Mr. Fleischer made news yesterday when he presented Google’s call for “global privacy standards” at a UNESCO meeting. Google endorsed the weak (“flexible”) APEC proposal as a model framework. Really, Google should be ashamed. Rather than grabbing the lowest-hanging privacy fruit, the company should be calling for national policies that truly protect us. Google needs to engage in a honest discussion about the role data collection and targeted interactive marketing plays in its business. That’s where Google generates (according to its most recent 10K) 99% of its revenues. The reason Google is on a privacy PR offensive now is because of the mounting criticism coming from NGOs and regulators reviewing its overall approach to privacy as well as its proposed takeover of Doubleclick. Google wants to become, in its own words, the “definitive source of marketing intelligence.” In the digital ad era, that means knowing so much about each and everyone of us it can deliver a steady flow of precisely targeted interactive marketing messages across all platforms.
Can Google be candid? It should return to UNESCO and other national capitals (Back to Madrid, Peter! and to DC too) and explain how it plans to deal with Doubleclick and all the data it generates. Be forthcoming about what kind of data collection is at the heart of its mobile marketing plans. But in addition to honestly informing the public, Google must strive to do what’s right. Otherwise, they are merely a huge corporation more concerned about ever-expanding profits than protecting the public interest. It’s hard to believe they can’t embrace a business model where protecting human freedom and autonomy comes first.
PS: We urge you to read Marc Rotenberg’s comments about the APEC standard Google hails as a model. Here’s a link to a CNET story.