Home
http://www.faz.net/-gsf-7oo58
HERAUSGEGEBEN VON WERNER D'INKA, JÜRGEN KAUBE, BERTHOLD KOHLER, HOLGER STELTZNER

Almighty Google Whoever owns our data will determine our fate

Mathias Döpfner, Chief Executive Officer of Axel Springer AG, warned of the danger of Google’s omnipotence. No country will be able to wrestle down the monopolist by means of regulation. Some possibilities to limit Google’s power, however, remain.

© picture alliance / Karten Lemm Vergrößern Jaron Lanier points out possibilities to resist the seemingly almighty Google.

You can’t break up Google in the way that other companies have been broken up, because it only makes money in one way from one narrow, indivisible business. Well over 90 percent of Google’s revenues come from just one activity, the placement of little link ads. 

It is a uniquely holistic business model. There isn’t any way to split Google’s ad placements into ads that appear in phones versus computers, for instance, because that isn’t enforceable. Anyone can already open a browser on the phone to see web pages that might have originally been intended for computers. Soon it might become more common to run phone apps on a computer as well. Google doesn’t have to do anything to encourage this option other than let the open evolution of the Android operating system take its course.

The complexity of setting privacy preferences is insane

Similarly, there is no way to break the business into data spied from cars, homes, retail stores, or phones, because data from one type of sensor migrates freely to the others. Our phones already interface with our cars and with shops we visit, for instance.

Meanwhile, the idea of regulating what can be done with data is hopeless because any possible law can be routed around by a clever architecture or algorithm. We have long seen a clear example in the way that bluntly stated copyright laws were routinely outmaneuvered online over the last 15 years. 

Kopie von Google Internet-Ballon © dpa Vergrößern You alone are Google over all the kingdoms of the earth: Google wants to expand the internet to even the remotest of areas.

Even when there is a clear case of breaking the law, it becomes an impossible burden for a copyright holder to chase down every violation.  Unfortunately, any violation is as bad as a million violations online, so long as people can find it, which they can because of search engines. 

This type of asymmetrical burden will disadvantage individuals and small businesses even more dramatically when it comes to well-meaning - though useless - privacy regulations. The complexity of setting all the privacy preferences relevant to an individual is already insane. What little latitude you have to adjust your preferences with the big companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) is inadequate because you also inevitably interact with a multitude of other entities that do business with them.

Raw data is only the outer, valueless rind of the scheme

Only maniacal, obsessive, technically-minded individuals can really keep track of it all. And enforcement is only a fantasy. The effort needed to track down violations of privacy policies is already an impossibly high, and will only get worse.  

Let us simply state the truth: The idea that individuals will decide how much information to share based on setting preferences is based on a false understanding of the dynamics involved. It is an impossibility and a hopeless goal for lawmakers.

Another prominent example of how digital networks can outrun the law is the use of such networks to avoid taxation. There is a difference, however, between the bizarre futility of the endless debates about privacy policies and the situation with taxation.  

In the case of taxation, the law can ultimately be enforced, because at root what it states is quantitative and concrete. Companies should pay taxes. Meanwhile, privacy is hard to define. There are cultural and emotional aspects of privacy that might never be precisely explicated.

Kopie von The Google logo is spelled out in heliostats \during a tour of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert near the California-Nevada border © REUTERS Vergrößern Governing the earth: Google logo on solar panels in California.

When the topic is the qualitative use of information, as in the case of privacy, it’s hard to imagine that the law can ever keep up. This is why government has had such a hard time making itself relevant to copyright in the digital age. There is simply no way that the letter of the law can anticipate the agile programming of computers when the concepts at the heart of the law include qualitative concepts. 

If it is declared illegal to transfer complete files of movies or books, then they might be streamed, perhaps from foreign computers, or between individuals in a peer to peer network, and perhaps no single individual will ever possess the complete file at one time. We have all watched these games unfold over the years. Many people are sympathetic to the clever coding schemes that have been used to avoid copyright regulations. I used to be one of them. But consider the analogous game that is unfolding related to privacy.

Suppose that individuals become legally empowered to access all data that has been gathered about them. Then companies will still keep secret the correlative results that are used to anticipate and manipulate people with statistical efficiency.  

1 | 2 Nächste Seite   |  Artikel auf einer Seite
 
 ()
   Permalink
 
 
 

Hier können Sie die Rechte an diesem Artikel erwerben

Weitere Empfehlungen
The Sharing Economy Disruption’s Tragic Flaw

The case of Uber shows why European companies should not follow the example of their American competitors too closely. It pays to take the needs of customers and contractors into account. Mehr Von Shoshana Zuboff

23.03.2015, 18:12 Uhr | Feuilleton
Bundeswirtschaftsminister Gabriel Die Forderung nach neuen Spielregeln für Google

Bei einem Streitgespräch mit Google-Chef Eric Schmidt forderte Sigmar Gabriel, die Marktmacht des amerikanischen Internet-Giganten zu begrenzen. Mehr

15.10.2014, 09:18 Uhr | Politik
Europe, Ukraine and the World Integration and Disintegration

The Russian project to destroy Ukraine and the European Union in the name of an alternative global order should not shock or confuse. Mehr Von Timothy Snyder

16.03.2015, 12:30 Uhr | Politik
41.000 Meter Google-Manager bricht Baumgartner-Rekord

Der Stratosphärensprung Felix Baumgartners war vor zwei Jahren ein Medienereignis, jetzt hat ein Google-Manager den Rekord ganz gelassen gebrochen: Alan Eustace sprang aus 41.000 Metern ab. Mehr

09.12.2014, 13:10 Uhr | Gesellschaft
Bildungsdatenstreit in Amerika Nur Eltern dürfen fragen, wie es in der Schule war

Der Zugriff auf Bildungsdaten entscheidet über ganze Lebenswege. Kein Wunder, dass ein amerikanischer Gesetzentwurf zum Umgang mit ihnen für Streit sorgt. Schon vor der Veröffentlichung. Mehr Von Fridtjof Küchemann

25.03.2015, 21:31 Uhr | Feuilleton
   Permalink
 Permalink

Veröffentlicht: 24.04.2014, 10:33 Uhr

Verweigerte Ehre

Von Jürg Altwegg

Frankreich verweigert dem großen Komponisten Henri Dutilleux das Gedenken wegen seiner Nähe zum Vichy-Regime. Nach den Kriterien, die dabei angelegt werden, müssten viele Ehrungen zurückgenommen werden. Mehr