Was it only in 2004 that the pundits posed the question as to whether Microsoft was the new IBM? How time flies. Last week, freelance journalist Erik Sherman raised the question “Is Google the new Microsoft?” as he reviewed Google’s latest behaviors and market dominance. For evidence, Sherman listed several similarities:
- Google asks users to trust them with an explanation essentially of “because we say so” and because we care
- Dominates search almost to the extent that Microsoft dominated the desktop and laptop
- Acts first, asks later – after the lawsuits start hitting the fan, as with the book scanning
- Ignores antitrust concerns, drawing government attention in the U.S. and Europe
What do Google’s dominance and actions mean to your privacy and safety?
Google’s services have the ability to collect, data mine and resell information – whether it be your content, your location, or elements of your identity – to a far greater extent than an operating system or productivity tools ever could.
This means that transparency, consumer choice, and the ability to opt out of features, services, or to have your information erased entirely are more critical than ever. In the face of these risks, the points noted above are more than a little concerning.
- Trust must be earned, on a user-by-user basis; and trust-but-verify applies even when trust has been earned. Every user should be able to see the information collected, stored, or shared about them at any time – and be able to have it removed.
- Monopolies become dictatorships – benevolent or otherwise. At the end of the day, companies and corporations are responsible to their bottom line. The actions taken by Google that have drawn governments’ attention should concern every internet user. Their seeming disregard for antitrust concerns only heightens the unease.
- Ask first, act later must guide decision-making.
Do you know Your Internet Safety Bill of Rights?
If not, it’s time to consider what you should be demanding from every online service. I wrote your Internet safety bill of rights in 2005, and they are more relevant today than ever.