Google's self-serving "innovation without permission"

Something that Alan Davidson, head of Google's Washington office, said at our NVTC net neutrality debate yesterday has been troubling me. He said Google believed in "innovation without permission."

While "innovation without permission" may be a useful mantra in encouraging Google folks from not getting bureaucratic and to "think outside the box" -- it's very troubling because it seems it is their public policy too.

I guess it means Google doesn't need any property owners' permission to innovate.

  • That must be why the publishers are suing them over digitizing their books without permission.
  • That must be why the newspapers are suing them for using their headlines and photos without permission.
  • That must be why trademark owners are suing them for using their trademarks for commercial purposes without permission. 

What a buzz kill to have to ASK for permission to innovate. Doesn't everyone understand that Google is just "liberating" that property for the common good and just earning a little commission along the way for their altruism? What's the harm in that? They are not "doing evil" are they?

An interesting quote in yesterday's Wall Street Journal article "Tailoring Ads to email users, Google has some poor fits'."

  • "Gmail creator Paul Buchheit sneaked the ad technology into a Gmail test version even after a Google executive tried to persuade him not to and it stuck. (Like it or not, it is mandatory for Gmail users --)"

Seems like "innovation without permission" may be spawning a reckless culture that disrespects anyone or anything that stands in its way. Innovation uber alles.

Doesn't this sound like a Sarbanes Oxley type internal control problem that could be generating enormous liabilities for shareholders?