Google Versus the World

European Union doesn't believe that it's Google's world, and we're just living in it

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Google is asking the city of Mountain View to consider retail and residential zoning for land near its corporate headquarters.

    No wonder Google wants to create a company town in Mountain View -- increasingly, worries about the company's power over our lives are spreading around the world.

    An ongoing investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into anti-trust and privacy complaints, as well as the debate over the Google Books settlement, are some of the issues right here at home.

    Even the normally polite and friendly Canada -- Canada! -- is looking in to privacy complaints in the wake of Google's release of its new social media product, Buzz.

    And after capitulating with the Chinese government to censor search results there, Google found itself the target of international espionage by Chinese hackers possibly with the support or consent of said government.

    But European Union regulators and national governments have become some of Google's harshest critics, particularly on the privacy and anti-trust issues.

    The latest EU missive from Brussels, Belgium has European officials asking the company to notify localities in the regional press when its Street View cameras will be rolling through town taking pictures.

    They have also asked that Google not keep images longer than six months. Google currently keeps raw images up to a year, though after criticism from the EU and others it blurs out details like faces and licenses plates in images available to the public.

    Goole is resisting the requested changes, saying that they need the raw images in order to improve the existing privacy safeguards and service for its users.

    In reality, however, it's another example of how working in the relative vacuum of corporate secrecy and a culture that encourages employees to spend most of their time at the office, Google seems to struggle to keep in touch with the concerns of non-Googlers around the world.

    Jackson West uses Google products every day, but not without some worry and concern.