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Why We Fear Google; Mathias Döpfner’s Open Letter To Eric Schmidt

Google Personal SearchMathias Döpfner, CEO of the largest media group in Germany, has published an open letter to Google chairman Eric Schmidt outlining all the reasons for the public to distrust the company. Döpfner’s explanation paints a picture of the innovation and technological progress that the internet giant has achieved that is very different from the usual news stories.

The letter, which appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine, directly addresses the anti-trust suite Google is facing in Europe. It goes on to point out how the kind of dominance held by Google over the search engine industry leads to what he believes to be a form of extortion.

“As “compensation,” however, a new advertising window will be set up at the beginning of the search list, in which those companies who are discriminated against will be able to buy a place on the list. This is not a compromise. This is an officially EU-sanctioned introduction of the business model that in less honorable circles is referred to as protection money – i.e. if you don’t want me to kill you, you have to pay me,” wrote Döpfner.

Comparions to George Orwell’s 1984 were also raised as Google is privy to almost everything that is done on the internet. This comparison would have been easier to dismiss if Google did not recently update their Terms of Use to better inform their users of the email scanning that does happen. The internet giant claims that the scanning is done to improve advertising content; but it doesn’t hide the fact that personal information is still being read (even if the scanning is done by a machine).

“The essence of freedom is precisely the fact that I am not obliged to disclose everything that I am doing, that I have a right to confidentiality and, yes, even to secrets; that I am able to determine for myself what I wish to disclose about myself. The individual right to this is what makes a democracy. Only dictatorships want transparent citizens instead of a free press.”

Google has made some amazing strides in bringing useful services to the internet, and such accomplishments have made technology available to the masses. However, we may be arriving at a point in time where we must decide just how much of our private lives we are willing to share with corporations, and what the cost of it will be to our future.

Döpfner’s letter is quite substantial in length, but he does raise some valid concerns about the state of the internet. You can read the complete story here.

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