Compare And Contrast Google To Microsoft On The Privacy vs. Ads Question

from the which-one-is-more-trustworthy? dept

Last week, we wrote about a WSJ article that discussed some of the tensions inside Microsoft over whether to side with advertisers or consumers when it came to privacy features in Internet Explorer. This week, the WSJ appears to have a similar article, about a similar debate within Google. I actually expected the story to be quite similar to the Microsoft story, but, honestly, I was pretty surprised at the lack of any “there” there in this latest article. It appears to take a single document by a mid-level staffer, who tossed out a bunch of random ideas for brainstorming purposes — many of which, it appears, everyone at the company knew were non-starters — to suggest that the company was “agonizing” over competing privacy and advertiser interests. These sorts of documents get created all the time, and don’t mean anything really.

There are some interesting nuggets in the piece, which suggest that the real struggle over privacy issues and Google will come down the road after Sergey and Larry leave the company. As it stands, those two still appear to have pretty strong views on protecting users’ privacy, correctly realizing that not doing so will actually do more long term harm to both consumers and Google itself. But, not everyone is good at recognizing the long term impact of profitable, but short-sighted, short term decisions.

If anything, the article does serve as a reasonable reminder that for most of us, Google really does have access to a tremendous amount of potentially sensitive material, and basically everyone has put their trust in the fact that the company won’t abuse this access to data. To date, the company has actually been quite good about all of this, but there’s certainly no guarantee that will always be the case. If anything, the increased scrutiny on Google should have the company looking to put in place a framework now to “forward protect” people’s data, in case future Google execs change tactics. I think that could go a long way towards retaining people’s trust.

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Companies: google, microsoft

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Comments on “Compare And Contrast Google To Microsoft On The Privacy vs. Ads Question”

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Michael Kohne says:

Long term impact of short term decisions

“not everyone is good at recognizing the long term impact of profitable, but short-sighted, short term decisions”

I’m not sure that’s as true as we tend to think. Of late I’ve come to believe that most execs DO understand the long term impact, they just don’t care – they want the short-term benefit and they figure they’ll work around the long term problems later. Or they figure they will be long gone before the long term shows up.

Sean T Henry (profile) says:

Re: Unsure

Instead of making an agreement to offer a faster connection for Verizon/BB providers. What Google should do is keep the services on YouTube the same as they are now BUT offer a faster hosting service for a fee. It would be like what web hosting places do offer a free service but if you want more space or in this case faster service. Place the paid accounts on a different server that would have a better Mbps to Gb transfer ratio.

interval (profile) says:

The Problem

Google is still a very profitable company, of course. The problem they face, however, is expansion of those profits. As a public company share holders are going to want to see healthy growth; and Google as a company are just beginning to start the scramble for that growth. Nothing up to now is really working. Its not bad; there just isn’t any “insanely great” (to use a handy Jobsism) new profitable products coming down the pike. If Google continues to fumble about for more profit growth the pressure to dip into that huge pool of private data may become unbearable.

When I signed on to use gmail all these… wow, must be 10 years ago now, I didn’t use my actual name or anything. I use a pseudonym. Anything else that requires my actual information is sent via a pop server that I control. See, when I see a company motto that reads “Do no evil” I always make sure I’m insured when I use that company’s services.

ECA (profile) says:


If you can prove the MS deliberately setup windows to Admit adverts/free access to your system, Without your knowledge or consent.

1. They charged you for commercial purposes. You paid for windows not the adverts.
2. They opened your system for any person to maliciously have any access to your system without your knowledge.
3. your browser is supposed to protect you and MS sells a program ($99 per year) to access your computer. That remote access has given them the ability to Infect and destroy your data.
4. they purposefully redesigned JAVA and other internet languages to GIVE access to those with VALID INTERNET certificates and you have/had no Viable way to TURN IT OFF.

Sounds like a very good lawsuit to me.

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