Google’s motto has been “Don’t be evil” for years. I’m starting to think they should change it to “Don’t (get caught) being evil.”
But this latest misstep is much worse than anything we’ve seen from the company before. Apparently Google, and other Fortune 500 companies, have been exploiting a bug in Apple’s Safari browser and have been tracking users without their consent. And though I don’t use Safari too often (ironically, I prefer Chrome), this still enrages me. When I do use it, I definitely don’t want my activity tracked without my consent. I already harbor “1984”-esque fears of Big Brother watching me, I don’t need Google to actually do it.
Neowin.net’s Tyler Holman said it best: “From time to time, companies happen to run across such bugs while building software for platforms other than their own. In such situations, it is considered ethical to kindly inform the software maker of their error, so that it may be promptly patched, even if they happen to be your rival. It’s just good manners, and it’s good for the industry as a whole.”
Holman points out the nut of the issue: Google is deliberately going against their “Don’t be evil” motto, the very thing they have prided themselves on for years. They are supposed to set the example for the rest of the industry. If it goes around mining user data without permission, surely other companies are going to as well.
The idea of online privacy has been fluid the past few years (Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg), but that doesn’t mean I don’t still value mine. Google has every right to track my activity when I’m signed into its services and using its browser, but not under any other circumstances. It’s like the police installing a GPS tracker in my Jeep just for fun. This just illustrates the fact that many large Web companies may not care about users’ privacy, even though they say they do.
Google, I think it’s time for you to take a step back and rethink your strategy as of late. You’ve already changed the way search will always work, making it too personal and too cluttered. Now you’re spying on me. If I didn’t love you so much, this relationship would be over. Do your users a favor and “Don’t Be Evil.”