Alleged smear campaigns happen every day and privacy doesn't exist

Alleged smear campaigns happen every day and privacy doesn't exist

Summary: Privacy International flunks Google on its privacy policy. Google fires back unofficially.

TOPICS: Google, Legal

Privacy International flunks Google on its privacy policy. Google fires back unofficially. Privacy International alleges that Google has launched a smear campaign.

It's really just another day at the office. What's different this time is that this war of words between Privacy International, Google and Google's supporters is escalating in public (see Techmeme).

This stuff happens damn near every time a journalist/blogger writes about a survey that's not complementary about a technology company--especially if that vendor happens to be touchy about the issue highlighted in the survey. The calls go like this: Hi, I saw you wrote about a survey saying X. Well, I'd like you to know Y about their methods and how their survey size isn't large enough to be reliable. We can get you customers refuting the conclusion of this survey, which is obviously biased. Now since you're a fair person, I'd like you to consider this before giving this obviously BS survey attention in the future.

These conversations typically happen in private. In fact, I have one scheduled tomorrow.

Be aware of the motives on both sides of any survey. In the case of Google, the company can't afford doubts to arise about its privacy policies--especially with its DoubleClick acquisition awaiting approval from the Feds. Meanwhile, the Privacy International study touches on a raw nerve--we're all prepared to believe that Google is evil already, or getting there. It's the fear of Google that's everywhere. If you're Google you face the following: The privacy genie is out of the bottle and it's too late to recover--it's not like the press is going to do a big story on why the Privacy International survey is flawed (although Danny Sullivan and Matt Cutts will). In addition, Google is PR clueless (a side effect of arrogance?) so it really has issues. Robert Scoble has more on Google's PR.

As for Privacy International the motives are clear: The group wants headlines. It wants controversy. And it wants to pick a fight with Google. Privacy International hopes Google picks on them--it keeps its study out there even longer. It's been a great weekend for Privacy International--it stuck Google in the eye with a stick and milked it by alleging a smear campaign. "We are aware that the decision to place Google at the bottom of the ranking is likely to be controversial," says Privacy International in its report.

Gee, ya think.

Privacy International is miffed because Google didn't respond to the group. Spare me. Like most of us, Google probably never heard of Privacy International until now.

What's truly notable about this fiasco with Google is the idea that privacy exists anyway. New media companies collect anonymous information that can be combined to target you. Meanwhile, Privacy International says Microsoft, Apple, AOL, Facebook and Yahoo all have services that are a "substantial threat" to privacy. My hunch: Google was on par with those aforementioned firms and Privacy International flunked the company for the headlines.

But the writing on the wall is clear: Privacy doesn't exist on the Web. Get over it.

Topics: Google, Legal

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Well, I still want to be able to trust Google to not let others read my

    email, and be able to sue the SNOT out of them if they do let others read my email. Of course ditto for the other providers. But, in general, I agree with you that we have to get over the web being very public.
  • Just blow off my rights?

    I'm sick of reading variations of 'you don't have any privacy, get over it' on ZDNet. It's insulting to your readership to be so in-your face with your contempt for their basic rights, and it shows just how deep in the corporate pocket you are.

    Kind of makes one wonder-- if you're so incredibly hostile to the concept of privacy, what can the reader expect here? You aren't exactly fostering a sense of trust, brother.
    • You have no rights... And even if you did...

      Check the constitution and see if you can find the word "privacy" anywhere. YOU DO NOT.

      And even if it WAS there, do you really think that if Google, or the government or anyone else wanted to mess around -- that they couldn't?

      According to the constitution, some of the so-called rights include: the rights to be free of unreasonable search and seizure; cruel and unusual punishment; and compelled self-incrimination. There are things like prohibiting the federal government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law -- the list goes on, but there is nothing about privacy there.

      In any case, if the Government wants to get around the law, all they have to do is 'offshore' the dirty work like they do with prisoners of Guant?namo Bay Naval Base or when they abduct people and send them off to places like Syria for torture, interrogation and murder they couldn't do at home.

      (And by the way, EVERY ONE of the so-called rights mentioned above WAS and IS VIOLATED ON A DAILY BASIS by the US Government -- offshore.)

      In any case, Google's servers are spread all over the world and even they can't tell you where YOUR data happens to be stored at any particular point in time -- and you'll certainly never hear what they are doing with it.

      For example, if your personal data happens to be stored at Google's site in China -- you think you have the slightest chance of getting anything done about it? Even if you did, that data could be shuffled around the world at the speed of light so you can NEVER WIN.

      What Google and the US Government not only allow, but FACILITATE is nothing short of criminal -- the sad part is that not a bloody thing will ever be done about it.
      Marty R. Milette
  • Are you serious?

    You are supposed to be a journalist, and you make comments in your story like "My hunch: Google was on par with those aforementioned firms and Privacy International flunked the company for the headlines."

    Your article does little more than to state that since YOU never heard of Privacy International, then it just wants headlines so its making things up.

    Is that the world you live in? Someone is not a big name in your book, so they are obviously not worth listening to? Such arrogance is pretty incredible.

    I like reading your articles, but this one is pretty shameful, you should be embarrassed.

    Oh, and since you made the statement "Privacy doesn?t exist on the Web. Get over it.", does that mean I can assume that, anytime you feel like it, you will attempt to own my pc through some type of malicious code when I view your articles? After all, with that kind of thinking, its just as much yours as it is mine, right? Privacy, personal property, whats the difference?
  • Why would anyone trust google?

    Why does this survey come as a surprise? Why should anyone trust google with your personal data? Did they ask you to hand it over? Google is yet another large company, and as with all similar companies, the bottom line is profit.

    It's all well and nice to get cosy with a motto such as "don't be evil" etc. but when it comes down to cold hard legalese, there are a hundred ways you could get screwed and if you think for a moment that google "will never ever do anything unethical" to make money, I have a bridge to sell you.
    • And, can we trust you to behave appropriately when in public or when you

      are creating public documents? That is the bottom line, we have to learn when we are in a private situation, and when we are not.

      If you walk down the street with your girlfriend, and you wife sees you on Google Maps, it was your failure to understand you were in public. It could have been your neighbor that spotted you and spilled the beans.