Don’t be Deceptively Evil: Is YouTube a honeypot for data collection?
Remember the righteous indignation of parents over the use of the deceptive cartoon figure “Joe Camel” in the Camel cigarettes advertising campaign to sell cigarettes largely targeted at kids? The deceptive ad campaign that used a cuddly cartoon figure that was strangely infantile yet a cross between Hugh Hefner and James Bond in terms of setting and context of the cartoon campaign? A campaign that was designed to attract kids to smoking by deceving them into thinking smoking was cool at a time that cigarettes were required by law to post ever more stingent health disclosures that essentially said “If you smoke, you will die.” And that did not say, but you can have a cute cartoon character do your dirty work. The government essentially said, “Don’t be deceptive.”
MTP readers will remember that we have beat the drum about how Google will make “non display uses” of data associated with music and videos that they use as part of YouTube, Google Music (or as it is called this week, the creepy “Google Play”–Play as in “playtime”) and any other legal or illegal music services. This has never been more apparent than now given the revelations about Google’s consolidation of its privacy policies–combined with a rumored home entertainment center which no doubt will try to integrate Google Music/Google Playtime with Google TV. Do you want your mp3 player or big screen TV reporting your family’s listening and viewing habits to the Joe Camel of Privacy? Or maybe just the last four digits of your child’s social security number?
The ever-transparent (or rather never-transparent) Google did not want to testify about its privacy policies before the House Energy & Commerce Committee but instead wanted a closed-door meeting with Members. Google offered this up in record time after receiving a letter from a number of members of the Energy & Commerce subcommittee chaired by Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, widow of Sonny Bono, who was a favorite whipping boy of Poker Prof Lawrence Lessig whose organizations have received millions from Google. Coincidentally, that letter was co-signed by Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who represents the San Mateo district near Google’s Mountain View offices where Lessig once planned to run.
Of course, Google doesn’t want anyone, particularly not the government, to know what they are doing after the Google Drugs debacle, so it is not surprising that the meeting was unsatisfactory. “‘At the end of the day, I don’t think their answers to us were very forthcoming necessarily in what this really means for the safety of our families and our children,’ Bono Mack told reporters after the closed-door briefing.”
Don’t be surprised to see a new tussle break out over whether Larry Page should testify about this, too. And that will be interesting indeed.
However, in the meantime, everyone dealing with YouTube or Google Music (or I guess it’s called Google Play or is it Google Playtime?) should understand the real value of music to Google–as a honeypot for data collection that attracts a wide demographic group, starting with teens and kids. This is why Google’s “Android” is the Joe Camel of privacy. Now about that Google Playtime Home Entertainment Center….
(Connecting the dots: This was the same Jackie Speier who Lessig briefly planned to challenge in the Congressional primary after Tom Lantos died in office–a bid for public office backed by Beth Noveck who was later the White House Chief Technology Officer for Open Government and who left the White House after former Google lobbyist Andrew McLaughlin was punished for having improper communications with Markham Erickson (Net Coalition lobbyist), Alan Davidson (Google lobbyist and former Center for Democracy and Technology, Ben Scott (Free Press) and others. Jackie Speier was also an aid to Congressman Leo Ryan who was murdered in the Jonestown massacre, and Speier herself was shot five times and had to wait nearly a day before she received medical attention.)