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E-totalitarianism at Google

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Scott Cleland
The Washington Times
May 10, 2011

Google Inc.’s “Don’t Be Evil” slogan is seductive but misleading. It is the lowest business ethics standard ever devised, excusing everything Google does short of evil. Google isn’t evil – but neither is it ethical.

While perceptions of the world’s erstwhile No. 1 brand remain exceptionally strong, Google’s ethical blind spots regarding privacy and property rights are beginning to erode the public’s trust and eventually could threaten the company’s market domination. Anyone who follows Google closely knows that the company is a serial scandal machine. One of the world’s most powerful companies, with its vainglorious mission to “organize the world’s information,” has proved itself to be unethical, shockingly political and untrustworthy.

Google’s privacy record is shameful. In 2004, Google sparked a privacy outcry by scanning Gmail users’ private emails for advertising keywords. The next year, Google Earth put sites, including the White House’s roof and a Trident submarine base, on public display; a leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade terrorist group said he was thrilled. In 2006, Google refused to comply with a California privacy law. Two years later, Street View exposed people’s homes and license plates to anyone who cared to look; a member of the British Parliament described the service as “invading our privacy on an industrial scale.” In 2009, Google began tracking the books people searched (via Google Books) and visitors to WhiteHouse.gov. Last year, Google Buzz exposed users’ private email lists to the public while Google’s Street View cars were caught eavesdropping on millions of users’ wireless networks. No wonder Privacy International cited Google for its “entrenched hostility to privacy.” But it’s easy to understand why Google has no respect for privacy. Just consider Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s own words: “If you have something you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.”

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This article was posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 7:17 am





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