Europeans are not happy with Google’s proposed policy. They know what can happen when a government gains access to data about citizens held by private organizations. They saw it in the old Soviet Union, in Nazi Germany, and they see it today as government-sponsored terrorists assassinate relatives of their political opponents continents away.
Aside from newspapers and a handful in the Congress, Americans don’t seem a bit bothered by the new policy. Schools are notably silent on the topic, although the potential ramifications of this move for schools is enormous.
Schools are pushing for teachers to use Google documents, Google Voice, YouTube, Google Scholar. They show teachers how to use class Gmail accounts to get students access to websites and use blogger to set up their own accounts.
I hadn’t paid much attention to the implications of the privacy policies I signed, either. It was not until I clicked a link on Twitter and got a message from Google thanking me for joining YouTube that I realized where the policy change could lead.
access, preserve, and disclose your account information and any Content associated with that account if required to do so by law or in a good faith belief that such access preservation or disclosure is reasonably necessary to:
(a) satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request,
(b) enforce the Terms, including investigation of potential violations hereof,
(c) detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues (including, without limitation, the filtering of spam), or
(d) protect against imminent harm to the rights, property or safety of Google, its users or the public as required or permitted by law. [italics added]
Google doesn’t say it will turn over documents in response to a legally executed search warrant. All an agency has to do is ask. And Google doesn’t have to notify you that you are the object of a search. In effect, by using a Google service you waive your Constitutional right to protection from unlawful search and seizure.
I don’t know whether anyone on my local school board read—really read—the contract the school signed. They should have, but I suspect no one did any more than I did when I signed up for a host of Google services.
The real question is, what do we do now?
Petition for a delay in policy implementation
I am not unaware of the irony of posting this tirade on blogger, a Google service. However, given how little notice Google gave of the policy change, I’d have to do nothing but replace Google services for the next 10 days in the hope of meeting the March 1 deadline. So I’ve done the one thing I could do immediately: I’ve signed a petition asking for a delay in putting the policy into effect, giving more time for consideration of the ramifications of the policy.
New York Times: F.T.C. Tells Consumer Watchdog to Mind Its Own Business
Photo Credit: U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, DC uploaded by davidlat http://www.sxc.hu/photo/657696
[Note: After this post was uploaded, I moved the blog to wordpress and closed all my Google accounts.]