[RANT] Why I stopped trusting Google

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Lately I’ve been telling many of my friends to be very careful about Facebook because they don’t take our privacy seriously. This past week another company joins that list – Google. In addition to privacy, their business practices also make me highly suspicious of them.

Google’s recent actions have made me stop trusting them. I admit, these are very geek reasons that many of my friends won’t understand, but they’ve made me seriously reconsider my relationship to Google and how much I should support them.

Here’s the short version. They’re a great company but they hide behind their unoficial motto of “Don’t be evil” when they are clearly happy to be a little evil. I hate it that they’re two-faced, because I can’t trust people that are two-faced.

So now, if you’ve got a little time to listen to me rant, here’s why I stopped trusting Google:

Privacy

1. Google CEO Eric Schmidt dismisses privacy

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place,” said Eric Schmidt.

After recently reading Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, I’ve got a new appreciation of the importance of privacy and it makes me very concerned that the company that handles my email, calendar, search and more seems so unconcerned about privacy.

I highly encourage reading EFF’s editorial on this: Google CEO Eric Schmidt Dismisses the Importance of Privacy. Here’s a great quote:

Google, governments, and technologists need to understand more broadly that ignoring privacy protections in the innovations we incorporate into our lives not only invites invasions of our personal space and comfort, but opens the door to future abuses of power.

2. So many privacy “blunders”.. maybe they’re intentional?

Google does not have a good track record when it comes to handling our private information:

In the last link, a watchdog group sent an open letter to Google. Here’s a quote from the letter:

Launching a product in ‘beta’ form is not a substitute for ensuring that new services comply with fair information principles before they are introduced

Business Practices

Google was probably my 2nd favourite company after Apple. However, I began to lose my adoration of them once they started competing directly with Apple in the phone space.

3. Google copies iPhone design

Google announced their Android project a long time ago. At that time Eric Schmidt was a member of the Apple board. After Apple introduced the iPhone, Google changed it’s direction for Android.

According to a former Apple employee, the day that the Apple-Google relationship started to crumble was the introduction of the T-Mobile G1. According to him, Steve Jobs and Apple Mobile Software VP Scott Forstall had only seen Android prototypes that looked like Blackberries. The new form factor was “way too similar to the iPhone for Jobs’ tastes”.

Sure, there’s no direct evidence of Google stealing Apple’s ideas, but I think it’s pretty obvious. Google has terrible design sense, and their phone OS suddenly gets lots of similar features to the iPhone. All the while, they’re taking potshots at Apple.

4. Google sells internet users out under pretense of ‘better internet’

Google and Verizon put together a proposal that they want the US Congress to ratify that would split the internet into the “public internet” and “better internets”. This would open the door to ISPs being able to charge you more money for premium content and services on the “better internets”.

On principle I hate the idea of a tiered internet. It should be open for everyone. But what really gets me is Google’s 180-degree turn of their stance on this tiered internet (net neutrality issue). Ars Technica put together a great paper trail of betrayal: Google’s net neutrality collapse.

Also read:

Stop Being Two-Faced

Ultimately what I have come to realise is that Google is just a super two-faced company. Like MG Siegler says, “Google, Just Cut The BS And Give The Gordon Gekko Speech Already“. Seriously.

Google, you were one of the good guys (or at least so I thought). I don’t mind you wanting to make money. I want you to make money so you can continue providing us great products.

But please don’t pretend to be the goody-two-shoes with your “Don’t be evil” mantra and then turn around and stab us in the back later. Because when you do that, people who don’t know better fall into your trap, and along the way you spoil what’s important to geeks like me.

And that’s why I’m so disappointed, and I can’t trust Google any more.

Update: Another article from TechCrunch that captures what I’m feeling: Google Is Anakin, Verizon Is The Emperor, And The Dark Side Is Winning

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