Feeds

The 800lb Googilla in the boardroom

Still doing no evil?

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Column Google, like the legendary 800lb gorilla which got elected to the board, has reached the sort of size and influence where it can sit where it likes in the boardroom.

Two questions:

1) should we do something to protect ourselves from this 800lb gorilla? and 2) if so, what?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was pretty lukewarm about a recent Google initiative - to help the search giant personalise searches and target adverts, it normally keeps a permanent log of all searches - and the IP addresses of the users who make them.

In March, Google announced that it would delete personal details within two years. Do you feel any safer?

"It's an important concession, but we hope it's just a first step," one report quoted Kevin Bankston from the EFF. What would be the second step? Would you feel any safer?

Let me amuse you with a brief story about two vets - animal doctors, not Vietnam ex-servicemen - and a dangerous dog. It goes back to when I had two very small children and discovered they were scared of dogs; I immediately got two pets. The bigger of the two had a sore eye, which turned out to need emergency surgery...the need for which was completely overlooked by the first vet because he was so scared of the animal.

"It's a chow-chow," he said, retreating to the other side of the room. "They give no warning. Never keep one in a home, especially not with small children." And he gave us ointment for its sore eye which, of course, didn't work. So we took it to another vet, who immediately gave it anaesthetic and fixed the problem. He thought the other vet was ignorant. Here's what he said:

"I'd far rather deal with a big company like Google," he said, "which looks big and dangerous, than with a small outfit which people think is cute and dynamic - but which can actually leave your finances in a ruin."

OK, he wasn't talking about Google, but you take the point.

If you see a Rottweiler in the park, and it's walking along with its owner, without a muzzle and without a lead, you can relax. You're pretty much certain that it's a well-behaved beast, because something that big, strong and deadly simply can't be let loose in public if it is in any way vicious.

But a tiny little Yorkshire terrier - while it may be too small to jump up and tear your throat open - can still cause permanent injuries. And the difference is that people ignore the cute little Yorkie. "Ah," they say, "what a brave little beast! Hasn't it got spirit! Such pluck...".

So take the 800lb Googilla. Googilla dominates the search engine business in a way that no monopoly authority would permit. It's even bigger in the advertising business - and frankly, if you think it's already too big for comfort, just come back in a decade and you won't believe your eyes.

Let me terrify you. As you may be aware, I run a small news site. Googilla is one of my larger advertisers, and about a year ago I became aware that my news stories weren't getting listed in Google News. So I did what anybody would do if they uncovered a bureaucratic bungle - I notified the appropriate department.

Back by return came a robot answer thanking me for my feedback.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.