Is Privacy Like Water, Too?: Why did the FTC let Google off the hook for violating your privacy?
We’re used to hearing Google’s consultants tell us for years that music is like water, then movies are like water, books are like water. Now it appears that privacy is like water, too. Politico reports that Google is getting fined $22.5 million (about 8 hours of revenue):
Google ran afoul of its earlier consent decree with the FTC because of the way it approached Apple’s Safari browser. Essentially, the company bypassed browser settings that were supposed to prevent that sort of tracking while at the same time promising users it would honor their requests not to be tracked. Google has since fixed the problem, the company says.
Still, Google’s misstep conflicts with the settlement reached with the FTC for the botched rollout of Google Buzz, its now-defunct social network. A key element of that settlement — which will subject Google to 20 years of biennial privacy checkups — bars the company from misrepresenting its privacy practices. And violations of that type mean fines up to $16,000 per violation per day.
Now remember–these violations didn’t happen all by themselves–this was a pretty complex and secret program to rip off your privacy. Humans cooked this up. And if the Google drugs settlement, the Google Spy-fi debacle and a you-pick-it list of prosecutions for really devious betrayals of user trust around the world are any guideline, the humans involved went pretty far up the food chain.
Google Violates Stockholder Trust Yet Again
These human Googlers could not possibly have been acting inside the scope of their authority. Yet Google once again ponies up millions of dollars of the stockholders money to keep their executives from getting in trouble, maybe even getting indicted.
And what do the stockholders have to say about? Nothing. The insiders at Google once again use their 10 shares, one vote supersufferage to get away with really bad behavior.
So that’s the first thing.
Google is a U.S. Government Contractor
Remember that Google is nailing down government contracts right and left, U.S. government contracts, all the while getting a pass from the U.S. Government on its truly bad behavior. It violates its own agreements with the government and buys its way out of nasty situations where its executives, including Larry Page, are exposed to being criminally indicted. Why are we giving these people the taxpayers’ money?
Google Gets Away with It Again
Yet instead of being indicted, Google gets a pass. Just like they were allowed to use $500,000,000 of the stockholders money to keep their executive suite out of prison in the drugs case, and just like they got an apology from the U.S. Department of Justice according to Google’s lawyer’s statement in open court as reported by the Wall Street Journal, Google once again gets to buy its way out of stealing your personality in the FTC investigation:
Here’s the punchline:
[A] person familiar with the matter told POLITICO the settlement is pending approval by the FTC’s five commissioners, and as it stands, it will not require Google to admit it violated either the Buzz settlement or federal law.
Why? Who made this decision?
The Age of Privacy is Over, the Time of Google has Begun
Just like we were told by the Google surrogates that we should not have a problem if someone makes a copy of our copyrights because we still have the original, the FTC is apparently of the view that the cost of making a copy of your personality is worth 8 hours of Google’s revenue.
But we’ve heard this before, right? What’s the problem if Google makes a copy of your personality? You still have the original, right?
After all, nothing says Internet Freedom like getting away with it.