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Why Google's Privacy Controls are a Joke -- Lessons for FTC/FCC

Google's latest privacy controls are a bad joke, certainly not sufficient to warrant the FTC completely absolving serial privacy violator Google from all responsibility in the Google WiSpy Affair, especially given that other law enforcement bodies have found misrepresentation of facts and violation of users' privacy.

 

  • Hopefully, the FCC's investigation of Google WiSpy will not look the other way like the FTC apparently did, when a Fortune 200 company with the industry's longest privacy violation rap sheet, was caught red-handed violating millions of Americans' privacy and found to have misrepresented facts and misled investigators, got off without any FTC sanction, oversight or accountability whatsoever.

 

Why are Google's latest privacy controls insufficient?

First, Google's leadership is clearly not publicly supportive of more privacy controls, but openly skeptical and defiant that Google does not need to alter its approach to innovation to better protect privacy and security.

Google Wi-Spy Was an Intentional Plan to Beat Skyhook Wireless

Google's 'Wi-Spy' vacuuming of all of everyone's WiFi signals was no "mistake" -- as Google has repeatedly asserted -- but part of a purposeful and comprehensive Google business expansion plan to enter, catch up and compete with SkyHook Wireless, Google's only significant competitor in mobile location services. (In September, Skyhook sued Google for deceptive and unfair trade practices and patent infringement.)

 

Why is the FTC AWOL on Google Privacy?

Congress needs to conduct oversight hearings to learn why the FTC is apparently giving Google special treatment, and more specifically why the FTC inexplicably dropped its Google StreetView spi-fi privacy probe without any charges, before it even learned all the facts, and without any accountability mechanism in place to protect consumers or prevent repeat violations.

Google's wanton wardriving in 33 countries for over three years secretly recording people's WiFi transmissions, including full emails and passwords, arguably is the single broadest privacy breach in the Internet era. And the FTC did nothing. And the FTC sees no need for any further action. Amazing.

What's wrong with this picture? A lot. A better question might be what's right with the FTC-Google privacy enforcement picture?

 

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...

10 Questions for Google's Tax Dodge

Top Ten: 

We learned today that Google has the lowest foreign tax rate of the top five U.S. tech companies, an eyebrow-raising 2.4%, and that Google "cut its taxes by $3.1b in the last three years using a technique that moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda," per an outstanding investigative expose by Jesse Drucker of Bloomberg.

This exceptional tax dodging feat, while reportedly technically legal, nonetheless raises some important questions that no one has yet asked Google.

 

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.

 

Google Price Index: Insider Trading & Market Failure?

Google announced it is working on an economy-wide Google Price Index, but has not decided whether to make it public, per Google Chief Economist, Hal Varian, who spoke at the National Association of Business Economists conference this week.

 

  • This development has under-appreciated implications for insider trading and also spotlights how Google's online dominance of market-relevant information suggests market failure and a new potential systemic vulnerability to the integrity of global capital markets.

 

I.  Insider Trading

In March, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said: "One day we had a conversation where we figured out we could just try and predict the stock market... and then we decided it was illegal. So we stopped doing that."

Now any hedge fund (or market regulator not born yesterday) understands that if Google is actively working on a Google Price Index, Google has not stopped trying to use its uniquely comprehensive and timely, repository of sensitive market information to predict information highly useful to predicting the stock market.

 

FreePress to FCC: Ignore Everything but FreePress

FreePress continues to urge the FCC to ignore everything, but Title II chauvinism.

 

  • "If Genachowski reestablishes (the FCC's) authority and moves on net neutrality, he will be viewed as a heroic FCC Chairman. If he doesn't, he will be viewed as one of the agency's greatest failures."
  • In other words, the FCC is either totally with FreePress or totally against FreePress.
  • There's no negotiation, collaboration, bipartisanship, comity, reason, or compromise in FreePress' radical playbook, only total victory or slash and burn devastation.

 

The list of what FreePress expects the FCC to ignore is growing to tragicomic proportions.

FreePress urges the FCC to:

 

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?

 

 

 


Systemic Flash Crash Vulnerability: Financial Crisis Root Causes: Part IV

The SEC/CFTC report on the May 6th "Flash Crash" helps confirm that automated index trading technology was a contributing cause of the 2008 Financial Crisis and why recent financial reforms are not enough to address the ongoing destructive systemic vulnerability that automated index trading technology increasingly poses for financial markets going forward.

 

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