Privacy

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
advertising, privacy

Companies:
google, microsoft



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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  1. icon
    Steve R. (profile), 11 Aug 2010 @ 8:18am

    Marketing Trumps All Rights

    A sad reality in the US is that any and all actions that "foster" economic growth are automatically deemed "legitimate" no matter how repugnant they may be.

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