Ed Felton has a fabulous post on the privacy implications of the Google Video’s DRM technology. In his summation, he captures what the ongoing privacy issues with Google really mean for the company:
…Google’s famous “don’t be evil” motto, and customers’ general trust that the company won’t be evil, may get Google into trouble. As more and more data builds up in the company’s disk farms, the temptation to be evil only increases. Even if the company itself stays non-evil, its data trove will be a massive temptation for others to do evil. A rogue employee, an intruder, or just an accidental data leak could cause huge problems. And if customers ever decide that Google might be evil, or cause evil, or carelessly enable evil, the backlash would be severe.
Privacy is for Google what security is for Microsoft. At some point Microsoft realized that a chain of security disasters was one of the few things that could knock the company off its perch. And so Bill Gates famously declared security to be job one, thousands of developers were retrained, and Microsoft tried to change its culture to take security more seriously.
It’s high time for Google to figure out that it is one or two privacy disasters away from becoming just another Internet company. The time is now for Google to become a privacy leader. Fixing the privacy issues in its video DRM would be a small step toward that goal.