It's all great, and I'm sure that the people responsible really believe what they wrote. But it's a big company, and just as lawyers can differ over the interpretation of a contract, privacy policies can be read in varying context. Beyond that, you have to catch somebody before you can prosecute them. Google's incredible wealth of personal information is too tempting to remain free of avarice.
There is a simple way for Google to eliminate all its privacy concerns: make it all open.
That is, make it possible for anyone, anywhere, to have access to everything Google knows about you and me, right down to ip address, date, time, pages visited (collected from Adsense data), and so on. They'd never do that, of course, and if they did we'd all be screaming bloody blue murder. And yet, that data is potentially available now, policy guidelines be damned.
Sometimes I think that openness is the only final answer. If you don't have privacy anywhere, your privacy can't be abused. Your behavior might change: if you know that video cameras are watching you wherever you are, you won't be breaking littering laws. If every keystroke you type at your computer is available to the world, you aren't likely to be soliciting sex from minors.
We'd lose a lot in such a world, and it's impossible for most of us to imagine going willingly to such an Orwellian existence. Yet technology may make it impossible for us to avoid: if people can record our activity without our knowledge, it might be better to just make everything transparent so that we know what everyone else is up to also. Knowledge is power, as they say, and fortunes are made and lost with secrecy. Our world is slowly becoming more transparent, so keeping secrets is more and more difficult. Perhaps the day will come when we'll just drop all the veils.
Google isn't dropping much right now, of course.
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More Articles by Tony Lawrence © 2009-11-07 Tony Lawrence