Google is a phenomenal company. They have not only invented their own business model but that have become the leader in that field and held the majority of that web search market from their inception. They are well managed and a company to be admired by any serious businessperson. In IT, we are very glad to have them as we have better access to information when we troubleshoot some new issues.
When Gmail was first introduced, we heard the mythic sirens of people in information technology saying not to put your email on a service that is provided for free by a data mining company. Especially not on a service that scans your email content. At the time it seemed a bit paranoid that someone would say that. However, with recent events it seems that this is something to be considered seriously because whoever hosts your email, your documents, and other intellectual property will have access to it if they are the administrator.
An American CEO of a large US equipment manufacturer recently visiting Japan commented that Google makes money by knowing as much as they can about youâ€. The recent action by the German government against Google regarding accidentally collecting email, photos, WIFI information and any other unprotected transmissions on wireless home network (WIFI) as their cars drove through German neighborhoods seemed to have brought things to a head. Google has been accidentally doing this since 2006, in 30 countries. They offered their apologies.
Considering the duration of this accident and the volume of locations, it would seem more deliberate as the majority of comments on the news sites seem to note. The German government also seems to think the same thing and is escalating the issue and questioning the actions and intensions of Google.
With this comment in mind, please take a moment to look at Google’s services. They seem to want to know,
1)Who you talk to– Google Apps/Gmail, Google Chat
2) Where you live– Google Maps, Gmail (which records the IP address of your home or office where you login)
3) What you are working on and thinking about– Google Docs/Google Search
4) What you are interested in– Google Search (based on what you search for)
5) What you are watching and how long– Youtube.com
6) What news, topics and issues are interesting to you– Google News
7) Everything about your website visitors, referrals, duration on the sites– Google Analytics
8) What you want to buy– Google Shopping
9) What you and your friends look like– Picasa/Photos/Google Video
10) What you are doing today, where you are going, and who you are meeting– Google Calendar
If you sign up for Google services, it seems you are giving them your information on a silver platter. The more you use the services, the better profile they get of you.
We have to realize, that it is not just Google that is studying you to use your information to make money. Amazon has the Kindle that knows what books you are reading and what page you are on (they know what you are buying based on your purchase history). eBay knows what you buy and sell if you use them. Microsoft knows a bit about you from their passport and Hotmail services. Facebook seems to be the master of privacy issues these days, but people continue to use them. The Economist ran an interesting article on this earlier in 2010.
In conclusion, Google is a great company with great services that are mostly all free. What benefit is it for Google to offer these services for no charge? Does anyone ever click on this adverts on the right side in Gmail? It would seem not, as many bloggers describe it as ‘google blindness’ when you don’t see the adverts any more.
You have to decide as it is your information. Our intention is just to get you thinking about what you are doing with your data and to get you thinking about how they are using it. We must also keep in mind, what one company has can be accessed by the government of the nation by simple subpoena in many cases whether they are just or tyrannical. Is it wise to have too many eggs in one basket? You be the judge.
**Image Credit The Independent