[rohrpost] Google’s German screw-up

geert lovink geert at desk.nl
Mon Mai 17 20:29:19 CEST 2010


Jeff Jarvis: Google’s German screw-up

Since some have asked — from media and Twitter — here’s my take on  
Google collecting too much data via its Street View car — not just wi- 
fi addresses but “payload data” that went over those networks:

Google fucked up.

It’s pretty much as simple as that. And their screw-up sure doesn’t  
help me when German media come to me asking how I can defend the  
Google they love to hate. I got a bunch of conspiracy-laden questions  
from a German reporter this morning: Google says it was a mistake and  
the reporter asks — not without betraying a considerable bias — “Is  
that really possible?” I responded: “Yes. Google is not perfect.” The  
reporter asked: “What will Google do now? Is there a chance to  
completely recover?” There’s wishful thinking in that question, eh?

Let’s analyze the situation: To what conspiratorial use could Google  
have possibly put a trace smattering of random data caught in one  
moment on a given street? I would challenge anyone to take that data  
and find a business purpose for it. In one second on one street in  
Hamburg one unknown user read a story on Focus.de. Yeah, so what?

Somebody fucked up. It was sloppy and stupid of them and sure doesn’t  
help their PR problem in Germany. But I struggle to see how this story  
shows anything more than that.

Well, it does show one thing: The bias that German media have toward  
Google. When I was at re:publica in Berlin, I got questions like these  
from many German reporters: “Isn’t Google too big?” they’d “ask.” Show  
me the law that defines “too big,” I responded. I contend that German  
media are merely jealous: Google understood how to make money online  
better than they did. And they are reflexively running to government  
to regulate it and can’t find a reason why. So when something like  
this screwup happens, they get their hopes up.

But this also shows how out of touch German media is with its audience  
on this point, for the German populace clearly does not mistrust and  
hate Google the way media do. They use Google more than just about any  
country on earth, giving Google search a 97.26% share of market. Was