May 23, 2012

"No regulator in the United States has ever seen the information that Google’s cars gathered from American citizens."

The NYT presents Google in a sinister light for its failure to open itself up to the government that wants to regulate it.
The tale of how Google escaped a full accounting for Street View illustrates not only how technology companies have outstripped the regulators, but also their complicated relationship with their adoring customers....

People willingly, at times eagerly, surrender this information....

Although Google thrives on information, it is closemouthed about itself....

“We don’t have much choice but to trust Google,” said Christian Sandvig, a researcher in communications technology and public policy at the University of Illinois. “We rely on them for everything.”

That reliance has built an impressive company — and a self-assurance that can be indistinguishable from arrogance. “Google doesn’t seem to think it ever will be held accountable,” Mr. Sandvig said. “And to date it hasn’t been.”
Google rivals government. Government would like us to willingly, eagerly surrender information, to have no choice but to trust it, to be relied on for everything, to never be held accountable... and — with all that — to be adored.

How frustrating for the government!

28 comments:

David said...

How about a little government review of the information that NYT collects regarding American citizens?

Not a good idea, NYT?

Peter said...

Perhaps the NYT's fear is just that the average IQ at Google might be so far above that of government regulators as to make them essentially unregulatable?

Palladian said...

So who regulates the regulators?

TMink said...

It has to be embarassing when you are big brother and someone out bigs you.

Trey

TMink said...

And who watches the watchers?

Trey

JMS said...

"No regulator has ever seen the information...."

That isn't a bug, that's a feature!

Quayle said...

When Google has a police force that can knock my door down in the middle of the night, and prosecutors that can file and maintain charges, and hordes that can gather and sift through my stuff as evidence, and an Army to back them all up, I'll start to really worry.

Until then, Google is just a greedy capitalist thug.

MadisonMan said...

Good for google. They have lots of information on me -- but they don't have the color of my house right in streetview.

Information gets old pretty fast.

hawkeyedjb said...

Oh my. God forbid: somebody, somewhere is doing something that's not regulated.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Thou shalt have no God before me.

Must be tough to be outwitted by free enterprise to the point of rivalry in information gathering. But then, the US government has no business whatever snooping on its citizens, outside of narrowly-defined circumstances. It's our SERVANT, not the master.

Ann Althouse said...

Google has the entire archive for my blog, which -- with all the comments -- is too large to extract.

I am trusting them with so much that is so valuable to me and I have considered getting out with as much as I can, but I don't trust the alternatives. (Look how Crack Emcee got out of Google, paid to be somewhere else, then lost it at the new paid-for place.)

I can only hope Google remains true to preservation and to free speech. It is in a role similar to government toward us, and I'm hoping that market forces and actual free speech values will protect us.

Is the government more reliable? I don't trust democracy to protect freedom. Democracy could easily take our freedom away.

Freder Frederson said...

Is the government more reliable? I don't trust democracy to protect freedom. Democracy could easily take our freedom away.

When Google (or any other corporation that gathers vast amounts of information on me) is subject to Freedom of Information requirements, I will stop worrying about them.

traditionalguy said...

The Chicago Way Government wants its payoffs.

Crony capitalism means you must pay the government to escape destruction by legal use of pretended to be needed regulations. Your marginal reward is that no start ups or competitors can afford to pay that much.

Sicilians invented this form of economic/social cultural balance about 500 years ago.

Obama is old fashioned. He wants us to revel in our return to 1880 trains, 1910 battery cars, 1360 windmills and 1520 Mafia methods.

My big fear is underneath the charades he ihas set us up for a return to 30 BC Roman Imperium Rule from his new palace in central Europe.

TosaGuy said...

Remember when the gov't thought Microsoft had too much power?

Those days seem quaint.

dbp said...

The public has a right to information the government collects since we as citizens "own" it.

This is not true for Google. It is privately owned and either payed for information it has or was given the information on a purely voluntary basis.

MadisonMan said...

So althou.se is off the table?

hawkeyedjb said...

"Remember when the gov't thought Microsoft had too much power?"

Remember when the gov't thought IBM had too much power?

The US government - the most powerful institution on earth - always thinks somebody else has too much power.

virgil xenophon said...

RE: Quayle@8:36/

A fine example of the difference between theory and practice. In theory the government shouldn't be feared because the citizenry can bring the "administrative state " part of it to heal directly via their elected representatives' power to oversee the federal agencies and by their own power to replace said representatives if they don't. Thus, seen in this light, Google is theoretically to be feared more as its inner-workings are totally opaque to the general public/avg citizen as well as--unlike the government--under no legal compunction to be responsive to the desires/demands of the public.

The operational reality, however is almost the obverse. Experience has shown the nuts and bolts of it all reveals a government able to seal off much of its activities from public view and delay any meaningful response to citizen input/demands until well past the time when any response would be meaningful. Google, by contrast, has many competitors (Bing, Yahoo, Ask, etc.) and if the public becomes disenchanted with their business practices, they can instantly take their business elsewhere--in effect "change governments"--unlike government itself. The difference between theory and reality..

JMS said...

Freder mentions "Freedom of Information requirements"

hahahahaha... yeah, trust in FOIA.

Go to google scholar right now and look at the gazillion lawsuits filed trying to get the government to comply. Learn about the "exemptions."

And how do you ever know that they actually complied? Because they said they did. Right.

MayBee said...

I'm still bothered the low-level guy was able to put freezes (until we gave our cell phone numbers) on the accounts of several people, including me (and Browndog and Patterico). All because we asked to have Althouse's blog restored.

Althouse didn't really say enough about that, imho, perhaps because Google has all of her archives.

OTOH, the Google Streetview car drove past me the other day, and it killed me that I was not wearing a horse's head. And I know about the horsehead guy because of a story that is no doubt in Althouse's archive.

Ken said...

I trust google far more than some government bureaucrat.

ndspinelli said...

They need to update. My street view has a van in my driveway I donated to Bart Starr's Boys Ranch ~5 years ago.

As an investigator, street view was manna from heaven.

BarrySanders20 said...

What Quayle said. When Google becomes militarized and can detain me, has very favorable statutory protections limiting suits and damages, enjoys qualified immunity from many claims, and employs the people who pass the laws, carry out the laws, and run the system that interprets the laws and metes out justice, then fear them.

Until then, if you want to avoid Google, you largely are able to by not partcipating on the web. You cannot opt out of being governed.

deborah said...

"When Google has a police force that can knock my door down in the middle of the night, and prosecutors that can file and maintain charges, and hordes that can gather and sift through my stuff as evidence, and an Army to back them all up, I'll start to really worry."

From Wired:

In recent years, American internet companies have swooped into booming foreign markets and, occasionally, cooperated with repressive regimes seeking to crack down on free speech and democracy. The NYC Comptroller’s proposal attempts to limit Google’s ability to forgo internet rights that most of us take for granted.

http://www.wired.com
/threatlevel/2007/04/google_sharehol/

From IEEE Spectrum:

http://spectrum.ieee.
org/telecom/internet/
how-i-learned-to-live
-google-free/0

elkh1 said...

"How frustrating for the government!"

Yeah, those hi-tech guys think they are gods. Apple refuses to share its billion dollars loots from overseas with the govt. That Facebook guy would rather skip town than to share his enormous future wealth with the govt.

Who need them? We have our 99% True Americans who very much like to share other people's money with the govt.

Geoff Matthews said...

We are NOT reliant upon google for everything.
I can use a different search engine. I can use a different web browser. I can use Open Office or MS Office (or WordPerfect Office!). I don't need Google+. I can use a different online Maps service.
Etc.
Google will be in trouble when people stop trusting them. And I'm sure they know this.

Bryan C said...

This Christian Sandvig fellow isn't very good at his job, or he'd know of the myriad competitors to Google.

Revenant said...

I'm thrilled that Google has the information and the government doesn't. Google is more trustworthy.