Google is set to merge with DoubleClick, and that fact is causing some real concerns among privacy advocates:
In the complaint, the groups noted that Google collects the search histories of its users, while DoubleClick tracks what Web sites people visit. The merger, according to their complaint, would “give one company access to more information about the Internet activities of consumers than any other company in the world.” Google has built a lucrative business in selling small text ads that appear alongside its search results and on other Web sites. DoubleClick is the leader among companies that specialize in placing graphical and video ads online.
The computer industry is at all times one overflowing with irony, and this time is not an exception. One of the chief complainants in this case happens to be Microsoft, of pushy licensing, invasive registration and Digital Rights Management fame. Figure that if anyone knows what a violation of privacy in the computer world is, its the company that has been pioneering it. But of course there’s the irony: there is a real concern here, even if Microsoft’s involvement ends at it’s typically sleazy back-alley throat slitting form of competition.
So if one company controls both actions, search tracking and browsing tracking, the obvious question is: is there ever a time when that company is NOT watching you? I mean, if it were Microsoft, we could at least count on their machines fucking up from time to time, but Google actually writes good code, so this is a real threat.
Even if Google stays true to it’s “Don’t be Evil” motto for now, there’s no telling when the shareholders decide, for profit’s sake, to change the motto to, “Don’t be Too Evil,” and eventually “Don’t be Naive.” What’s more, the Federal government under President Bush has already attempted to force Google to provide the Justice Department with it’s private data. Don’t think that just because the next president is likely to be a Democrat that they’re not going to be just as tempted to dip into that font of information. Especially if that font becomes ever-richer.
So, the F.T.C is looking into the Google merger to see what they can see, and at the moment, I’m inclined to approve of this investigation. Here’s to hoping the man in charge of the F.T.C these days isn’t the predictable bum-fuck idiot with a law degree from Trinity University we’ve come to expect from the Bushies.
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