Thanks for your response Sudoapt, and I had already conceded about the government handovers, although I would like to do some more research on what they handed over and why. But this is definitely a thing that’s going on.
Your three examples kinda proof my point though. They are all about gathering data. That IS still their business.
What I would like to know is how they handle the data. Have they indeed given out user info to third parties?
On the government thing: I’m not comfortable with the government getting google’s data on me (or anyone). But the law is the law, and I don’t really see a way to prevent this besides not operating in that country. Which for an internet search machine is rather hard I think. Does this make it ok? No, not at all, but I can’t comfortably put the full blame on Google for that.
The Microsoft/Apple/Google comparison. Microsoft and Apple are in my mind two different types of companies. They did not start out as a search machine and still aren’t. Yes I’m aware of Bing, but calling that a search machine is doing the others a disservice. They make paid software. You pay for the OS, and when you pay in money, there’s shouldn’t be hidden charges where they earn money on gathering data from you. Oversimplified, probably, but that’s what i think is fair play. Google on the other hand has never hidden the fact that they are in the business of gathering data and using that for certain goals. They offer their goods freely so that they might generate more revenue through that gathering of data.
Progress is made by finding the limits and crossing them. Is this proper behaviour? That all depends on the reactions afterwards. I’ve been part of the works council for a cable company, and some of the coolest ideas for new services had some really questionable legal grounds. The only way to find out if it can be done is by pushing and seeing if its accepted. If it is, you’re the hero who introduced an awesome new service. If it’s not you’re the villain who broke the law.
Google is in the business of info gathering and I’m not going to blame them for doing that. It’s what they do with the info that concerns me.
There are some things out on the internet and in the open about me that could be a problem in the future. I’m a trans girl, and though that is not a problem where I live, I don’t dare to go to Russia or Saudi Arabia. America is moving slowly in that direction as well. If things go weird here, it might not be safe for me here in my own country in say, 10 or 20 years. Do I worry about this? Hell yeah. Will google play a part in handing over this info? Maybe. But I’m way more concerned about “de sleepwet” that has been announced here, which allows the government to listen in on anyone without needing a cause, and the sharing of their DNA databank with 3rd parties. They already have all this info on me, and they swear its for “my own protection”.
For me google is the lesser evil i guess? With google I get neat services for my info, and I still haven’t had proof they hand it out to any non-government agencies. It’s used for directing sales that I’m interested in in my direction. I can live with this. And as I said, the government already has my secrets, they don’t need google for this. That plus the government seems willing to hand it out to third parties, and not just other governments.
Anyways, If anyone has info on google sharing with third parties, I’m still interested