03 Oct Google Has World’s LAMEST Response to Apple Privacy Attack
“Now, Rebecca, if you look closely, you’ll notice that any computer running Google — and we were very careful about this — ANY computer running Google can be turned off, or even crushed with cinder blocks if you’re concerned about privacy.”
Regular Sounding Board readers will recall we recently covered Tim Cook’s uncharacteristically vicious attack on personalized advertising — which is of course the life blood of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and pretty much everyone else these days west of Korea.
To recap, Cook (basically) said that if “a company” makes its money by collecting a user’s personal data, then the user — for all intents and purposes — has become the product.
Well… Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt wasn’t about to take that lying down.
Instead, he reponded to those remarks from what can only be described as a seated position on ABC’s Real Biz program with Rebecca Jarvis last week:
“I think that’s not quite right. The fact of the matter is Google allows you to delete the information that we know about you and in fact, Google is so concerned about privacy that you could in fact, if you’re using Chrome for example, you can browse in what is called ‘incognito mode’ where no one sees anything about you. So I just don’t think that’s right.”
Now, I know I’m sometimes quick to board the hyperbole train to exaggeration town. But this may honestly be the worst rebuttal in the history of rebuttlery. Am I wrong?
What Schmidt is saying is that sure, Google is “designed” to collect as much personal user data as it possibly can and then to sell that data immediately and indiscriminantly to a horde of smarmy and possibly Nazi-affiliated advertisiers — but you can always turn that part off.
Except, no, we can’t all turn it off. Because if we all turned it off, Google’s business model would collapse — which is the whole point of Tim Cook’s attack.
It would be like GM saying, “If you’re worried about safety, just disable and replace the ignition system. No one’s honestly suggesting you drive these cars the way they’re BUILT.”
Now I’m not saying that Google is evil for collecting and selling data.
Before today, I might have even defended Google’s practices by pointing to the company’s transparency. This transaction was never intended to be secret — Google gives you free stuff in exchange for your data.
So why is Schmidt now pretending the whole thing was all just a big misunderstanding? Probably because he was instructed to do so by his crack team of crisis communications communicators.
So here’s Jonathan’s first rule of non-idiotic crisis comms: Take your lumps.
Yes, Google, you comb through people’s personal emails, and it’s creepy as hell. You also provide us with some pretty amazing software for zero dollars, so we understand why you have to be a creep about it.
Enough with the obfuscation. It’s exhausting, and it does literally nothing for my attachment upload speeds.