Pointer to article: http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=166400224
Yeah, Google knows more and more about you and me. But I’m not worried about them violating people’s privacy or leaving themselves open to identity theft in any major way.
Why am I not worried? It’s because Google is such a hugely visible player in the industry, and has so many competitors for all of its offerings, that any major screw-up would be a public relations disaster. More to the point, any negligence or evil on their part would devastate their business, driving customers away faster than a bit over broadband, deep-sixing Google’s stock price and street cred overnight.
Also, Google has a corporate conscience, hence is easily shamed and would quickly remedy any transgression—perceived or real--through substantive action. Should they screw up, they would—I suspect—immediately come public with it, shoring up their reputation before it can sustain major damage.
Competition, litigation, and shame--the chief checks and balances in the corporate world.
But, of course, as the article states, Google’s vulnerability to identity theft and privacy violation is growing. So what else is new? Identity theft has become the tabloid sensationalism-mongering topic of the year. Every company that collects even a shred of personal data on customers is more vulnerable—in the public’s minds, at least—simply because this threat is more salient in the culture now, and more lawyers are salivating at the prospect of initiating class-action lawsuits should any major or minor Internet company slip up.
It’s a fact. Our culture moves through these phases of fear- and greed-mongering, always latching on a new issue to launch the inevitable litigation. Google would be remiss if it didn’t have its people working on legal, PR, and technical counterstrategies in case it too gets swept up in the identity-theft hysteria.