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Google's No Privacy by Design Business Model

Popular bipartisan interest in safeguarding consumers privacy in the U.S. and Europe confronts Google with a core strategic problem because Google's targeted advertising business model is no "privacy by design" and no "privacy by default."


  • Google bet wrong and big in assuming that since technology made it so much easier to track and profile users for targeted advertising, users would just accept the new loss of privacy and users and governments would never enforce user demand for choice to protect their privacy.
  • Google's all-in company bet on openness, transparency, and sharing, was also a strategic bet against robust privacy, security, and property protections.
  • In choosing to brand itself as the penultimate "White Hat" player promoting "openness," Google has effectively designed its business, architecture, and brand to be the main "Black Hat" player on privacy.


Google's No Privacy By Design model is unique.


  • No one else's stated mission is to collect and organize all the world's private and public information.
    • Simply, Google's mission by design is to maximize, not minimize, the private information Google collects and stores.
  • No other company has designed its entire hardware and software architecture to put all of its information into one global, fully-integrated, "BigTable" virtualized database, where by Google's own admission, Google cannot tell anyone exactly where there private information is geographically located at any given time.
    • Simply, Google has designed its database to fully integrate private info with all other info, so by design it is difficult for Google to fully remove any individual's private info from the BigTable database, which is what most users desire if given a real choice.
  • No other company's competitive advantage is so dependent on collecting, analyzing, and leveraging everyone else's collective private information.
  • No other company can track all users, advertisers, and publishers on the net in most every information dimension and technology mode, in order to uniquely achieve Total Information Awareness.
  • No other company is as opaque and misleading as Google in how pervasively and invasively it tracks and profiles users on the Internet.
  • And no other company is so fundamentally anti-privacy that it equates users' desire for privacy with censorship. Google's tack here implies that people who want privacy are censors and favor censorship of Google's "freedom of speech" to use people's private information publicly.

What's the evidence of Google's No Privacy By Design model?

Social: Recently Google indicated that Google's Social media effort is essentially uber-personal-profiling by design. Per ATD, Google's Mike Cassidy said: "We actually do try to map to one true person... The more we can do to associate content to one person the better..." [Google calls it] "...AuthorRank..." "We measure everything at Google..."


  • Simply, by design Google is trying to out-profile FaceBook for advertisers.


Contextual Discovery: In December, Google began signaling a new line of business Google calls "contextual discovery" which is simply Google tracking your location and then pushing ads to you that you do not request based on where you are. Google Senior Executive Marissa Mayer explained contextual discovery as search without search: "The idea is to push information to people."


  • Simply, by design Google's model is creating a new business that combines and leverages Google's ability to better track and better profile a user than any other company.
  • As acting CEO Schmidt  has said: "We know where you are... and what you like."


Wi-Spy: When wardriving to collect wifi addresses around the world, Google had to be aware that there was a privacy-friendly way to map WiFi signals, i.e. just collecting a WiFi address and signal strength, versus the privacy-invasive way Google chose to map WiFi signals, i.e. collecting all available signals, including private emails and passwords. Google chose the most privacy-invasive technique to collect maximum amount of information available because it was "technically public," i.e. unwittingly unencrypted by the user.


  • Simply, by design Google collected the maximum amount of private info available via WiFi, despite FBI warnings that that approach could be considered illegal wiretapping.


Android: Google's Android business model is to give the Android operating system away for free because Google views Android smart phones as tracking devices that can't be turned off, even if the user thinks they have turned them off. See here.


  • Simply, by design Google gives away its Android operating system for free to drive usage because Google knows it gives them extremely valuable tracking information on unsuspecting users that Google can monetize via its mobile search monopoly, its Google-Admob mobile in-app monopoly and its new contextual discovery line of business.


Google Books: In the Google Book Settlement Google opposed abiding by the privacy restrictions libraries recommended. Librarians have strongly opposed the tracking of what people read because the information could be used by the government to prosecute people for their beliefs.


  • Google by design opposed any substantive privacy protections for readers of Google's digital books because Google's business model is based on monetizing users reading tastes and behaviors.


In sum, as the irresistible force of support for "privacy by design," and "privacy by default," collides with the immovable object of Googleopoly's no-privacy-by-design, and no-privacy-by-default business model, expect it to become increasingly clear that Google is the industry's main privacy "black hat" player.


  • The evidence is overwhelming that Google's model is at loggerheads with the basic privacy protections that the vast majority of Internet users want.