“If you think about it, all the world's information includes personal information,” in the Googley words of CEO Eric Schmidt.
Schmidt made the declaration at the SES conference last August while evangelizing Google’s aim to have personal information “held in online word processing, online spreadsheets, online calendar, online email.”
Google Apps debuted soon after Schmidt’s pronouncement, followed by Google Apps Premier this year.
Now, Schmidt is evangelizing the Google Cloud as the preferred gatekeeper for the world’s personal data: “Why would a rational person put personal information anywhere else but the cloud, given risks of losing and/or damaging a mobile device or PC?,” he asked rhetorically at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference last week.
The question can very well be turned: Why would a rational person put personal information IN the Google Cloud?
In “Is there a Google trap? Data portability vs. accountability” I dissect Google’s privacy policies and conclude Google does not readily provide users “open access” to, and control of, their data, which appears to be stored in perpetuity in the Google Cloud systems.
What will Google do once it obtains ALL the world’s personal information in the Google Cloud?
Google SVP Engineering & Research, Alan Eustace, underscored to investors last year the long-term “strategic benefits” of Gmail:
It’s a good place for us to experiment with our advertising technologies and targeting technologies which I think are very useful to us. It could be a significant revenue stream in the future, but there are other reasons also for us to be in the email market.
This week, Google trumpeted it is “taking steps to further improve our privacy practices.”
Google spokeswoman Victoria Grand: "We wanted to implement a policy to show our users that we're concerned about their privacy by creating more transparencies and certainties about our data retention practices," as cited by the Chicago Tribune.
What certainties and improved transparencies does Google assert?In the Official Google Blog announcement, Google claims it already provides “clear, easy to understand privacy policies that help you make informed decisions about using our services.” In “Is there a Google trap? Data portability vs. accountability,” I debunk such a claim.
The new touted Google privacy “transparency” is “we will anonymize our server logs after a limited period of time.” What is Google’s “limited period of time”? One week, one month, one year? No, “after 18-24 months.”
The new touted Google privacy “certainty” is user search data will be “much more anonymous, so that it can no longer be identified with individual users (after 18-24 months).”Will Google searchers be breathing collective sighs of privacy relief three years out? Not exactly, according to Google itself.
DO THESE CHANGES GUARANTEE ANONYMIZATION?
Google: “It is difficult to guarantee complete anonymization.”