Brad Smith was an amazing guest speaker! As lead general counsel for Microsoft, he knows the in and outs of the tech market and even more about privacy law. During the Q&A a student asked him about Microsoft’s new campaign, “Scroogled,” which aims to inform the public of Google’s improper use of Gmail users personal information in order rack up advertising sales. Google’s profit model is based on creating products/services that are then available to the market for free and profiting off advertising revenues. I have no qualms about this business model up until learning from Mr. Smith that Google was combing my Gmail account and extracting my personal information.
I am not a very private person – I am an active Facebooker, Instagrammer, Tweeter, etc. – but I believe that my Gmail account should be private: THIS IS MY INBOX, which is way more important than my physically locked up mailbox, AND ITS CONTENTS ARE FOR MY EYES ONLY! I have extremely “sensitive” information in my Gmail account (along with the momentarily funny and forever corny chain emails I get from my mother): electronic receipts, travel confirmation numbers, delivery information, subscription records, tickets to see Joan Rivers perform stand-up tonight, employment listings, job contacts, my daily horoscope, and on and on the list could go.
Google should not be allowed to access any of this information and I signed (anonymously of course!) the Microsoft “Scroogle” petition to formally object! You can do so too by clicking here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/997/086/864/tell-google-to-stop-going-through-your-email-to-sell-ads/?z00m=20503710.
The marketplace, myself included, does in fact believe some things are not to be aired. The leaders of the tech market should be cognizant of this when designing products and crafting their business models because their costs of doing business should not fall squarely on their consumers. Even though I do feel violated I also shudder at the thought of parting ways with Gmail. I am grateful to Mr. Smith and those other brainiacks at Microsoft who decided to inform the world about Google’s intrusive practices. Further, I applaud this endeavor because it is paving the way for increased self-regulation by market forces. The more the public knows about these companies’ practices (rather than the other way around) the better!
More web chatter about “Scroogled!”
First, we have a comic commercial video of Google reading your Valentines Day love letters, brought to you by Microsoft: http://techcrunch.com/2013/02/14/bing-launches-new-scroogled-video-for-valentines-day-warns-google-will-read-your-love-letters/.
Next, some more inside scoop from the Bay Area: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Microsoft-Hits-At-Google-In-New-Scroogled-Ad-Campaign-191738631.html.
And finally, not everyone feels the way I do so here is a criticism of “Scroogled:” http://techland.time.com/2013/02/16/how-microsoft-scroogled-itself/.