May 032012
 
 May 3, 2012  Business

Andy Greenberg suggests that it would behoove Google to speak out against CISPA:

Here’s why Google should publicly state its opposition to CISPA now, in its own self-interest, while it still has a chance of fundamentally reworking the bill before debate begins in the Senate: No company has more to lose than Google from Web users believing their secrets in the cloud are being siphoned to government agencies.

Google’s tacit agreement with users has been that we store our information in their data centers, and they keep it private and use it only for advertising purposes. Aside from its core search business and the dozens or hundreds of private desires we type into its search box daily, its projects like Chrome OS and now Google Drive illustrate that Google wants private users and even businesses to someday store everything in the cloud.

Read more on Forbes.

Right now, Google is in hot water with everyone. It’s in hot water with users who are just finding out that a Google engineer intentionally coded the collection of their WiFi data, and governments are equally upset that much of what Google has now revealed wasn’t told to them when they conducted their own investigations.

Given a choice between the public and governments, I suspect Google is more inclined to placate governments right now, and if that means supporting CISPA – or at least not overtly criticizing it – that’s the way they’ll roll. After all, are most users really going to stop using their services if all companies will be in the same position of turning over data to federal agencies without a warrant?

Yes, Google should speak up and say that CISPA fails – hugely – on privacy protections. As Andy suggests, it might help them restore their Very Tarnished Reputation and it might encourage foreign businesses to use their services going forward (if CISPA doesn’t pass in its current form). But then again, is this the issue Google wants to use any of its chips for? Do they really want to antagonize all the members of Congress who actively supported CISPA when those same legislators may be calling Google to task over the latest StreetView revelations?

I’d love to be pleasantly surprised by Google speaking up to say that CISPA is not okay as it was passed by the House.  The cynic in me doesn’t expect that to happen, though.

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