Google can’t afford to sell people’s personal data

01 Feb

You can’t believe the number of people that have asked me about what I think about Google’s new privacy policy.  I’m sure this might not attract a lot of fans, but here’s my take:

  • Plenty of other media sites already integrate tracking of people’s experiences across their offerings on the web.  Google goes out of its way to actual say they are going to do this… and they get criticized.
  • I know of plenty of commercial and educational sites that use Google Apps as the foundation for their business.  I personally know a well regarded security expert at one of the world’s largest medical supply companies that conducted a security and privacy review of Google Apps.  The fact this company now uses Google Apps is a testimony in itself.
  • If a company shares personal data inside the company (say, for example, Verizon sharing people’s wireless and FIOS usage inside of itself) is it really a breach of privacy?  When Verizon does this, they call it bundling and its customers save money.  When Google does this, it is called evil.

I hear now that members of Congress want to call Google before it again because of this issue. I’m not sure this is the best use of their time with lots of other important issues before it… and I’ll leave it at that.

More than anything, I think this fear is about the fact the Google is very big.  I can’t remember which of the talkshows I recently heard this on, but the observation that was made was that right now, Americans fear anything that is big: big government or big business. We fear that which we do not understand.

My fourth and most important bullet is this:

  • Google has reiterated (though some seem not to hear it) that it still isn’t going to sell  personal data.  And do you know why they won’t sell personal data? Because if they were caught selling personal data, it would destroy their entire business model. Not selling personal data is good business for Google. Let’s be real clear about this: if Google were selling people’s personal data, no one would use Google.  If no one used Google, there would be no way it could sell advertising.  Google is making plenty of money without selling people’s personal data.  The bottom line is simple: Google can’t afford to sell people’s personal data.

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