Don't Be too Evil
 

"Don't Be Evil" is the informal corporate motto (or slogan) for Google, established by Sergey Brin, who claimed it was a powerful and benevolent principle for Google and other organizations — corporations in particular.

"Don't Be Evil" is said to recognize that large corporations can often maximize short-term profits with actions that destroy long-term brand image and competitive position. By instilling a Don't Be Evil culture, the corporation establishes a baseline for decision making that can enhance the trust and image of the corporation that outweighs short-term gains from violating the Don't Be Evil principles.  

While many companies have ethical codes to govern their conduct, Google has tried to make "Don't Be Evil" a central pillar of their identity.

But a funny thing is happening on the way to Internet adulthood - Google's awkward teen years. The company's growth spurt has spawned a host of daunting questions that no data-retrieval system can easily answer. Should Google play ball with repressive foreign governments? Refuse to link users to "hate" sites? Punish marketers who artificially inflate site rankings? Fight the Church of Scientology's attempts to silence critics? And what to do about the cache,Google's archive of previously indexed pages?

  "Evil," says Google CEO Eric Schmidt, "is what Sergey says is evil."

Google Philosophy :  Focus on the user & His/Her Personal Info and all else will follow

1. Creepy Gmail

Gmail is a web-based e-mail service offered by Google offering 4.5+ GB of webmail storage to its users. Gmail is supported by advertisers who buy keywords, much like the Google search engine's AdWords advertising program. Gmail uses "content extraction" (the term used inGoogle's patents) on all incoming and outgoing e-mail in order to target the advertising to the user.  

Gmail violates the privacy rights of non-subscribers. Non-subscribers who e-mail a Gmail user have "content extraction" performed on their e-mail even though they have not consented to have their communications monitored, nor may they even be aware that their communications are being analyzed.  

Subscribers consent to "content extraction" and analysis of their e-mail ("We serve highly relevant ads and other information as part of the service using our unique content-targeting technology," according to the privacy policy). But non-subscribers who are e-mailing a Gmail user have not consented, and indeed may not even be aware that their communications are being analyzed or that a profile may being compiled on him or her.  

While the prospect of never having to delete or file an e-mail is an attractive feature for space-hungry users, the implications of indefinite storage of e-mail communications presents several serious implications. Building such profiles on years of past communication in addition to current communications is made easier if users never delete e-mails. Additionally, communications stored for more than 180 days are exposed to lower protections from law enforcement access; with Gmail, many such e-mails could be made easily available to police.  

Remember, since Gmail is scanning and extracting incoming e-mails as well, even if you aren't a Gmail user, your privacy may still be violated by Gmail. To avoid such scanning, keep an eye on the domain of e-mail addresses to which you are you are sending and replying.   

2. Orkut

Prof. Nigel Smart of the Computer Science Department at the University of Bristol has expressed his concern at the worrying trend of people giving up their privacy on theinternet via social networking websites. He told HEXUS: " I am concerned that from some of the posts I have seen, by colleagues, students and others, that there is a deep societal problem emerging of people giving up their privacy without realising it". They aren't the first to hear these warnings, and they won't be the last.  

People have been posting stuff onto the web for years, though, so why is privacy suddenly a bigger problem for a larger number of people? Three or four years ago, it was all about chat rooms and forums. Both have a level of anonymity by default; you can choose your handle and only talk about what you want to, truth or lies... nobody will know. 

There's more to worry about on the web than predators and viruses. We're giving everyone access to our personal lives.

Showing off your drinking triumphs to your friends? What if prospective employers are watching?

It's easy to get an account with almost any social-networking site, and we've learned from chat rooms, it's easy to pose as somebody else. It's easy, then, to get added to a friend list (especially with the 'more friends the better' attitude of current social-networking sites). Suddenly, that 'friends only' stuff is pretty much public.  

Social networking users need to take a step back and think about just what they're posting onto the Internet. It'll probably be too late for a number of people, and it'll take a lot more 'victims' of the lack of privacy before most users actually start heeding these warnings. Just beware that anything posted online to your friends now, could very easily come back to haunt you in days, months, or even years to come.

orkut.com's proprietary rights

By submitting, posting or displaying any Materials on or through the orkut.com service, you automatically grant to us a worldwide, non-exclusive,sublicenseable , transferable, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right to copy, distribute, create derivative works of, publicly perform and display such Materials. That said, our use of your personal information is governed by our Privacy Policy and we will never rent, sell or share your personal information with any third party for marketing purposes without your express permission.

Utilizing the social network's search tools, a spammer can target a certain demographic and send them notes from an account disguised as real people. These notes typically are embedded with links to pornographic or other product sites designed to sell you something.

While the damage has been limited, security professionals believe social-networking scams could easily defraud young people or even the tech savvy, if they lower their guard when visiting the sites.

 Trust me, that at present there is so much personal information on the internet (social networking sites plus some other tools) that you can do absolutely anything - starting from selling any product, finding a girl to get laid, getting a job, getting your life-partner!

  3. Cookies

Every time you visit a Google.com site, a cookie placed on your computer. This cookie is linked to your computer by a unique identifying number and enables tracking of all searches performed along with your browser type andIP address. This Google cookie does not expire until the year 2038 unlike most other major web sites which have a much shorter durations. Google claims that this cookie is required to set preferences for Google sites, but that you can still perform searches without the cookie. 

For years Google has been telling us that the cookie is necessary if you want to set user preferences. How can we argue with Google? We don't have 100 computer sciencePhDs on our payroll !

Google has inadequate justification for planting a cookie that expires in 2038 on every user, and also recording that user's search terms,IP number, and time-date. If Google needs cookie-tracking feedback for software design and improvement purposes, you could offer an incentive to accept a cookie for browser configuration convenience, and clearly explain the consequences of  "opting in" with such a cookie.  

Even given an "opt in" situation for a cookie, there is no justification for an expiration date of 2038. Google could use session cookies, or if this is not satisfactory, it would be easy to constantly reset the cookie with a 30-day expiration date. That way, if a user didn't frequent Google at least once a month, their cookie would expire. There is no excuse for your near-immortal cookies.  

Google confesses that its policy is subject to change. If Google changed its policy, would the data previously collected fall under the previous policy, or would it fall under the new policy? And even if Google has the best of intentions, it should be recognized that Google is subject to a change in ownership or control, and that all privacy policies are inherently optimistic for that reason alone.  

"We are moving to a Google that knows more about you."     —   Google CEO Eric Schmidt, February 9, 2005 

Related Links: