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[liberationtech] Google’s Broken Promise: The End of "Don't_Be_Evil"

Yosem Companys companys at stanford.edu
Sun Jan 29 16:34:31 PST 2012


fyi


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: *Jonathan Ezor* <jezor at tourolaw.edu>
Date: Sun, Jan 29, 2012 at 1:52 PM
Subject: Google’s Broken Promise: The End of "Don't_Be_Evil"

My problem (or perhaps challenge might be a better word) with the
ever-growing Google database is not that I expect Google’s (current)
management to do evil itself with the information. Rather, it’s that others
who would want to do evil now have a one-stop-shop for all their
informational needs. An active Google user (Gmail, Google search, Android
mobile device(s), Picasa, Blogger, etc.) is feeding a huge amount of
behavioral, preference and other information into Google’s data banks, just
waiting for a malicious hacker, private litigant or governmental agency to
access.

Lest people think I’m spouting tinfoil-hat conspiracies when it comes to
governments in particular drinking from Google’s data well, consider
Google’s own Transparency Report, especially the section that addresses the
number of governmental requests to Google for user data, and its response.
The full chart can be found at:

<http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/governmentrequests/userdata/>

but by way of example, between January and June 2011, Google received 5,950
user data requests, covering 11,057 users and/or accounts, from the U.S.
government, and (according to Google’s own reporting) it “fully or
partially complied with” 93% of those requests. (The figures from the data
removal request chart at
http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/governmentrequests/removals/ are
smaller but perhaps more troubling.)


The other concern regarding Google’s information collection practice is
that people may not realize how many inbound channels Google has. Under
Google's current privacy policy (
http://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/privacy/), it maintains separate
privacy statements for its standalone products, including:

   +1 Button
   Advertising
   Advisor
   Apps
   Blogger
   Books
   Buzz
   Chrome
   Chrome Frame
   Gears
   Google+
   Google Music
   Google Notebook
   Google TV
   Google Web Toolkit
   Groups
   Health
   Knol
   Location Service in Firefox
   Mobile
   Moderator
   Orkut
   Picasa
   Postini
   Safe Browsing
   Sites
   Store
   Toolbar
   Trader
   Translator Toolkit
   Voice
   Wallet
   Web Accelerator
   Web History
   YouTube

The next version of the policy (the one getting all the attention) no
longer explicitly breaks out the separate products, but nor does it list
them to remind users of the numerous Google products (many not branded as
such). It is difficult to accept that Google users are truly providing
informed consent to all of the company's information collection, given the
sheer volume and complexity of the disclosures.

Consumers are asked to trade convenience for personal information privacy
all the time. The question, though, is how knowingly we are doing so. When
it comes to Google, I am far from convinced that any sizable portion of its
users understand how much of their information, through how many channels,
Google is collecting in exchange for "convenience." {Jonathan}

-------------------
Prof. Jonathan I. Ezor
Assistant Professor of Law
Director, Institute for Business, Law and Technology (IBLT)
Touro Law Center
225 Eastview Drive, Central Islip, NY  11722
Direct: 631-761-7119  Fax: 516-977-3001
e-mail: jezor at tourolaw.edu; PGP key 0xFBA73A9E
Skype: jonathanezor     Twitter: profjonathan



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