Google Targeting Users for Data - The First GDPR Privacy Fine


#1

Originally published at: http://mycroft.ai/blog/google-targeting-users-data-first-gdpr-privacy-fine/

Google is a modern day oracle. Like the flawed heroes of tragedy, we ask it to answer our questions, solve our problems and tell us “why”. Ask Google how to plumb a sink and it will tell you. Ask it for a strategy for negotiating a car price and it will tell you. You can even ask Google for the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. And unlike Kutlu, the God of Darkness, Google will tell you. You don’t even have to sacrifice a goat.

Frankly, it is too bad that Google is the oracle of unchecked capitalism and corporate greed. Had the dawn of the search engine gone a bit different, Google could have been more like Wikipedia – a community-oriented technology dedicated to the service of humanity. But, as we’ve seen from the company’s behavior, Google serves only capitalism. In pursuit of profits, Google has wrecked industries, pushed drugs, monopolized markets, and spied on all of us.

Taking Action in Europe

Here in the United States where greed is good, Google has yet to be held to account in any serious way by regulators. But in Europe, Google was just fined again. This time the company was fined $57,000,000 for not revealing to customers what the company is doing with their personal data. This fine is the first under GDPR and shows that European regulators are serious about forcing Big Tech to be honest with customers.

Because let’s face it, Big Tech is using all of our personal data in ways we would be horrified to discover. Think of all of the embarrassing things you’ve asked Google. Seriously, think about it. Have you asked it about medical conditions? Have you made a questionable search you’re sure has put you on some kind of “list”? Looked at videos or images that might later be compromising? Most people have, and Big Tech can tie those searches directly to you. By name, by address, by phone number – but also by favorite dessert, hair stylist, and sports team.

Now think about this thirst for data in the context of an always listening device sitting in your kitchen. That Google Home or Amazon Echo is sending data to Big Tech one query at a time. Sure, they say that they respect your privacy, but the GDPR fine tells us that they aren’t fully disclosing how they are obtaining and using our data. Who knows what information that device is sending out? Your preference in cereal? Television? More personal matters?

How will you respond?

Regulators aren’t going to be able to reign in Big Tech alone. These companies have shown time and again that the only forces they care about are market forces. Until consumers challenge the narrative that we must give up all privacy in order to get tailored services, companies like Google and Amazon will continue to thrive to the detriment of everyone but their executives and early investors.


#2

I don’t understand why you demonize Google. Sentences like “But, as we’ve seen from the company’s behavior, Google serves only capitalism. In pursuit of profits, Google has wrecked industries, pushed drugs, monopolized markets, and spied on all of us.” are questionable at best and I honestly wish I wouldn’t have to read them.

Yes, some of that was probably the result. But what’s your point really? In fact you’d have to be totally new to the internet if you truly believe that Google officially pushes drugs - any search engine can be used to buy them anyways and Mycroft can too unless… you don’t wanna spy on us and control what we’re doing right?
You also have to raise an eyebrow at things like “serves only capitalism. In pursuit of profits,” blabla - what company other than state funded - e.g. russian / chinese - doesn’t do that?

Furthermore Mycroft.ai set out to do the VERY same - you’re also doing investor rounds, seeking to wreck industries etc. so why do you go to such lengths to discredit your competitors in such obscene language?
Take a look at this simple image from your home page for example: https://mycroft.ai/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/teach-2.png
How will cashiers feel about it? What about buying local from a farmer nearby? How do you even tell mycroft where to order other than “Amazon”? Are you really telling me you’re unaware of the possible consequences?

That said I agree - Google is very powerful. So is Amazon, Apple, Mycrosoft and many others. But frankly the way you approach some of your competitors is outright nasty and will harm Mycroft in the long run - even if we ignore the fact you’re sitting in the same boat - just maybe a smaller one.
What about Google taking a look at the security of Mycroft and releasing critical bugs openly due to your attitude?
What about brilliant software engineers working at Google not even thinking about contributing because you insult their company and frankly my intelligence.

Let me give you another simple example why that is:
I for one have everything that starts with Goo*** blocked

So what about you? You happily at least run Google tagmanager on Mycroft (who knows what else), so you’re knowingly trying to feed our data to Google.
Just looking at your code tells me there’s multiple google domains being queried (if not blocked) along side other trackers like activecampaign.com

So why not just lead by example? Innovate, shine, do things right where others are doing them wrong.
Get rid of google software, trackers and and general data hoarding like activecampaign.com (runs your newsletters as well) - I would fully support that!
It could be so positive to be part of mycroft. Let people make informed decisions and actually produce the most privacy friendly product. However, using this platform to fiercely attack competitors will do nothing for you in my opinion. Well, nothing positive at least.


#3

Sorry, should have included links:

Google has wrecked industries. Lets use Newspapers as an example, though I can make the case for other industries as well.

pushed drugs. This is pretty cut-and-dry since they admitted to it and paid a $500M fine.

monopolized markets - Same deal. They’ve been convicted and fined $6 Billion for it, so it isn’t news.

spied on all of us - And once again, pretty cut and dry.

I’m not sure how any of those statements are controversial. They may create cognitive dissonance with peoples PERCEPTION of Google, but if you look at the company’s BEHAVIOR you’ll see that in addition to wrecking industries, pushing drugs, monopolizing markets and spying, they are also tax cheats who have covered up sexual harassment and engaged in a variety of other less than savory business practices.


#4

Cool beans. But you clearly didn’t read my post and are evading it’s central points on purpose.

Yes, there is even more scandals on Googles side, like having real people listening in to voice recordings of their voice products - which ironically Mycroft does as well. If I were to focus on Mycroft for a while I could very likely easily come up with a few scandalous headlines myself. Easy peasy.
Not everybody is perfect, especially when dealing with way more than 100k employees in way over 50 countries.

And again, why are you using Google services if it’s so bad?
Even more important: Why were you promising to “wrecking industries” yourself? Do you even read what you are writing?!

How do you, for example, explain complaining about Google threatening Newspapers or some other industries if you post this:
Corporate strategists would do well to realize that the type of voice technology we are building is eventually going to replace receptionists, call center representatives, customer service agents and in-store service associates.
Please do answer me on this. Because I find it rather… unsettling.

Insulting a companies image, of which many developers ARE actually wearing white hats and contribute MASSIVELY to the very technology YOU are using (including Linux!) is not a smart move. In fact it’s the opposite really.
Just point out what you are doing - people will realize it is better if it truly is.

The simple point I was trying to make is that if you make something out as evil you might want to at least ATTEMPT being better.
It’s easy picking at someone’s flaws when forgetting about your own.

I hope I gave you some food for thought as to how EXTREMELY controversial your statements are. No need to look at Googles behavior - looking at Mycrofts is fully sufficient and likely what you should focus on.