I think fundamentally, we disagree about who has more damaging information. I say Amazon does. Eddie and Steve say Google. My argument is that purchase history (even without exposing credit cards) can be more damaging than search/email/feed reading/documents. I say that buying a gun tells you more about someone than searching for guns. Anyway, it’s moot.
The larger question for me is: Would we trust Google more with our privacy if we paid them?
Say you had to pay Google a monthly fee to use Universal Search, GMail, Docs & Spreadsheets or other services beyond search. Would that make you feel more comfortable? Or would you even pay for it? I wouldn’t. If this is true, what is the price point for privacy?
Google’s been getting pummeled lately on privacy issues. I think it’s harsh to criticize Google as “hostile to privacy” when users are unwilling to pay for it. The interweb has always been a Wild West, largely free, but unpoliced and dangerous to privacy. Shouldn’t the onus fall on each person to take care of personal privacy or not participate?
I guess the alternative is absolute transparency. The New York Times Magazine has a fascinating (albeit long) article on this.
To be clear, I don’t think either Amazon or Google has Big Brother intentions.
Weigh in with comments.