Friday, September 05, 2008

The Real Google Agenda

I have been concerned with Microsoft for some time, but google is after more. In our world of technology the most important thing is data. The one that controls the flow of information will be very powerful indeed. » The Real Google Agenda
But nowhere is the power to apply technology for its own sake more available than at Google. And despite the company’s motto, and childlike logo and homepage, this is the real driving force behind the company. And the long-term goal of this applied technology? Google has already said it: to manage all of the world’s information.

Five years ago, this seemed harmless enough, even welcome. The Web is a huge, messy place – so what’s wrong with having some help navigating through it? But as Google has grown larger, and after it has taken over the big, general stuff (the Web) and begun focusing on the smaller, more specialized stuff (libraries, personal records, search patterns) that we begin to understand what “all” means . . .and what Google is willing to do to get it.

For example, a couple weeks ago, in a barely noticed blog entry, reporter Clint Boulton of Computerworld recounted a conversation he’d had with a Google insider who admitted that whatever the company was saying publicly – and to Congress — about user privacy, it was indeed tracking not just user search trails, but also their identities – so-called “Deep Packet Inspection.” The entry drew few readers, and no comments, but it did attract attention from one source: a senior Google executive called the magazine to get it to back off the story.

Even if true, had Google lied to Congress about user privacy? Probably not – at least not in the way that Google had carefully phrased its words.

Then there is Google’s odd acquiescence to the demands by authoritarian regimes around the world, especially China, to censor its search operations in those countries. These actions, inexplicable at the time, only become clear when one assumes that Google’s real business now is not providing a service to its users, but in owning the world’s data.

And that brings us back to Chrome. Why so low-key an introduction? And why turn suddenly turn on a solid partnership with browser provider Mozilla? The answer, I think, has two parts.

First, Google believes that Chrome could be its Microsoft killer. Not only does it have the potential to beat MS Explorer, but, fulfilling Larry Ellison’s old dream, it could be a way to let users easily download applications from the Web – and thus circumvent Microsoft’s lock on Office, even Windows, the very core of its business.

But a second reason is more sinister. Only a few people have noticed yet that in the Terms of Service for signing up for Chrome, Google demands “perpetual, irrevocable, world-wide, royalty free and non-exclusive” license to any materials users create with the browser [Under public pressure, Google retracted the Chrome Terms of Service last night – ed.]

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