Tag Archives: Privacy

Google Enjoys Too Much Good Media Coverage

Google Logo officially released on May 2010

I have made the claim that the media doesn’t give Google enough scrutiny and that the company often gets underserved favorable press. This is a major reason I started this blog in the first place, so that the average person out there can see what Google is really all about.

I remember seeing articles recently claiming that Google currently has the best reputation among any company in America. This is very disturbing considering all the sordid details I have been posting about Google’s lack of privacy, their pitiful ethics, their lies, the incessant lawsuits, and even criminal investigations. It’s disappointing and saddening that so many Americans put so much trust in this company – it just leaves me shaking my head and I think to myself “if only they knew better”.

I came across three really great articles comparing Google to Microsoft. I want to share these articles with you, but please don’t view this as me trying to sell Microsoft to you. I’m just using the articles to illustrate media bias and to show you how much Google has changed over the years.

The article published by InfoWorld’s J. Peter Bruzzese is excellent and lays out evidence to argue that the media unfairly bashes Microsoft way too often while Google’s errors are conveniently overlooked. He writes,

“I’ve noticed an unfair, ongoing trend: If Microsoft does something a little off, it gets bashed into the ground for it. But if Google… missteps, it generally gets mild reprimands and even support from the media and those drinking the Kool-Aid.”

You can read the rest of his article – titled “Microsoft in the media: Unfair and unbalanced” – by clicking here

Ever since I started this blog earlier this year I have been reading about the comparisons people are making between Microsoft and Google. These comparisons argue that Google has really changed for the worse over the years. As some of you probably already know, Google’s infamous unofficial motto is “don’t be evil”. In the early idealistic days of Google the company didn’t want to be like other established tech giants (i.e. Microsoft) because they perceived them as representing negativity and as being old-fashioned. But now people are starting to notice that little ol’ Google ain’t all that different from Microsoft – actually, some argue, that Google is worse now.

The article published by Forbes gives you 7 similarities between Google and Microsoft – perhaps now the pot should stop calling the kettle black– to read the Forbes article, please click here.

Finally, a very interesting article appeared on The Daily Beast website by Dan Lyons. The author spent 30 days using nothing but Microsoft products to compare it with Google’s products. He wanted to see if Microsoft can win him over and if Google’s products are really worth keeping. To find out what he concluded you gotta read the full article for yourself – click here

Google is currently enjoying much of the general public’s trust– but what is most hopeful is that this is slowly changing. As more people become knowledgeable and fed-up with Google’s antics, their arrogance, their invasion on our privacy, and other wrongdoings we will finally see Google fall off its throne. As any good business person will tell you, the most important thing in business is rightfully earning the trust and admiration of the public – once you lose this you’ve lost everything.

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Huge Fine Against Google For Violating Privacy Is Imminent

Apple Safari icon

The other day the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a strongly worded report condemning Google’s privacy violations and the company’s deliberate obstruction of an investigation into the gathering of sensitive data off personal computers. 

The FCC was deeply disturbed by what Google did but they’re hands were pretty much tied and couldn’t take serious action against Google. The federal agency fined Google $25,000 for impeding their investigation and they said what Google did was technically not illegal. According to PCWorld, this is because the laws are not up-to-date with technology. What Google did was obviously an invasion of privacy and SHOULD be illegal but Google seems to have gotten away scot-free because there aren’t laws that protect Americans from criminals who steal their personal data off unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.

Anyway, I came across an article yesterday by the Mercury News stating that Google is about to be hit hard by another federal agency, this time it’s the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). As you all should already know, the FTC has been in the middle of conducting their investigation on Google’s illegal circumvention of Apple’s Safari Web browser.

The Wall Street Journal exposed Google back in February for deliberately bypassing the privacy and security settings of Safari users. Apple set the default setting on its Safari browser to maximum security to protect their users from tracking companies – Google hated this and used a secret code to bypass this security setting. This exposed millions of Safari users to tracking for months without them every knowing about it. Immediately after the Journal released their story several lawsuits against Google popped up.

Now, according to the Mercury News, the major fine against Google is imminent. The newspaper spoke to a source who says that the FTC will take action against Google within a month. The FTC already has a consent order against Google which was put in place late last year. Google violated the privacy of their users when they launched their failed social networking tool called “Buzz”. After an investigation, Google agreed to a settlement that would require the company to regularly submit a compliance report to the FTC and they agreed to two decades of close monitoring from the FTC.  Google also promised never to violate the privacy of their users or any company’s users – evidently they couldn’t keep their promise.

Google faces a fine of $16,000 per violation per day. There were millions of Apple users affected and victimized by this invasion of privacy so you can imagine that the fine could be colossal. Let’s hope the FTC puts Google in its place and hits them hard – Google definitely deserves it.

For more information:

PCWorld, “Google Says Snooping on Wi-Fi Networks Isn’t Illegal” – click here

Mercury News, “Google target of new federal privacy probe” – click here

Computerworld, “Privacy watchdog, lawmaker push for Google probe” – click here

The Register, “Google faces WHOPPING FTC fine for Safari privacy gaffe” – click here

The Hill, “FTC official: Sharing on social sites ‘can’t be forced’” – click here

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Federal Agency Fines Google $25,000 For “Deliberately” Impeding Investigation

Seal of the United States Federal Communicatio...

It was reported yesterday that the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined Google $25,000 for not cooperating with an investigation over Google’s massive invasion of privacy involving its Street View service.

The FCC said that Google “deliberately impeded and delayed” its investigation. Google made it very difficult for investigators to gain access to employees and hid important evidence. Google did not answer emails and the company even tried to hide the identities of the employees involved in the privacy violations from two years ago.

In 2010, Google’s Street View cars collected very private information from unencrypted home computers. When Google was caught doing this it apologized and said that it didn’t deliberately try to capture private data. Soon after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated and sided with Google’s explanation that it was a mistake. Although the US didn’t take the massive privacy violation seriously, European countries were more concerned.

Now the FCC has come out and exposed Google’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation. This is really embarrassing for a company that claims it’s so transparent about everything it does and is cooperative with regulators. This is not the first regulators have complained about Google’s secrecy, arrogance, and unwillingness to cooperate with investigations. The French data protection agency currently investigating Google’s new privacy policy said that Google neglected to contact them before implementing their controversial and intrusive privacy policy.

The $25,000 Google is now forced to pay will do nothing to the company’s bottom line. Google raked in about $40 billion last year. Over 90% of Google’s revenues come from advertising – this means that Google makes money by selling your personal data to advertisers. This is the reason Google consolidated their privacy policies into a singular policy – it makes it easier for the company to figure you out and it’s more profitable. A Google spokesman said that the company is on a mission to combat against “the faceless Web”.

Google paying a $25,000 fine is like an average person paying a one cent fine – but don’t get too hung up on the amount of that fine. The biggest hit Google received from this new report by the FCC is its reputation. Most people think way too highly of this company and if more reports like this come out to expose Google’s dirt then the better it will be for the general public.

I love what Christina DesMarais, PCWorld, wrote in her article:

“…if Google’s uncooperative behavior is true as the FCC maintains, the obvious question is, ‘What is Google hiding?’ Consumers and advocacy groups have often criticized Google’s seemingly insatiable appetite for personal information, such as its recent consolidation of its privacy policies so as to have a better view into user behaviors and preferences. Because of the amount of attention those privacy concerns have garnered, you’d think a policy of transparency on Google’s part would bode well with those who have doubts about whether or not the company can be trusted with increasing amounts of personal data.”

Things that make you go hmmm…

For more information:

The New York Times, “Google Is Faulted for Impeding U.S. Inquiry on Data Collection” – click here

PCWorld, “Google Hit With $25K Fine, But FCC Finds Street View Data Collection Not Illegal” – click here

CNET, “FCC nails Google with $25K fine for dragging heels in StreetView probe” – click here

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You’re Not Google’s Customer You’re Google’s Product

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

I found this useful mini slideshow on the DailyFinance website titled “5 Signs Google is Selling You Out”. I’ve discussed everything in their slideshow on this blog in other posts but it’s a nice summary and review of some of the things Google is up to.

To see the slideshow head on over to their site – click here

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Consumer Reports: Internet Users Are “Very Concerned” About Privacy

Big Brother 2007 (UK)

People are really worried about their online safety and they want to know more ways to protect their personal data. Internet users do not want weak laws that don’t go far enough – they desperately are seeking tough laws to make sure that their personal data doesn’t get exploited by companies or criminals.

A new national survey released by Consumer Reports found that 71% of respondents said they were “very concerned” about companies selling or sharing their personal data without their full permission. As we all should know by now, Google’s new privacy policy took effect on March 1st of this year and this allows the company to combine data of its users across its many products and services. Google wants to create a more detailed profile of exactly who you are so that they can sell it…ah, excuse me….”share” that information about you to advertisers. Google makes over 90% of its revenues from advertising and rakes in about $40 billion/year.

According to this new Consumer Reports survey (and many others like it) Internet users are fed-up and strongly disapprove of the way Google, and companies like it, handle their personal data. The survey also found that 65% of smartphone owners are very concerned about applications (apps) having access to sensitive information about them. Many of these apps have access to your photos, your location, your address list, etc. People often do not even realize that they are so exposed when their using their smartphones with these apps loaded on.

Ioana Rusu, Regulatory Counsel for Consumers Union (the public policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports) said:

“This survey confirms that most Americans are very concerned about their online privacy. A lot of people are seriously worried about how their personal information is being exploited. Your personal data ought to be treated with respect, and you ought to have more of a say in how it’s used.”

It’s clear what people want, let’s hope there are people listening to give them what they’re asking for.

For more information:

Mashable, “Worried About Digital Privacy? You’re Not Alone [SURVEY]“ – click here

Consumerist, “Consumer Reports Survey Confirms That We’re Worried About Online Privacy” – click here

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New Search Engine DuckDuckGo Soars Thanks To Google’s Lack Of Privacy

Image representing Duck Duck Go as depicted in...

There is a new kid on the block and he’s giving Google a run for its money. The search engine DuckDuckGo has seen a huge spike in search queries. The little search engine that could has been experiencing a surge in traffic since January and things keep getting better for it. If you recall, Google announced that it would be introducing its new more intrusive privacy policy back in January.

DuckDuckGo is only four years old and it’s gaining popularity among many people who want to keep their searches private. DuckDuckGo promotes itself as being very respectful of the privacy of its users. Its founder, Gabriel Weinberg, knows that this is what people want – people are desperate for privacy on the Internet nowadays, especially since Google has been recently exposed as a massive violator of the privacy of its users (and even Apple Safari users).

Mr. Weinberg earned two honors degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has worked in the tech world for some time now and has been really successful. He started DuckDuckGo in 2008 because he wanted to do something useful for the public.

DuckDuckGo traffic is up 227% and reaches nearly 1.5 million unique daily searches. This is really impressive for such a small search engine. It obviously doesn’t exactly present an imminent threat to Google yet, but DuckDuckGo is comfortable with their improving numbers.

DuckDuckGo vows to continue to respect the privacy of its users and is constantly working on ways to improve their search engine. Google better watch out :)

Thomas the Tank Engine

For more information:

The Toronto Star, “Search engine DuckDuckGo soars on un-Google-like privacy policy” – click here

TPM, “DuckDuckGo Aims To Beat Google With New Search Features” – click here

The Next Web, “Look at that DuckDuckGo! Daily search traffic is ballooning…” – click here

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Andrew Keen: Google Is Declining

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Author and entrepreneur Andrew Keen had an excellent article published by CNN the other day and it’s worth the read. He brings up excellent points and sums up some of the major issues surrounding Google lately.

He writes:

“I suspect that 2012 will be remembered as the year when Google’s fortunes began to wane. The company won’t disappear, of course. But with an inexperienced new CEO, a badly botched new privacy policy, a marked decline in public trust and a looming EU antitrust investigation, it is hard to see Google dominating today’s Web 3.0 world from the same unchallenged position as it once controlled the Web 2.0 economy.”

Hmm, very interesting.

Read more – click here

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Eric Hague: Dear Google User…

Big Brother 2002 (UK)

Eric Hague is a humor writer – a funny letter he wrote pretending to be a member of Google’s privacy team was published by The Wall Street Journal today.

Google seems to think it knows what is best for us, knows everything about us, and is smarter than us – the amusing piece by Mr. Hague has a little fun with all that.

Head on over to The Wall Street Journal and read the full letter titled “Dear Google User: We’re Sure You’re Going to Love This” – click here

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Google Plus Ad Campaign Is Boring And Fails To Promote Struggling Site

Google really doesn’t “get” social. It seems to me that they lack the ability to understand how people want to connect and how they interact. Google executives like Marissa Mayer have admitted that Google has fallen behind in the social aspect of the Web and they are desperately trying to play catch-up.

Well, today Google UK uploaded a video on YouTube advertising the company’s social networking site called Google Plus. The campaign to get more people to use Google Plus doesn’t impress me much. Their video is titled “Google+: Tom” and it shows a man going through life on Google Plus. We see the man add his wife to his circles, it then shows the couple’s newborn child, and other significant moments in life. The video ends with a future look at the aged man as he reminisces about his youth with his friends in a video chat.

Sorry, but the video is so dumb.

I find it so pretentious, over-the-top, and confusing. I don’t like how the video doesn’t show the consistent and linear progression of the man’s life. In my first passive viewing of the video I got confused about whose life was being shared – the dad or the child? When it switches from the little boy in the green school uniform to the prom scene, I thought it was the little boy grown up ha-ha…but it was actually the dad.

I had to take a closer second viewing of the video to catch the stuff I missed.

Afterwards the narrator goes on about being a solider, being in a cannon, being a Justice, and a wise soul ha-ha. It finally ends with a corny aged look of the man with his friends, and he then adds his grandchild to his circles.

I know what this video is trying to be, but I don’t think it successfully accomplished it. It doesn’t pull on the heartstrings, it doesn’t excite me, and it doesn’t make me want to use Google Plus. I don’t think the video is mainstream enough and, quite frankly, it’s boring.

Also, I really don’t want Google keeping decades of personal data of my life  “well saved” on Google Plus. No thanks!

Now compare this video with a video uploaded by Facebook last year, which Google pretty much tried to copy. The Facebook video is so much better and gets to the point. Facebook’s video shows the life of a man from birth to present-day. It’s easy to follow along, it’s organized well, the music is energized, it’s fast paced, it pulls on the heartstrings, it’s funny, and it just works.

The Facebook video feels fun and fresh – while the Google video comes across as old and high-brow. Facebook is more inclusive while Google is more like an exclusive dull club for a particular type of person.

I’m gonna have to take pass on Google Plus – it just doesn’t do it for me.

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