Monthly Archives: April 2010

Google and Privacy and why I do not have a problem with it

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I know I’m playing with fire here and in the future I might hate myself for posting this but I have to get this out of my system. So here goes:

Google:

I google a lot. I cannot even think to browse the internet without Google Chrome. I love Google Mail and Google Docs. It is easy to conclude that I, umm kinda, like Google. But Google is much more than that. It is a multinational corporation, a pretty darn big one as a matter of fact. And it is not just any corporation, Google generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program.

Privacy:

This is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean to a consumer like me? Not much really.. When I’m driving around or even just walking into a store, I’m getting tracked by these CCTVs. The calls I make or texts I send are also tracked by my network provider. My mobile network provider needs to know exactly where I am to provide me service. Thanks to the recent x-ray security scanners at the airports, my body parts are up for grabs as well!

The era of ads and privacy:

Ever wondered why tooth brushes are placed near tooth pastes? Or why items on sale are placed near expensive goods aisle? I hope you get the idea. And this just does not end there. If you are watching TV, you are more likely to see ads related to the program you are watching. Last night I was watching a show about holiday resorts in Spain. During one of the breaks, I was advertised the cheapest flights to, umm, Spain. The advertisement industry needs to know who their potential customers are and where to find them to maximise conversion.

Knowing who to sell what (or for Google, knowing who to advertise what) reaps huge rewards. This particular selling tactic is not only critical to Google but it is used by every retail store on this planet. If I’m looking for a car, it is highly likely I would be interested in local car dealers or websites that sell cars. Its not any different than going through a magazine or newspaper looking for something that catches my interest (just more time consuming).

Google tries to track different aspects, some basic, others controversial but the main reason behind is to provide with us more useful information (and, of course, ads). This just not saves time but improves our experience of using Google Web Search. For example, when I search for “golf”, am I interested in the sport or the Volkswagen Golf?

Why I do not have a problem with Google’s take on privacy:

To help Google to help me, I need Google to know what I’m interested in. I certainly do not mind being shown some ‘sponsored ads’ that might get me a special deal. I’m a professional programmer and when I’m in the middle of my work and need to look something up; it is really critical that the information I’m looking for gets to me as soon as possible because any time spent off searching is taking me off my thought process.

I know its a big risk and ask from Google to not be evil and continue developing and improving its services but that is one risk I’m willing to take. I certainly can’t imagine leaving Google Mail because it is a brilliant product. Soon, I’d be leaving my iPhone 3G to move to Google Android-based smart phone (more on this in another post). I know I’ve heard rumours that Google might launch a phone-based ad service where if I drive by Asda (UK version of Walmart), I’d see ads from Asda (or special offers). My question is .. what is wrong with that? If I have to choose between going to Asda to find offers, I’d prefer getting updates on my phone instead!