Google & Privacy. Worried? You shouldn’t be.

Vaidhyanathan criticizes Google for having a “lack of privacy” and  for being an invasive “smokescreen”. While Google does have a history of exposing private information, their mission, overall, is not to expose our private lives. Indeed, there are times where it seems Google is absorbing every bit of information like a sponge. What we must remember is that the purpose of this information vacuum is for our benefit. Google’s purpose is not to blackmail us. Vaidhyanathan is concerned about the amount of data Google holds but he might as well be just as concerned with the government. We send in tax forms and fill out censuses with just as much information regarding our lives. David Carr, writer for the New York Times, argues that although Google’s motives have been called into question, it is overall an extremely useful tool. In his article “How good (or Not Evil) is Google?” he points out that Google financed more than $4 billion dollars towards pure research and applications to make it more powerful in order to please us, the users. Both authors point out the 2007 incident where Google scanned millions of books without permission. Vaidhyanathan argues this as evidence that Google is invasive however Carr makes a good point: no one else put effort into scanning these books page by page. Google’s goal here wasn’t to rip off all of the authors, it was to share the information in the books with the world and to preserve text that could otherwise be lost. Marie Curie’s books, for example, are too radioactive to touch and can be used by very few select scientists with expensive suits. This is a specific reason why we would need a company like Google to put the information online for all to see and use. By extending access to billions of people, Google is expediting the advancement of society. Yes, Google’s massive absorption rate and capacity of data is frightening but it is not being used for evil. It is only benefiting us and making our lives easier for the moment so even though Vaidhyanathan is critical, we shouldn’t be too worried.

4 thoughts on “Google & Privacy. Worried? You shouldn’t be.”

  1. Although Google doesn’t necessarily publish our information on the web for everyone to see, the problem comes in when Google gives up your information to other 3rd party organizations such as the government. Giving Google your information should not be the same as giving every other organization access to that information; that is the debate right now. I would feel perfectly comfortable giving Google my information for research and development but what will happen to that information if somebody asks for it remains a mystery. We trust the government and various banks with information such as our social security number and financial records because we know that they will be relatively secure with that information (possibly because that “type” of information is known by many to have the need to be secure). With the information that we are giving Google, we cannot trust Google as much with our information. Google is not regarded as a top security identity such as the government or a bank; the information that Google handles isn’t regarded as a type of information that needs to be kept secure but nevertheless may reveal as much information about you. Thus when this information is requested from Google, we should worry about the invasion of our privacy.

  2. I agree with a lot of the points you made in your argument. While Google does collect mass amounts of information about it’s users, it’s true that this company’s main goal isn’t to give out our information, but instead, to use it to benefit both themselves as well as us. The collected information is used mainly to personalize our search experience, making it easier and more efficient for us as users to find information we need. I noticed that you wrote “We just need to stay aware of the information we give out” at the end of your post. It is our responsibility to protect information that we do not want shared. Google can only get this data if we are willing to give it out or put it on the internet, so, be careful what you post. Also, Google has given us the option to customize the availability of the information we post, therefore making an attempt to protect us as users.

  3. I completely agree with you. Google has created a lot of good things for its users that nowadays I don’t think most if not all of us would be able to live without. Think about the amount of people that use Google Now to find their way to where they need to go.

  4. Your points are valid. Information that Google takes are used for the benefit of the user. Our location can be used to help find ways to avoid traffic. Our past internet logs can be used to find other items users might want to buy. There is really nothing wrong with how Google is using the information that the users gave them willingly. The problem would arise if someone hacked all that information to use for evil. My opinion would be that there is really no problem with Google using the information I gave to them. Users don’t want something like the Target or Home Depot hack to happen to them for Google.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.