Friday, November 03, 2006

All that was concealed shall be revealed (part 3)

This NBC story has Americans thinking back to drunken episodes at their computers, piecing together details, wondering what exact query directed them to the strange and unpleasant page they half remember through their inebriated fog. In the story itself, the search is archived in the fellow's hard-drive, but on CNBC they alluded to the fact that Google has been archiving every single search made on its site for the last six years. The ramifications are enormous: internet porn exploded because of the illusion of anonymity and privacy, but it turns out that buying a magazine from a traditional porn shop was more anonymous, cheaper, and ultimately less humiliating, than getting pornography over the internet.

That trove of information and potential revenue is certainly contributing to GOOG's market valuation. I would be delighted to pay $100 in exchange for deletion of all records of my searches, and, with about 250M blackmailable people in the world -- many for sums greatly in excess of 10K, 100K, or even 1M -- GOOG's 150B market capitalization seems a tad low. Further, as YouTube becomes _the_ softcore porn service, the number of diamonds in GOOG's data mine will only increase.

Could a lawyer make the case that GOOG's motto, "don't be evil" consititutes an implied contract with their users, and that the potential for evil from a vast archive of personal predilictions outweighs the potential for good, putting GOOG in breach and liable for damages? Or is that like suing a Used Car dealer for saying "trust me"?

Why don't the Democrats make this a campaign issue? We know the Republican culture of surveilance covets Google's search information for their own purposes, but shouldn't the Democrats be able to convince Americans that their search data is entitled to the same protection as, say, their medical records?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post. Then it's agreed. We'll all sue google. But only after they've fattened their coffers on our insatiable craving for donkey-virgin-mega slut sites. Then we can go at them with a real case; presenting our drooling devolvement into incapicated voyeurs before a jury that will surely award an obscene sume for punitive settlements--though one might need an Allen Shore type attorney to establish precedence.
But seriously, it sounds like you may have cookies to hide. Maybe many people do. But consider this--there is safety in numbers. 250 million black-mailable people would require how many blackmailers? Say there are ten thousand industrious cyber thugs leaning on closet consumers of anal amatuer sites and the like. How would they proceede? Hacking, threats, pay pal accounts, whatever. Not hard to imagine the growth industry there. But it wouldn't take the FBI long to set up their own sting along the lines of the predator ones on TV. I think we should just let the mechanism of babel run its course. Instead of paying the hundred to expiate your hard drive, simply accept that that's how you are wired. Start a contagion of fearlessness, a virus to counter the virus of shame and bogus boundary lines.
But you are probably right about the Democrats missing
a platform point. But we'll see how long before they're the ones mining data, tapping phones and trying to close down the 'internets'. It's not like having access to Babel is in the Bill of Rights you know. It's not like Democracy, a long life, health, sanity, are a given.

8:02 PM  

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