Column, Technology

Google: an errant prodigy!

The tech giant’s misuse of private data may prove to be its nemesis.

By S.V. Divvaakar

Google continues to delight consumers of the Internet with its new products and features, the latest being “Google Glasses” that promise to make one’s entire life history “searchable.” The power of this tech prodigy’s innovations is amazing without any doubt. However, a closer look at the undercurrents created by its business model reveals a cause for serious concern.  A concern over the privacy and security of the individual.

Google has been under scrutiny over its privacy policies consistently since 2010. Repetitive violations have led to quick “settlements” with modest fines; for instance, $7 million for its Street View case (March 2013), $22.5 million in its privacy case against Apple’s Safari users (2012), and a $8.5 million in a class action suit over Google Buzz (2010). The latest in the fray is the European data protection regulators’ collective investigation led by the French regulator CNIL, to which Google’s responses have been deemed insufficient.

These confrontations will only enhance in times to come, for the stakes are way too high for Google to cede ground on privacy. Why?

If data is the driver of the Internet business, private data is like steroids for Google’s business model, which thrives on the exchange of user data — historic, profile, social network, location, and search history, to provide contextual and targeted advertising. This explains Google’s desperation to club the data from all its 60 plus service offerings, embark on unauthorized data collection from unsecure networks, and even mining into a user’s web mail and web history.

The magnitude of the issues amplifies when one clubs the potential of “big data” collection through cloud services offered to government/ public agencies in spheres like medical health and education, where vast amounts of individual data will come into play.

Just as steroids can disqualify winners post victory, it may well turn out that Google’s misuse of private data may prove to be the prodigy’s nemesis. (Global India Newswire)

S.V. Divvaakar is the Executive Director of ICOMP India (Initiative  for a Competitive  Online Marketplace)


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