Google's recent flip-flops on privacy were further exacerbated by recent remarks by Google evangelist Vint Cerf. At the Technology Alliance's annual lunch meeting in May, Cerf said: “Nothing you do ever goes away, and nothing you do ever escapes notice. There isn’t any privacy, get over it.” The remarks were widely published, but according to Blogoscoped's Phil Lenssen and Cerf himself, they were taken out of context.
Cerf says the remarks were intended to be partly in jest and partly in irony:
"I was reflecting on how long stuff stays around on the Internet and how often you or others find things you have long forgotten but that have a life on some web site or file server that happens to have either been indexed itself or perhaps a pointer to the particular object (document, image, file, video) has been captured along with nearby text that makes it common for a search engine to associate the text with a local image (even if the two are actually unrelated). Of course, my comment could not go into such a level of detail but I was trying to suggest that we really have entered a period when things are a lot less private. Think of the ease with which photos and videos can be taken, digitized, shipped around on the Internet, posted on YouTube or its equivalent. We are walking, talking recording and broadcasting systems. Once the costs of such capability have become incidental, it seems like everything becomes a part of this gigantic recording system. People often cite statistics about how many video cameras capture your movements in London daily, for example."
Or how many people quote Vint Cerf when he spouts off on privacy, either in earnest or in jest. Cerf's right. There isn't much privacy left once everything starts being shared digitally via the likes of Facebook or StreetView. But it would be nice if Google at least tried, as part of its do-no-evil mission, to protect what little privacy users have left.
The Source Seeker blog is written by Julie Bort, editor of the Open Source Subnet site as well as the Microsoft Subnet, Cisco Subnet sites. Indeed, Bort is the Online Community Editor for all of Network World. She also writes The Microsoft Update blog. If you have an idea for a blog, or a news tip on open source, Microsoft or Cisco, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 970-482-6454 or follow Julie on Twitter @Julie188.
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