Michael Hickins of InformationWeek hit the nail on the head Thursday morning when he explained Why You Shouldn’t Expect Online Privacy.

While Mr. Hickins seems to focus a little too much on the Pornography side of online privacy, he makes some refreshingly accurate points. While everyone is screaming about their right to keep information private online Michael strips their excuses bare in just a few short paragraphs.


Google started a big privacy uproar with their new
targeted advertising initiative.

Simply, uh… Google, do a web search, on the phrase “google targeted advertising.”

Google, Facebook, MySpace and other large agregators of personal information all give away their services for FREE. Hickins hits the nail on the head with his statement:

But companies whose services I use for F-R-E-E? I have no expectation that they will do anything but try to monetize my existence in any way they can… And since I like their services enough to use them, I hope they actually do make money off me so that they can stay in business.

Targeted Ads Are Better

Google Reads Your Email! Well, no one at Google reads your email, but a program does, and advertisements appear based on your communications.

How many of us have clicked on those advertisements at the top. I know I have. Why? Because the ads were relevant to what I was talking about, interested in, and wanted to know more about.

As a business owner, I greatly appreciate Google’s advertising. Advertisement is the life blood of business. Without new and repeat customers, any company will dry up and disappear, and none of us, small business owners, are going to get bail outs!

The more customer qualification that is done before they reaches my door, the better. Someone who is researching Web Design and clicks on my advertisement’s link is a lot more likely to buy, than someone just stumbling across my blog. Keep ’em coming G!

Free Is The Name of the Game

Anything you are given for free always has a catch. The catch here is your information. Google wants to know what websites you visit so they can send you more relevant ads.

However, as Mr. Hickins points out, any service which you pay for should jealously guard your data.

Free is, in fact, the issue here. If I have a purely commercial relationship with a company…I’m generating revenue for it very directly. Same thing with my bank.
[My bank] wants me as a depositor so that it can claim to have enough deposits to cover its collateralized debt obligations. Those people must guard my data jealously

Stop Whining, or Stop Using!

Bottom line, you filled out the forms and checked the boxes to use that free service. They reserve the right to use your information in any way that’s legal and beneficial.

The service is FREE! What do you have to complain about? It is because Gmail is reading your email that it’s free. It is because those ads show up on Facebook that you can gossip with your friends.

I know no one is worrying about Google’s fate, but there are plenty of sites I use for free (like Pandora) that are hanging off the hairy edge of existence, and I want them to hold on for dear life.

Amen! Personally, I am worried about Google. This phenomenal organization’s “Don’t Be Evil” slogan has leveled some big guns toward it. Wired’s story, The Plot To Kill Google sure opened my eyes to the perils this great company faces.

While Google might have deep enough pockets to fend off the wolves, there are many more services that do not. Keep them in mind.

Don’t Be Evil

Listen to Google’s advice.