Monday, August 08, 2005

Google balances privacy, reach - but over-reaches on power


Google balances privacy, reach according to this News.com story by Elinor Mills at C|Net. This coverage apparently got News.com banned by Google news, according to another story at British IT journal, theRegister.com. After reading the three page story at news.com, I was curious what it was that got C|Net banned by Google. Unless they are extraordinarily sensitive to criticism, or Google CEO Eric Schmidt, is terribly sensitive about their mention of his political affiliations and hobbies - there is nothing there that seems to warrant a ban of News.com from Google News headlines.

August 9 Update It appears, according to extensive coverage elsewhere in the media, that News.com was not banned by Google News as previously mentioned here and other early sources, but was instead told that Google "Will not talk with them until August 2006" as a snub to the online news outlet for Googling the Google CEO, Eric Schmidt and exposing his home address, net worth, and his political affiliations and hobbies. My concerns, expressed below, that anyone using Google services might be banned from using those services if they criticize Google, was incorrect and, thank goodness, an over-reaction to a misunderstood action by Google against news.com and C|Net. Although I certainly don't support Google refusing to talk to News.com reporters because they were victims of their own resources, it is not as severe a move as banning C|Net from Google News would be.

They simply can't be that sensitive to media or they will end up banning thousands of web sites. The fact that this arose over a privacy news story makes it all the more nerve wracking to me. Am I at risk of banning from the Google index because I discuss privacy here and linked to these stories? Although I am just a little guy observing a big industry, I do still make my living online and I count on those services owned by Google in a big way. I'd be able to find replacements, but the disruption in my tiny business would be dramatic.

This has to hurt C|Net and News.com as we all know how much traffic Google sends to many web sites - as much as 85%. Google News has to be substantial driver of Traffic to news sites as well, although I don't have the numbers on that.

I also mentioned Google privacy and security concerns last week in similar (although less thoroughly researched than the C|Net story) concerns that Google wields a lot of personal information on the average user and that info is at risk from IT consultants, hackers and insiders with low ethical standards. I worried that they need to guard that information and instill ethics in all those insiders who may have access to it because I am a user of many of their services. This was all in response to a ComputerWorld story on ethics in the IT industry.

Am I at risk of banning from all those services, or only from blogger because I use that Google-owned tool to create my privacy blog and mention Google in regards to privacy concerns? Why is CNN not banned from Google news when they ran a much more visible privacy article on their site? Maybe only those who mention the liesure activities of Eric Schmidt get banned?

What is this and why won't Google comment on it? Stay tuned...

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posted by RealitySEO at 1:33 AM

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