Google – Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hide

Google is most probably the most powerful web conglomerate of our time. It influences peoples business and private lives in numerous ways. Google has launched a ton of services beyond its search engine in the last few years. Here are some of them:

Google Mail – Without a doubt the best free email service out there
Google Earth – A great way to travel the world from your desktop
Google Base – A place to post all kinds of content including private ads
Google Desktop – A tool that lets you search your own desktop in a second
Google Books – An effort to scan every book there is and make it available at on site
Google Analytics – A site analytics tool formerly named Urchin that gives marketers comprehensive information about their visitors.

Without a doubt Google has introduced a great number of very popular tools at a rather affordable price: free!

Google has also been very influential in how website are getting designed today. They have been putting countless efforts into their algorithm in order to male content more important. Quality content rules in Google’s book and that is the mantra conceptbakery has been singing since we first started. We owe Google a big thanks for making our lives a bit easier and putting more emphasis on better websites.

Why would we even think about a dark side of Google then?

If you think a little bit more you’ll remember the #1 rule in American business life: There is no free lunch. Same here. Google offers these services in exchange of data they are collecting about you, your habits and preferences, your website traffic, the content you store on your desktop etc…

They collect more data than even we can think of. They claim that the data is safe and that they won’t reveal a users identity to authorities.

Google is usually very secretive and only provides us with very small snippets of their information.

Unlike Yahoo, Google won’t show you how much others are bidding on keywords you are interested in. Unlike Yahoo Google doesn’t show you how many searches were performed for a certain keyword in the last month.

Then there is Google Zeitgeist that shows some user preferences broken up by regions. But this is not even a small glimpse of what they see.

Google is a blessing in disguise and needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Yes we are all using their services but we should be aware of the amount of information we are transferring to the big G.

Personally I try to use services from Yahoo, Google and other providers to at least make it a bit harder to give someone else the full picture of what I am doing. They’d have to pay me really well to get full access to my brain…

I was no surprised to hear that Microsoft and Yahoo are cooperating with the Chinese authorities. Learning that Google is doing the same and censors their search results in China to be politically correct came as another wakeup call to me. I am sure many others felt really sad about these news as well. Google missed a huge chance to make a difference. Missed!

Google is very far down the corporate alley already. They will not hesitate to do a lot of things we won’t like to protect their interests. They will use their power to satisfy their shareholders – not some of the other things we might have been hoping for a few years ago.

So what happens if Uncle Sam will knock on their door and wants the information of everyone who visited a particular website or downloaded a certain document or sent a mail containing certain keywords?

Do we need to remind you that Google is already in the process of sharing facilities with a Government agency, even if it is “only” NASA?

I see a clear chance that innocent people could get into a lot of trouble. Thanks to the biggest data collector of the world.

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