|There is another reason for you to love Google now. The search engine giant is not prepared to rub shoulders with Uncle Sam when it comes to user privacy. Unlike MSN , Yahoo and other itsy-bitsy search engines that agreed to submit user search words and search behavior and patterns to help uncle Sam collect a pile of privacy data, in the name of cracking down porn sites accessible to minors, Google has bluntly said ?No? to Bush Inc.
Bravo! I salute the folks at Google. You guys have won the hearts of million of users like me, instantly. It doesn?t matter if Google wins the battle or not, I salute their bravery for taking a tough stand on this issue. We cried out load and whined like hell when the Chinese tried to put pressure on websites that went against their Communist philosophies. Yet, at home, we kind of ignore those freedom talks at a blink. Whether it is for the good or for the bad or for the ugly, user privacy is at the center of Internet?s success. It?s the core for breaking boundaries. User privacy is the ultimate pill that helped spread the online journalism, including the explosive growth of blogs and message boards that allowed people express whatever they wanted and whenever they wanted from wherever they wanted. User privacy is at the core for people to search whatever they wanted from wherever they wanted. If I had doubts about big brother watching me what I do online, Internet would become just like a corporate Intranet, where there is always someone watching you what you do online. I would think twice to search for a hot sauce named ?Osama? fearing someone would come giggling his way knocking on my door. (There definitely is a chili sauce with that name for those who want to sit for hours at the toilet next day)
Battling pornography is critically important. Agreed. I?m a father of two wonderful kids. I know the importance of punishing those sick people who allow kids access porn sites. I will stone them to death if I catch them. But as a responsible father, I also have a duty to watch my kids and make sure I don?t leave them alone with an open Internet connection in a dark room. By the way, they are only 3 and 1. I have a long way to go.
Having said that, it is also critically important that search engines maintain user privacy for the sake of , yes, the privacy. There are ways to find those sick villains who use the Internet to spread terrorism and child pornography. You don?t need to find every single word that was searched on the Internet to track a targeted group. You go for a targeted user base with targeted key words instead of trying to monitor every single search that is done on the Internet by every single Tom and Dick. Asking for the entire search database is Uncle Sam?s way of seizing the opportunity to tap into the brains of every single person in the world. That?s a serious commitment for search engines. Google understandably denied it. And that was the right thing to do.
Here is a spin to this whole debacle. Google is used by people from almost every country around the world. More than sixty percent of Google searches come from outside the United States. How would those users react if they come to know that Uncle Sam has started collecting data about them? Well, you don?t need a degree in psychology to figure out that they would gradually stop using Google. Then, what? It won?t take long for someone in another country, say Cuba, to mimic Google, and come out with a very similar search engine. Don?t tell me what Google does is rocket science. Search engine techniques are taught in universities throughout the world these days. Although Google has propriety algorithms that come close to rocket science, they are not impossible to reverse-engineer.
So, for the sake of argument, let?s assume someone from France had taken the time to advertise that he or she can provide a Google equivalent with no data collection. People will start lining up to leave Google. You damn it, I?ll be one of them. Google will lose money and may possibly lose everything it stands for.
Well, the bottom-line is, Google aficionados like me are vigorously against Uncle Sam collecting search data. But I?m with Uncle Sam help fight terrorism and child pornography. Our message is simple and crisp to Bush Inc. You don?t need every word that is searched on the Internet to find the crooks. You need to draw a fine line between what is ethical and what is needed and lawful. Do not make a mockery of Google ( and the Internet for that matter) by asking them to submit the entire search database. Google may go bankrupt if they lose their users. So will millions of users and investors. I can?t live without Google for crying out load, and I?d hate to switch to another search engine, to be honest.