Monday, January 30, 2012

Problem with Google's new strategy

As the readers of my blog will know, I love Google products.  I cannot imagine a day without Google search.  It has become the way I interface with Internet.  Start typing keywords right on Google Chrome browser.  Google gives me all the results that I can possibly look for page after page, and plus some more on the top as advertisements.  For the service that Google provided, this daily reminder of Google surfacing winners of keyword bidding contest right on my result page, it seemed fair.  I was able to tune out for the most part the bit of lost real estate space on my monitor.

Then I saw the Google's new privacy notice.  Along with that, I found out that they will combine all information they have been collecting from YouTube to Google+ and Blogger to create master information of who I really am.  Ok, Google is not interested in who I am, but everything else that I can possibly do on the web through their service.  And there are many.

First I log in to Google Mail to see if there are new mails from over night, quickly browsing the alerts that I set up.  Then open another tab to see my blog activities and to see if I'm seeing any interesting trend in incoming visits.  Then I occasionally open Google Map to get my latest commute update, and search interesting articles that I see from my morning papers.  I do all these without really thinking about if someone out there is piecing all these information together to find out what I've been doing day in and day out, and what I am likely to do next day and next week.

Using real identity and being able to track my comments on Google+ or other Google products is one thing.  But remembering every single details that I ever did on all of Google products for months on end is another.

See, here is the problem.  We are all taught not to trust any one you meet for the first time.  It's the first thing that you learn in kindergarten.  Don't talk to strangers.  Don't let strangers in the house.  It's because you don't trust everyone blindly, and there is a good reason for it.  It hurts our chance of survival if we trust anyone who pass by us.  Our long history evolution has taught it to us, and we instinctively sense not to trust people we just met.

But Google is telling us it's ok.  Google is saying it's ok to trust Google, its employees and many companies who are interested in your information with sharing something about you; well, everything about you.  If you are regular Google user, these are the things that Google says it will collect: what you read, what you watch, what you search, what you buy, where you are, who you talk, what emails you send and receive, your name, your day of birth, and whatever other information that you decided to put in to get the cool Google invitation to their new product.

It's not about leaving your identity when you make a comment or +1 an article that you liked.  It's talking about Google monitoring every and all activities that happen through Google service and associating with me.

Even aside from trust, there is something very disturbing happening here.  Google is dictating, not asking but telling us, that they will track you for whatever you do through their service to create history of what you do and identify you by all that history.  Even if my wife were to ask for that kind of information, I would say no.  It's not because I don't want to share things, but because sharing everything means I won't have any room for privacy.

What Google is about to do starting March is exactly this.  They will start connecting all identities and create map of what every Google users are doing at each moment.  This is not something that I would expect from the company I grew to love.  This may mark the end of decade long relationship.


  1. +1.  Good reason to switch your default search engine.  I've been using duckduckgo for last few weeks, and it's been working great for me so far.

  2. Thanks for your suggestion, Minwoo.  I'll give it a try.

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