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Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Doc Searls is an expert on topics where technology converges with business, and serves as a senior editor at Linux Journal, one of the leading magazines in its field. He has written extensively on the privacy issue with a recent article, “Why are privacy and advertising strange bedfellows?” You might think by the headline that we have finally reached a balance between corporations collecting our sensitive data, and how they protect and use it. But alas, by the second paragraph of the piece, we learn that Google gets the bottom ranking of “Black” (for “Comprehensive consumer surveillance & entrenched hostility to privacy”) from Privacy International who rated the companies. Not one company gets the best, which is “Green.” This is based on Internet service companies, but it reflects the general attitude of business today toward the handling of our names and personal data. Working backward, the next worst rating, “Red,” goes to companies like AOL, Apple, FaceBook, and Yahoo. Microsoft is blessed with “Orange,” and gets a “Yellow.” This article and the rankings are worth looking at because an explanation of what they are doing wrong is listed by each company. Returning to Google, probably no other company has been in the news recently as much as they have with coverage like, “Are Google’s moves creeping you out?” “Google is watching you,” and “Privacy concerns dog Google-DoubleClick deal,” also worth a read. Doc Searls comments, “Why would these companies suck so badly at respecting privacy? and then provides the answer. One, because of a revenue-driven model Google supplies business; and two, because consumers have no control over their names and personal data. Sound familiar?

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