Ponemon's People: Google Is Too Big to Trust Anymore

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-12-16 Print this article Print

Yesterday, I noted in the wake of the Google-network neutrality fiasco that Google is a marked company by journalists and bloggers who, whether they will care to admit it in print or not, feel the company has gotten too big for its britches.

They will stop at almost nothing to paint the company as the next Microsoft. Google's search monopoly is unofficial only in so far as it doesn't "force" people to go there, though its search share continues to grow and is now past the point of any return to modesty. Neither Microsoft, Yahoo nor anyone can currently compete well here.

But maybe the media is merely reflecting the winds of change in public perception surrounding the search giant. According to the new results of an annual trust study by Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe said Google dropped off the list of the top 20 most trusted companies in the U.S. The Ponemon Institute surveyed 6,486 people to name the five companies they trusted most and least.

"Google (and Microsoft) suffer from big company syndrome," report author Larry Ponemon told the San Francisco Chronicle. "People figure that if you're big and collecting data, there must be an issue."

That's as old as the corporate world itself, but that doesn't make it less true. It's human nature to feel that a company that grows massive is looking to get its hooks in you. People are starting to feel there is a Google God sitting over there shoulder while they search, use Gmail, or whatever the Web service may be.

That Google has broadened its reach into the social realm with OpenSocial and become a fixture in the wireless space with a new mobile operating system only smudges its mascara of innocence.

Speaking of expanding, this trust issue is salient when viewed through the lens of the Wall Street Journal's questionable piece of work yesterday of painting Google's OpenEdge effort as some insidious plot to cut the packet traffic line.

Open Edge, where Google colocates its own services in Internet service providers' data centers, is designed to do the following, as GigaOm summed up:

By getting carriers to connect directly to via OpenEdge, consumers are able to better experience Google's products, such as YouTube, because videos have to traverse fewer networks. As Google correctly notes, these are non-exclusive deals with carriers; anyone can sign up for them, and the likes of Akamai and Limelight, for example, already have similar deals in place. In other words, Microsoft and Yahoo can build their own private caching network if they want to, too. No money has to change hands in these interconnection deals, which are already commonplace in telecom. But while traditionally they've been made between carrier operators, with Google's OpenEdge, the search giant would be able to shunt traffic to broadband owners' networks without paying money to intermediaries. There is nothing illegal about this.

David Isenberg has more details here, and Saul Hansell has a great bit on it in The New York Times here. I agree when he said the rhetoric confuses the issues at hand.

Yet the WSJ had painted OpenEdge as a nefarious scheme to push startups into the deadpool, or at least cut the broadband packet line. Folks: Larry Lessig was bemused by the characterization, which used him as the chief source of condemnation.

Clearly the WSJ's story is preying on Google's depleting bank of trust. So I wonder. If we take the Ponemon report and the WSJ piece into context, is the media reflecting the change in attitude by the public about Google? Or is the public influencing the media's ability to be fair and balanced?

It is when a company like Google reaches its great size and seemingly growing greed to sustain itself that it gets difficult for reporters to remain objective about a company. The media comprises public citizens, so it's hard to ask them to go against their gut when a consensus has been reached about a particular company.

Folks, Google has jumped the trust shark. To Google: Good luck getting back to shore.

del.icio.us | digg.com

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel