Before I do, though, I want to make it clear that right now I trust Google. I haven’t seen them do anything that would cause me to not trust them, and I can see from their excellent work on things like Google Maps that they really do wish to make the internet useful for everyone. Some people don’t trust them simply because Google makes a lot of money, but I don’t subscribe to that belief system at all. I prefer living in a world where people can earn money from what they’re good at, so I have no qualms about Google getting rich from their innovations.
But the question isn’t, “Do we trust Google enough to allow something like Google Web Accelerator?” The question is really, “Fifty years from now, can we still trust them?” After fifty years of change, upheaval, etc., will they still be the “do no evil” company? Hard to say.
Which is why something like Google Web Accelerator is a little, well, unnerving. Serving as a proxy for everyone’s web activity in order to figure out what people are clicking is certainly a brilliant (and unexpected) move on their part, and in the short term I’ll enjoy seeing what they do with this information. I expect them to do much more with this data than simply use it to prioritize their search results. After all, this is attention data that they’re getting, and that’s incredibly valuable to an awful lot of people, especially advertisers and marketers.
Part of me wants to say, “Go, Google, go!” After all, they’re making the Internet OS happen, and they’re doing a hell of a job on it. But I get nervous whenever one entity gets access to so much private data, especially when I consider that no matter how trustworthy they are, they still have to submit to government requests for information access.
So, do you trust Google enough to feel comfortable about this? And how will you feel in fifty years?