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Google: it is time to return to not being evil
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-09-05 11:08:30
Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Vivalvi (and former CEO of Opera):

Recently, our Google AdWords campaigns were suspended without warning. This was the second time that I have encountered this situation. This time, however, timing spoke volumes.

I had several interviews where I voiced concerns about the data gathering and ad targeting practices - in particular, those of Google and Facebook. They collect and aggregate far too much personal information from their users. I see this as a very serious, democracy-threatening problem, as the vast targeting opportunities offered by Google and Facebook are not only good for very targeted marketing, but also for tailored propaganda. The idea of the Internet turning into a battlefield of propaganda is very far away from the ideal.

Two days after my thoughts were published in an article by Wired, we found out that all the campaigns under our Google AdWords account were suspended - without prior warning. Was this just a coincidence? Or was it deliberate, a way of sending us a message?

Large technology companies have an immense amount of control over and influence on our society, far more than they - or anyone else, for that matter - care to admit. We're way past the point where governments should step in and start to correct this dangerous situation. It's time for another breakup of the Bell System. It's time we, as society, take a long, hard look at corporations - in tech and elsewhere - and ask ourselves if we really want to be subject to the control of organisations we effectively have no democratic control over.

I'm not a proponent of nationalisation, but I am a proponent of breaking up Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and possibly others (I'm sticking to technology for now) to severely limit their power and influence. The products and services these companies create have become too important and too vital to the functioning of our society, and they should be treated as such.

It wouldn't be the first time we, as society, decide a certain product has become too vital to leave in corporations' unrestricted hands.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-30 -- 31-40 -- 41-42
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Comment by TheCovvboyOnline
By TheCovvboyOnline on 2017-09-05 12:23:52
"I'm not a proponent of nationalisation, but I am a proponent of breaking up Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and possibly others (I'm sticking to technology for now) to severely limit their power and influence. The products and services these companies create have become too important and too vital to the functioning of our society, and they should be treated as such."

Absolutely agree; I'm definitely not a proponent of nationalisation either but the reach, and intrusiveness, of companies like Facebook and Google, and their associated companies, e.g. Snapchat, where that association isn't always obvious to end users, has created a situation where people are increasingly revealing an very detailed personal profile that is being used by these companies in ways that end users are unable to control. I'm avoiding Google where possible now, trying to create 'air gaps' but feel that even for sophisticated users there's little that can be done to stop information leaking out.

I don't know how governments would go about making 'Baby Bells' out of these huge organisations but something needs to be done, and the suspicion will be - if nothing does get done - that governments are enjoying the benefits of all this data gathering and profiling.
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Those companies are that powerful by design.
By Dr.Cyber on 2017-09-05 12:23:55
They are big pals with Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam helps them grow big and strong and in turn they spy on us and dumb us down so that we can be more easily controlled by Uncle Sam.

People looking up to the government for solutions against societal problems are like cows looking up to the butcher for solutions against cow-slaughter.
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Comment by judgen
By judgen on 2017-09-05 14:25:10
As long as the "sollution" is not government, i am up for it.
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RE: Comment by judgen
By Megol on 2017-09-05 15:33:40
> As long as the "sollution" is not government, i am up for it.

Please read some history - mob justice isn't pretty.
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How I view this
By Megol on 2017-09-05 15:37:49
An absolute nobody see an opportunity to get some free PR + gather sympathy for himself and his worth-nothing company.

The reasonable thing would perhaps be to contact Google? Nah, to easy - and it's cool to be a virtual martyr instead of leader of an useless company that provides no innovation in a stagnant world of shit software.
Permalink - Score: -1
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Fat chance
By shotsman on 2017-09-05 15:37:57
That genie escaped the bottle a long, long time ago.
Google is in a Social Media and now Social Engineering battle with the likes of Facebook.
While Google exists, it will want to use (And sell) every bit of data it can. How else can it make the billions it needs to survive?
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Sorry but not sorry
By Ikshaar on 2017-09-05 15:39:07
So the guy tries to play it both way and got burn, so what ? he complained of Google tactics playing the crusader against bad Google while advertising on their system... talk about a hypocrite. Opera failed because it was an average browser with a terrible business model, not because of Google Docs.

I am sorry but I don't fall for these grand-standers. What was Google supposed to do, not introduce Google Doc because a mediocre barely used browser was not supporting it...
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70/50 rule
By Sabon on 2017-09-05 17:04:45
My personal take on this is that any company that grows to control over 70% of a market should be split in two (or more) pieces. This would, of course, extend all the way up to the parent of all parent companies.

In other words, at the top of any business hierchy chart, cannot own one or more companies that COMBINED own more than 50% of a market segment unless they grew in a combined way to organically own more than 50% of a segment.

To clarify. If all their companies made up 49.999~% of a market segment, they could not buy another company that brought them to more than 50.00000~% of the market.

This would stop monopolies from forming or being bought.

This would take care of every market that exists. If enough countries make this rule for every company that does business in their country, it would block monopolies from being able to do business in more and more countries and effectively limit their power.

What about companies like Google with Android where they don't directly control over 50% of sales? The company would be split up into enough separate companies until they controlled less than 50% of the smart phone market.

Note: This includes Apple because Apple controls more than 50% of the profits.

The downside of this would be that if you wanted Product A, because you feel it is the best product in the world. Unless you were rich you might not be able to afford it any longer because of supply and demand.

If more than 50% of the market wants that product, you have demand with limited supply. This would allow that company to raise the price of their product. And how many companies wouldn't raise their prices if they felt the market would support that? Very few.

How do you fix things? I would like to hope that the smartest minds in the world like Stephen Hawking would help come up with an answer for things like this.
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RE: 70/50 rule
By Ikshaar on 2017-09-05 17:15:38
You cannot create competition out of thin air. Facebook owns 100% of the Facebook market because it is just a product. Same for Apple. Only Apple sell Apple computers so it is a moot point.

Even for the online search, Google dominates because they are better than anything else. Let's not forget that Google succeeded because they had a better search algorithm than AltaVista and a cleaner webpage than Yahoo.
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RE: 70/50 rule
By Thom_Holwerda on 2017-09-05 17:23:39
> My personal take on this is that any company that grows to control over 70% of a market should be split in two (or more) pieces. This would, of course, extend all the way up to the parent of all parent companies.

The problem is that a lot of corporations can be far more powerful and influential while not having any majority share whatsoever. Apple has like a 90% share of smartphone profits, and is probably a far, far more dominant and influential player than any other company. Defining influence by market share is a recipe for injustice.
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