Tons of people all over the Internets are shedding all vestiges of sanity over how much information Google has access to. They’re especially rabid over the fact that Google is now archiving all chats.
Many view this as proof that the company is heading down a dark path — a path that will eventually lead to them knowing virtually everything about their account holders.
I have seen nothing but honesty from the company since I began using their search engine in 1999. I have a high level of confidence that they are using my information for the reasons they claim, and not for some hidden, malicious purpose.
However — and this is a big one — this is all contingent on their current management structure.
This debate really needs to focus on the people in charge more than anything else. They are the ones who control the “morality” of the company’s culture. As I said, I’m relatively comfortable with them right now due to how they’ve conducted themselves over the years, but that could change in one night. One bad meeting, one change in the personal life of a key decision-maker — any number of catalysts could send the company over the edge.
Imagine a room full of highly explosive gas, and then imagine a giant match. Well, the room full of gas is Google, only it’s a room the size of 10,000 football stadiums, and it’s growing every day. So the issue isn’t so much whether or not the current management staff is the match, the issue instead is the fact that there will inevitably be one at some point.
So the question then becomes — how much of your information do you want Google to have of yours when they do have that management change and open their doors to the government (and God knows who else)? This, by the way, is the match. If you think about it, it’s actually quite easy to see. I believe the current heads of Google are decent, honest people, but do you want to bank your life’s information on the fact that they will always be there? Can you be sure they will always be successful at keeping those who want their infomation at bay?
Think about how much profit potential Google represents to someone willing to take advantage of it for business purposes, or how much intelligence information it holds about account holders. It’s seriously mind-boggling, and to believe that a few good people will be able to perpetually defend this massive gold mine is an exercise in naivity.
My point is simple — don’t overreact and label Google as the great Satan or some variant thereof; that’s just being a little silly at this point. But at the same time we need to stay aware of what could, and arguably will, happen in the future.
As for me, I’m going to continue using Google; they’re an exciting company that continues to bring out some awesome products. But I won’t be using it as a primary system for personal correspondence. I prefer having all my mail under my control, i.e. on a LAMP server that I admnister. So I may use the mail forwarding from time to time, or Analytics, or whatever other cool stuff they come up with as time goes on, but I’m not going to drink the punch.: