April 16, 2008

Greetings from the "Google Stooge"

Greetings ... from the "Google Stooge" himself. At least that's what I've been accused of being -- in those words and various equivalents -- by some of the vitriolic e-mails that I received in response to my take on the lawsuit filed against Google's Street View service.

To say that I feel immersed in a Kafkaesque adventure would be an understatement -- especially after the wide range of writings and comments I've made over the years.

We seem to have reached the bizarre and I would submit unhealthy Internet chapter where saying anything positive regarding Google triggers an onslaught of negative responses ranging from accusatory complaints to bitter tirades.

There were thoughtful responses as well, both positive and negative. But even with my rather thick skin when it comes to dealing with such things, some of the naysayers were painfully impolite.

I appear to have upset some of my notable contemporaries in the "privacy community" as well. One called my posting "complete nonsense" in comments that were copied to me.

This isn't the first time in my life that I've been accused of speaking or writing what someone views as nonsense, so that sort of assessment rolls off my back pretty easily. But a message from another privacy personality was as polite as it was disturbing.

The sender noted pretty much essential agreement with my arguments regarding the lawsuit, but strongly asserted that my post was "most unhelpful" by "undermining" efforts to bring Google into advocacy group consultations.

In other words, even though what I said was true, the suggestion was that I should just shut my damn mouth up and not make any positive public statements regarding Google, even when I feel that Google is in the right.

I reject this reasoning out of hand. Public discourse regarding Internet technology, privacy, society, and the whole range of related concerns should not be conducted like a game of poker, replete with bluffs and misleading body language.

To the extent that we really care about reaching workable and practical forms of consensus on these matters, we should be as open as possible not only about what firms do wrong, but about what they've done right as well.

When a corporation -- even a big and powerful one -- is getting an unfair or raw deal -- and/or when important second order issues are also involved, interested observers should be able to so state publicly without fear of ad hominem attacks.

While a firm's management deserves to be criticized when they've screwed up, they also deserve to be publicly and openly supported when their positions are correct and appropriate.

As far as I'm concerned, for us to do anything less is ethically bankrupt.

Lauren "Google Stooge" Weinstein

Posted by Lauren at April 16, 2008 08:02 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
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