T Nation

Google Wins on Privacy


#1

The good news is that the government couldn't force Google to reveal customer search information.

The potential bad news is that parties not involved in a lawsuit can be compelled to provide information to the government.

Thank you Google, for standing up for the right things, unlike some other Internet search companies!

For details, read up...

Google wins partial keywords victory
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060318/bs_nm/google_ruling_dc
[i]
A federal judge denied a U.S. government request that Google Inc. be ordered to hand over a sample of keywords customers use to search the Internet, but required on Friday that the company produce some Web addresses indexed in its system.

"The court grants the government's motion to compel only as to the sample of 50,000 URLs (Uniform Resource Locators), from Google's search index," the judge ruled, referring to the searchable catalog of documents that form the core of Google's Web search service, the most widely used in the world.[/i]


#2

Google has more integrity than most people I know.


#3

Interesting contrast.

http://lfpress.ca/newsstand/News/Local/2006/03/11/1482485-sun.html


#4

I don't think there is really a good comparison between the two issues. While I know you don't agree with Canada's laws concerning hate crimes, it is nonetheless the law.

In particular, knowingly hosting an illegal site is quite different than providing the address of hosted material which is not known to be illegal.

I know any analogy has weaknesses, but there are differences between the cases.

I also suspect Google would comply with a specific information request with respect to a user as part of a criminal investigation -- as opposed to a broad fishing expedition.

"The ruling sends a very strong message that Internet servers, if they are aware there is hate content and don't take timely action to remove it, can be held liable," said Ottawa lawyer Richard Warman, who filed the complaint in February 2002.


#5

They've proven that in China, haven't they?


#6

Doogie,

Is it just me, or are you trying to be against any viewpoint I appear to be promoting? :wink:

In China, Google has not (at least as far as I know) revealed anything. However, in order to be accessible to Chinese users, they had to agree to abide by China's rules.

This again is not the same thing.

While it is perhaps unfortunate, it is the law of the land that must be respected in order to extract income from that market. I guess the question is whether that cash extraction is desirable or not.

In most cases, around these parts, earning money is given pretty high priority on the scale of "what's right". Has the right suddenly changed that viewpoint or are you more left leaning than you've let on?


#7

I was wrong. I was thinking about Yahoo selling out dissidents.


#8

Damn! I wasn't even aware of that. That really sucks!!! I agree with your sentiment then.


#9

It's about time someone stood up to the erosion of privacy rights.


#10

I wish they would provide free and open searches in China instead of doing what the Chinese government mandates.


#11

Google has more integrity than most people I know... still.


#12

You need a better class of friends.

Google is just a corporation playing by the laws of the countries in which it operates.

In the US they have "integrity" because the legal system allows them too. In China they have no "integrity".

It is like being faithful to your wife at home and cheating on the road. You can't claim integrity if you change your practices like this.

Google was possibly correct in telling the US governmemnt to piss off but this is not a display of integrity.

in?teg?ri?ty
Pronunciation: in-'te-gr&-tE
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English integrite, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French integrit?, from Latin integritat-, integritas, from integr-, integer entire
1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : INCORRUPTIBILITY
2 : an unimpaired condition : SOUNDNESS
3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided


#13

Regardless, I am glad they took the stance they did on this one issue. I am not sure I agree with the contempt for their international business conduct in other countries.


#14

I think I agree. Even though what the government asked for seems innocuous the way the demanded the information was incredibly arrogant.

I am glad Google put them in their place.

I am not a Google basher but I think most corporations are very unethical when they deal with China, just as China is unethical in its dealings.

I realize that if one corporation doesn't deal with China because of ethical concerns another will take its place. There are plenty of companies that would deal with the devil himself if they thought it would help the short term bottom line.

That is why I try not to assign values like integrity to business.

Some corporations are better than others, but when it comes down to it they are all motivated by the bottom line and integrity and honor really are not relevant.


#15

I don't think "doing business with China" is a good indicator of integrity at this point.

While I realize some feel that doing business with them is wrong because they should be "punished" or "shunned" for their actions, that is not the only interpretation available.

Another commonly held interpretation is that integrating business interests brings China into the modern world and helps them establish friendly relations with the rest of the world -- which become important enough to cause them to respect their trading partners.

Now, I'm not trying to suggest which is the right interpretation, but I think judging integrity on this topic, when there are diametrically opposed courses that are both driven by purposes of integrity, is unfair, unless you actually know the motives of the participants.


#16

The government should have no right to demand such inforation from Google. The fact that Google won is great. however this is still disiturbing:

"During a court hearing on Tuesday the government reduced the number of Google searches it wanted data on to just 50,000 Web addresses and roughly 5,000 search terms from the millions or potentially billions of addresses it had initially sought."

Apparently they will recive this.


#17

This reminds me of a ethics class I failed in college because of an assignment.

We were to play the CEO of a chemical corporation and decide whether to dump toxic waste near homes or to eat the expene and get rid of the stuff the right way.

In an incredibly liberal class with an incredibly liberal teacher, I was the only one to say that, as CEO, my responsibility was to my shareholders, not to the chidren living near the illegal dump site, and would therefore dump the waste whereever was cheapest.

It always amazes me when otherwise intelligent people thnk there is ANY motive other than money involved in any corporation's business practices.

A nice little reminder of how low Google has sunk in allowing the Chinese censorship rights is what happens when you search for "Tienamen Square" in China. Three guesses as to what doesn't show up.


#18

One main reason Google didn't want to cooperate is it is expensive to provide this info.

They wanted to set some ground rules before they started cooperating with the government.


#19

Disgusting.

Of course the real problem is the Chinese government. Google is just doing what they have to do to participate in the Chinese market.

Vroom makes an excellent point that it is likely better to trade with China as it will possibly force reform to come faster.

I think Google hiding the truth of the evils of the Chinese government is far worse than buying plastic toys made in China.


#20

When did I mention MY friends?

Don't take it so literally Zap, it was a half-joke/half-truth that praised Google for not caving in to such a powerful opposer. For a corporation, that's impressive. I also think it's impressive how the Brin and Page accepted a base salary of $1.00 after Google's IPO. Sure, it doesn't mean much considering they're in the top 30 richest people in the world, but look at the greediness of their company on that list.

So don't take it so literally. Google is still a corporation. But they've shown themselves to be pretty noble for one.