Privacy Complaints Bring Google Unwanted Attention

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-05-17 Print this article Print

5. The competition will push it

As Microsoft, Yahoo and just about every other prominent company with Web interests has found, trying to beat Google is daunting and, in most cases, ends in failure. But it's entirely possible that Google's privacy woes could be a weapon that Microsoft and its cohorts can use to take Google down a notch or two. Just as Opera Software took aim at Microsoft's Internet Explorer in its recent complaints in Europe over competition issues, Microsoft could take a similar approach against Google.

6. Size is everything

If Google were still a small search company that wanted to change the Web, its privacy troubles wouldn't matter all that much. But it's not. Google is now one of the most important companies in the entire industry. It's also the benchmark by which all other Web companies are judged. If it's not being held to a higher standard than some of the other online businesses, then that's arguably a disservice to Web users. That's precisely why Google needs to keep protecting privacy as one of its core missions in the future. Its size puts a target on its back whether it likes it or not.

7. There are precedents in place

Google isn't the first company to deal with regulators regarding privacy. It joins a long list of companies dating back a decade that have been forced to discuss how they do business. That might prove to be troublesome for Google. Since lawmakers have more than enough practice at this kind of thing, they might be more adept at highlighting the troubled areas. They might also be more inclined to focus in on Google. An informed regulator community is damaging to just about any company.

8. It won't be beloved forever

Google is coasting. The company is still widely beloved around the world, both for its outstanding services and for its stock price, which has helped bolster retirement plans all over the globe. But that level of love can't last indefinitely. Just look at Microsoft. For years, the software giant was a favorite among consumers and enterprise customers that were able to do more than ever with a computer. But all that changed as the company grew and started consolidating its power. Microsoft is now disliked around the world and that has cost it dearly. It may only be a matter of time before Google experiences the same shift in opinion.

9. It's not always easy to be the good company

All in all, Google has done wonders for the tech industry. It has pushed the cloud forward, revolutionized search and transformed the way people interact with Websites. But being the good company isn't always easy. Whenever there is a slip-up or something goes awry, it's magnified for the simple reason that it's not expected from such a company. Eventually, small problems could be blown out of proportion because of the perception of Google's brand. Fair or not, the company will need to deal with that.

10. Facebook could make it worse

It's important to remember that Google isn't the only company facing privacy complaints on the Web. Currently, Facebook is dealing with an even greater privacy issue that could come to define the social network's year. And depending on how that goes, it could cause lawmakers and privacy advocates to seek out other areas where user privacy is potentially being violated. Look for Google's services to be first on that list.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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