“Beware the Ides of March!”
….but from my perspective, at least, there’s something in each of the complaints, and the way that Google seems to be dealing with them doesn’t exactly seem positive or productive. They’ve come out fighting, complaining about regulation without seeming to ask why that regulation has happened. Regulation doesn’t come from a vacuum – if it did, it wouldn’t get support, even from the most zealous of bureaucrats. Regulation arises in reaction to a problem – sometimes it causes problems of its own, sometimes it is over the top, sometimes it misses the point, but it unless there’s a problem there to start with the regulation won’t get even close to becoming reality. Here, there IS a problem, and if Google wants to stop everyone having it in for them they need to start by recognising the problem and starting to address it. If Larry Page wants to stop excessive regulation from stifling innovation and stopping forward progress, he should know what to do.
Why did Caeser meet his doom on the Ides of March? Was it the jealousy of all those around him, each wanting to stick the knife in? That certainly seemed to contribute – but it probably wasn’t the main reason. Everyone had it in for Caesar because he’d become a tyrant. He’d stopped listening. If Google wants things to change, it has to start by changing itself. It has to understand why people are bothered by all the things it has done – and do something about them.
From a privacy perspective, Google stands at a crossroads. There have been signs that it had started to ‘get’ privacy – Alma Whitten in particular seems to have a real understanding of the issues – but at the same time there is still a sense that they want to ride roughshod over everyone’s objections. If Google choose the ‘privacy direction’, they could play a key part in shaping a more ‘privacy-friendly’ internet. They seem at times as though they’re floundering – privacy could be a chance for them to find a new role, one which would get the support, rather than the opposition, of a great many people.
P.S. For anyone that doesn’t recognise either the title of this post or the picture, it’s from that prime example of fine British film-making, Carry On Cleo. If you haven’t seen it – do!