In Trust (and Distrust) of Google

Eye of Chrome

There was an interesting point/counterpoint that caught my eye on the Android reddit this week—an editorial by Phil Nickinson of Android Central and a rebuttal by a Twitter user on Medium, that company’s blogging platform.

The Android Central op-ed, entitled The single reason I trust Google with my data, seeks to address the shock of users who discover that Google has been tracking their location through their Android phone.  Location tracking can be turned off, of course, but more important is Google’s transparency about the personal data it collects from you.

Phil explains it like this:

I keep thinking back to Apple’s WWDC keynote. I get the rationale behind keeping your data on your phone, and crunching it there, rather than server-side. But all I have is Apple’s word that it’s doing what it says it’s doing.

I’m more inclined to trust the company that shows me what it’s doing. That shows me which parts of my data it’s using, and tell me how it’s using it, how I can control whether I want to share it in the first place.

Don’t just say “trust me” over and over. Give me reason to trust you.

In their rebuttal, The Two Reasons I Don’t Trust Google With My Data, author @guohuade‘s reasons are “I don’t want to”, and “I don’t need to”.

The need part points to alternatives to Google products—Firefox, Opera or any number of other web browsers, other free email services, etc. The author actually posted a second piece listing alternatives to Apple, Google and/or Microsoft products.

The want part is worthy of reposting in its entirety:

What kinds of things might happen in the future that would make me regret being solely dependent on Google’s services?

Filter bubbles. When you use Google exclusively, your Internet is essentially filtered before it ever reaches your eyeballs. You don’t lose access to the rest of the Internet per se, but you do lose access to it by default.

Complacency. It is easy to forget your concerns about privacy and security when Google says it will take care of everything for you. The fact is that if a person did what Google does, we would probably call the police and report them as a stalker—and yet we allow Google to do this without even giving it a second thought!

Single point of failure. If all of your personal data is stored with Google and your Google account is ever successfully hacked—as we all know, nothing on the Internet is ever totally secure — your entire online identity (and quite possibly your real identity) is compromised. Remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link — even if that link is your own carelessness or complacency.

Power consolidation. Putting more power than is necessary in the hands of a single entity has never turned out well. For anyone. In fact, we have a whole set of hard-won laws designed to protect us from the power of monopolistic corporations. We would never let Ford become the only automobile manufacturer, or Microsoft become the only OS manufacturer. Why then, do we presume Google should be the only search and email provider?

All valid points, I think. How much do you trust Google?

Sources: Android Central, Medium via r/Android

Leave a Reply