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Friday, July 2, 2010

Google, Technology and the Danger of Trust

There are some breaking stories about international investigations into Google's unannounced access to and capture of wi-fi data in the process of its collecting photos for its Google View product.   See this  Reuters report and this Telegraph report.   Kudos to the British press.  
All of this boils down to a technology whose use and application by a company --- Google -- potentially imperils the privacy of vast segments of our information-driven society.  Google management, led by CEO Eric Schmidt (previously criticized on this blog, please search our archives), seems to feel that the populace should trust it.   But therein lies the problem.  A judgment or demand that one be trusted is by its nature not benevolent, but rather one of a command for obedience, or at the very least it is one of a command to refrain from criticism or resistance.  From a psychological level, it is indistinguishable from a threat to do harm if one isn't compliant -- something on the order of, "do as I say, or else."
Somewhere I sense a tremendous business opportunity in lawful "cloaking" devices to intentionally defeat third-party commercial "tracking" devices such as cookies, malware and the like.
Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer.  He can be reached for comment at 917-696-2442 and at

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