Power Corrupts?

Does Google still hold the principle of not doing evil dear? those of us who have wanted for some time to believe that as Google grows more and more powerful it will use its power over modern media for good, rather than evil.

Two things have happened recently that made my inclination shift and made me start to doubt more than ever that the keys to the Internet should be entrusted to the big G. First there was the launch of Google site trends where you can get a decent amount of information about your (or your competitor’s) website, including some basic marketing information. The problem here is Google has chosen to keep information about its own sites private, while happily giving information about everybody else away. Somehow Google feel they should be the only people to get the choice as to whether their data is given out to everybody.

Then, during the well publicised courtroom battle between Viacom and Google, a judge made a ruling instructing Google to hand over users data to Viacom. This was met with waves of incredulity by the industry as analysts poor scorn on the decision and opinions are traded on the consequences of Viacom getting their hands on all this data. The story created so much interest that a search on Google Viacom on Google news collects the story with 925 articles. It’s strange then that the story hasn’t appeared on Google news’s Sci/tech section at all, not even if you click through to the sci/tech section. If you want to read the 21 articles about left handed octopuses (whats the collective noun for an octopus?) then your in luck, but to get to the Google Viacom story you have to actually type in a search.

Are Google creating an iron curtain, behind which they will keep anything that they don’t want people to know. And if they are, is there some Polit Bureau style board who hold meetings to decide what information should and shouldn’t be in the public domain. As Google controls and has the power to control more and more areas of the Internet and the media do we get to a point where we start to consider the power they wield as becoming dangerous? the power to buy almost any business that threatens them or their technology, the power to cut traffic to any site or business that they desire, the power to manipulate and withhold news as it suits them.

The most worrying thing displayed by the decision of district court judge Louie L Stanton is that the people who have the power to reign Google in (if need be) have absolutely no understanding of the Internet or its potential effects on a users privacy, which leaves Google free to make the rules up for itself.

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