Google good guys overtstep the mark but I’m still a fan

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

Oh Google, how could you?

That the techno-good guys, with their don’t be evil policy could overstep the mark so much in snooping on our wi-fi info while collecting data for the Street View mapping system was sad news indeed (http://is.gd/cew1X).

Yes, I know they reckon it was all a bit of a mistake on their part, that the collection of payload data from open wireless networks (in other words, those that weren’t password protected) was a complete mistake, but it doesn’t alter the fact that they did it .

And they did it after telling all the paranoid, tinfoil hat-wearers who were wringing their hands and predicting falling of skies, ending of worlds and general mayhem when the Google car was out there on our roads filming that no, they had not collected any personal data.

Even worse, they did it after I poked the borax at the aforementioned wearers of tinfoil hats. So, to all my slightly paranoid readers: I apologise.

OK, so given there are probably about three regular readers (counting my poor, long-suffering husband), I’m not having to apologise to many of you. But there it is anyway, my apology to go with the Google apology.

But really, that’s not Google’s biggest sin of the past week.

Oh no, there’s also the cougar situation. Google has decided to censor the placement of ads for a dating site aimed at older women who seek the company of younger men. Or, as they are now known, “cougars”.

Come on Google, what gives? I go to some of my favourite handbag sites (yes, I know, I’ve got a problem) and I get Google advertisements for fake Louis Vuitton bags and the other day I spotted one for some dodgy pills for blokes that likened their potential performance to a volcano, but the cougars are deemed unsuitable for family audiences (http://is.gd/cewjZ)?

Of the three advertisements I’ve mentioned, the only one I really have a problem with is the fake bags, because it’s illegal.

It’s worth noting, though, that apart from those wee issues over this past week I’m still a Google fan: the good definitely outweighs the bad.

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