Feeds

Google must channel SOPA rage again – against your privacy

Once more unto the breach, dear netizens

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Put down the NOHO, victorious SOPA protestors – the mothership needs your help once again. Google needs to mount a SOPA-like campaign against European privacy protection proposals, says a US academic. It's for the greater good, apparently.

Jane Yakowitz, a visiting professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, writes that unregulated privacy invasion by web companies is for the greater good, and calls the EU proposals, including the 'right to be forgotten', as "a misguided attack on the information economy".

We already know Google hates the privacy proposals – but we didn't think it would try and enlist netizens. This is what Yakowitz recommends. What Google needs to do, she writes, is rally the kind of furious protest that saw Wikipedia go dark - and a Scottish farm certification agency deluged with nasty emails. She writes:

"Google and other major internet companies might want to start coordinating a protest similar to the effective campaign we saw here in the states in response to SOPA," she urges. What would that look like?

"If Google makes every person with the first name 'John' ungoogleable for a day, and if online retailers refuse to access cookie data for a day, and if content providers double the amount of advertising for a day, pressure can build before the Directive comes to a vote."

It may sound quite crackers - the sort of thing you'd expect from an American legal academic - but Yakowitz is writing on the website of the Berkman Center. Berkman is the eccentric but influential New Age think-tank attached to Harvard Law School, and it receives substantial donations from Google. Berkmanites have risen to important policy roles both in Silicon Valley and in the Obama administration. Berkman emeritus fellow Andrew McLaughlin moved from a role as head of public policy for Google to become deputy CTO for Obama. (See "Obama administration joins Google for details of other, and Google's subtle, RAND-like influence on the sphere of ideas).

(If you want to know just why web companies want your personal data so rapaciously - this bit of context may be helpful. Silicon Valley's deeply conservative web companies have proved spectacularly inept at raising revenue from other means such as creating partnerships, building platforms, doing bundling deals, and netting transactional revenue. Cannot compute! So data mining is the only club they have in their golf bag. And they're not going to let anyone take it away.)

In short, we may see a kite struggling into the air. Do you think it will fly?

There are many interesting implications to Yakowitz's argument, to which she seems oblivious. One is the denuded sense of the individual that's presented back to us by web companies. This matters to many of us, rather more than the financial health of large internet corporations matters to us.

Last week, Google turned the rage of the internet mob to its advantage, against legislation proposed by media companies. Yakowitz now urges it to turn this rage against ourselves. Not only is this a little presumptuous – she must think Google can turn the fury of the crowd on and off like a tap – she either forgets (or doesn't know) why people are concerned about privacy in the first place. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
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.