Sunday, 22 August 2010

Is Google Evil?

If you are reading this post you are using a service provided by Google. Since its start in the 1990's the firm has become ubiquitous, being the centre of many peoples internet use.

Google's motto is "Don't Be Evil". Above and beyond the normal corporate requirement of acting lawfully, Google aims to act honourably and respectfully, and provide unbiased information access for users.

So, how does this fit with the recent debate over Net Neutrality. Support for Net Neutrality comes from the belief that all internet users are equal, in the same way that all humans are equal. Google is in its own words still "the leading corporate voice on the issue of network neutrality", but is it?

Google has announced, in conjunction with Verizon, that it would like an internet which will allow priority for certain traffic. Drawing protests and dispute online. Despite Google's assurances this sounds like a step away from "unbiased access".

This announcement by Google has not come in a vacuum. The company is also under scrutiny over the collection of wi-fi data during the rollout of its streetview service. This appears to break privacy laws and Google's own Code of Conduct.

Then comes Googles involvement with censorship, most importantly in China. In March Google stopped censoring searches, perfectly legally, by redirecting users to based in Hong Kong. This return to form by Google is definitely an honourable act, but one which makes up for an originally dishonourable decision.

Google doesn't appear to be evil yet, it still does and provides a lot of good. Like all of us it is not squeaky clean, but if it wishes to keep using its motto it will need to work a lot harder.

No comments:

Post a Comment