Google & Privacy

Apple has been firing a lot of thinly veiled shots at Google recently over their approach to user privacy, marking a distinct disagreement over where the balance should lie when handling user data to provide the best possible services.

The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones took the opportunity to get Google Chairman Eric Schmidt's take on the matter:

I put it to him that the world he portrayed involved all of us handing over a lot of our data and asked whether Apple had a point when it said Google was not too concerned about privacy. Having dismissed Apple's claims, he launched into an explanation of the many protections that Google offered its users.

He said the firm was very heavily regulated, both in Europe and the United States, and it would be "terrible if Google were to violate any of those things". Users had all sorts of options to delete any data that was held by the company or to use "incognito" browsing which makes it very difficult to figure out what you are up to. And he stressed that if you were still uneasy, "these services are optional". You don't have to use Google...

This is such a bullshit response. Google aren't heavily regulated and oftentimes the regulators are concened with the wrong things, the EU's landmark "right to be forgotton" ruling is a shining example of this. The problem I have with the way Google do business is that they're not open and transparent about what they will do with your data and Schmidt's response is another example of that.

Google's services are now so woven into our online lives that giving them up would be hard.

This is a complete falsehood. It's simply not true. Other than YouTube there are a lot of great, viable alternatives to Google's services. I know this first hand because I stopped using Google's services over two years ago: DuckDuckGo is great and will let you fall back to an encrypted Google search if all else fails, there are a ton of other good email hosts, Apple's Maps are clearer to read and I find much faster to load on mobile. There are a ton of examples of this and it's a shame that people seem to be under the impression that they're stuck with Google and have nowhere to turn.