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Isn’t the ongoing Google-bashing over privacy just a bit of tripe?

March 03 0 Comments Category: Posts

With all the writing lately about Google’s new privacy policy I have spent some time thinking about tracking of web surfing, targeting of ads, and how what Google is now doing compares to other web behemoths like Facebook, Twitter and Apple.

Google is getting so much flak for their privacy policy change, but while the sharing across services of personal data at first sounds like a scary biggest brother like prospect I don’t see the sinister threat that the EFF is hinting at in their post on how to remove your Google web history.

Following the guideline of “better safe than sorry”, a week ago I did remove my web history up to now and paused the recording of data. Now that I have read a lot of the flurry of information posted on the topic, I think I’ll switch my web history back on. Not that I “trust” Google, but it’s hard for me to see what ill acts they can do with the data I generate as I roam around the web, using the free (well, I actually pay for Gmail storage, but as good as) and excellent services they provide.

It seems to me that the best part of this brouhaha in the media simply stems from the very fact that Google publicly stated that they will consolidate data across their services (to make privacy easier to understand and deliver better experiences to their users). In practice, nothing much changes in terms of how data is collected or how you as a user can control it.

The change is combining data across messaging, video watching, search, photo sharing, social services and address book… …sounds just like what Facebook and Twitter have been doing all along but with greater transparency and the ability to pull your data out via Data Liberation Front.

Quotes like “Google is putting advertisers’ interests before user privacy” (Nick Pickles, Big Brother Watch) make me wonder, especially a week like this where the web’s been abuzz with news articles about “social advertising” following the recent revamp of Facebook Pages. Now, if there ever was a company that needs to focus on advertiser’s interests, what with the current IPO and Zynga (one of Facebook’s very important sources of revenue) starting up their own platform, it’s Facebook. Let’s all watch very closely what they are doing.

Leek and tripe with a nice, sharp red: 40 Maltby StreetIf that quote had instead been “Google is putting insurance companies and Big Pharma’s interests before user privacy” and there had been any cause to believe that, I would worry. Now? Not so much.

What we actually really need are companies that can compete with Facebook, to give alternatives and healthy competition. What better safeguard against misuse of personal information than having an alternative to go to?

So hey. Here’s to “free” services and a more exciting web as envisioned by one of the most powerful giants in the space.

Oh, and speaking of tripe, you have to go down to 40 Maltby Street on a Saturday, have a nice sharp red with your leek and tripe piping hot from the open kitchen. Truly, truly great.