Google’s new motto: “Don’t be evil [to often to get caught]?

Google is well-known for its motto “Don’t be evil”, it is mentioned in the corporate Code of Conduct on Google’s website.  Google has enjoyed nearly 12 years as the “good guy” alternative to the “evil giant” Microsoft.  I have bought into the good image:  when Google makes a mistake, I accept it as exactly that: an isolated incident rather than a pattern of conduct.  Lately, I am wondering if I should reconsider my view, the mistakes are becoming to consistent and frequent:

  • We are open unless you are very successful in modifying our “open” Android operating system, then you will hear from us. (I am refering  to Google’s treament of CyanogenMod’s chief developer, Steve Kondik last year. See the story here.)
  • Opps! we accidentally gathered your wifi information
  • Woops! we snuck Buzz into your GMAil with privacy settings wide open [Now, that is what we consider “open” 🙂 ];
  • Were in China, oh, now were out of China, okay, maybe we are back in a little bit, trust us, we know how to handle communist regimes that govern over a billion people; and
  • Just so you know, we have decided to divide up the Internet with Verizon and will be creating a new “private” Internet.

Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg are considered evil because some privacy settings were open by default.  Google epxoses millions of people private contact information to the public and essentially is given a pass.

Is the “Don’t be evil” moddicker worth anything at this point?  Not much in my opinion.  Google is a publicly-traded company answerable to its shareholders and Board of Directors.  If the company’s financial performance is poor, the shareholders are unlikely to be mollified by the refrain from management “but at least we were not evil”!

Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."

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