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Google's Misplaced Privacy Fines

A record-breaking $22.5 million fine was slapped on Google for violations. And although the company fully deserved them, they were, at the same time, misplaced.

The fine largely revolved around Safari and issues around opting out of Doubleclick ad tracking -- really the least of Google user worries. Even after you may have opted out, cookies still tracked you, despite the fact that Safari was designed to block these cookies in the first place.

The fines also related to Google Buzz (now Google+). One problem with Buzz was that as a Gmail user, all the stuff you did was shared with all your Gmail contacts. Oops.

Gmail later was found guilty of reading your e-mail and sending out ads depending on what you wrote or received. Handy and invasive.

The $22-plus million is a pittance, as Google made nearly $40 billion last year (almost all of this from ads, despite that fact that, to my knowledge, Google doesn't have a single journalist, author or real content creator on staff). It creates virtually no content, yet makes more from content than the world's largest media company News Corp. (which only brought in $33 billion and has over 50,000 employees).

The fine was misplaced because Google does far worse privacy damage when Streetview sniffs out our Mac addresses.

Google really doesn't care and, in fact, the fine wasn't for privacy violations but for contempt due to how the company acted after it was found to violate privacy.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/15/2012 at 1:19 PM


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