target to people's known areas of interest.
  • How does Google finely target ads?
    • They combine all the fine private detail they have on a consumer, their search history, their scraped email content (for gmail users) and the personal identifier info they have on millions of Americans.
    • The result is that Google has an amazingly intimate and frighteningly accurate "private dossier" on every American that uses Google's search engine.

I think it is very interesting that Google is strongly pushing net neutrality legislation/regulation to address the potential and alleged problem of differential treatment of Internet traffic, but they strongly oppose any regulation of their privacy practices which are among the weakest in the country and which present potentially the largest threat to American's privacy as any company.  

Bottom line: Google has the most private/intimate info on American consumers and the least privacy safeguards/regulation.