Friday, March 16, 2007
Don't Be Evil
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. At least, that's the conventional wisdom. Yet time and again, Larry Page and Sergei Brin prove that it is possible to have scruples, and still make obscene quantities of money. As they continue to drive the science of search, they're opportunities to cross to the Dark side abound, but still they refuse to compromise their simple mantra- Don't Be Evil. Each day, more and more information is aggregated inside the heart of the Googleplex. Year after year, additional services are unveiled. GMail, Google Video, and of course, Blogger. All free to the public. All that is required is that we put our faith and trust in their hands.
Thus far, they have proven worthy of that trust, and in the wake of numerous scandals brimming forth from our federal government, Google may be the only large organization that has. In fact, they have gone head-to-head with our government to protect our privacy and the very bedrock on which the Constitution is built. When the technology is present to track the click-stream of every user, the search giant is erring on the side of the 4th Amendment. They are placing a concrete limit of 18 to 24 months on the length of time they will hold personal information from their users in their data bank. They don't have to do this, mind you. There has been no government order mandating this policy change. In fact, our government would prefer they hold data indefinitely and clandestinely feed it directly to Homeland Security. The founders of Google continue to impress. One can only hope that the will find equally strong-willed successors, lest the power fall in to the wrong hands.