The future of opting out

Google’s avowed aim is to make all the world’s information searchable. It’s real aim is to be the most successful advertising company in the world.

The company is famous for its dotcomisms and, in particular, a great hostage to fortune:

You can make money without doing evil.

Claims that Google fails to adhere to this one of its ten commandments usually involve privacy. As the company’s products have developed and its advertising business blossomed, it is clear that Google’s aim to make all the world’s information searchable includes our information.

The company now has to take privacy concerns seriously, because they are voiced not just by data protection regulators but also by the users of Google’s services.

Defenders of monolithic data controllers often argue that one is not forced to use the services of the data controller: one can always opt-out. But as companies like Google become progressively more pervasive, it becomes impossible to opt-out.

Which reality this Onion News Network piece expresses expertly.

3 thoughts on “The future of opting out

  1. A shift in our society has occurred the past years. We have gone from fearing the security of the internet to anything/everything goes, your nobody unless everything about you is transparent. There is little to no digital hygiene that is of any concern with many of the nets younger users. This is all they have ever known, so it must be safe, secure, and no problem at all . I don’t know where this all nets out for privacy and society. Caution is critical, storage is unlimited and cheap and everything is connected.

  2. I love The Onion, the best satire in the world, bar none.

    I get the distinct impression that all this data protection/privacy stuff has to come to a head soon.

    Even leaving aside Italy’s recent sojourn into criminalising youtube videos on privacy grounds (I’m still vague as to their legal basis for doing this) the law in this area is an utter mess, and this is going to cause more and more problems. Data, particularly personal data, is an immensely valuable commodity, and, from a look at the recent management literature it looks like total personalization is supposed to be the next ‘big thing’, even in realspace business.

    Yet we’re still basically using a monumentally opaque regime, based on vague ideas like ‘proportionality’ and ‘necessity’, deriving from a French law from the early 70’s, that was essentially designed to cover things like lists of addresses for marketing purposes.

  3. European data protection legislation (certainly Irish, at any rate) makes very little sense in the context of the internet.

    The European Commission seems content to tinker at the edges, for example proposing mandatory data breach notification requirements but only for telecoms companies.

    If the initiative is not taken by legislators soon, they will find Google superimpose its will on them, as is happening with their book settlement.

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