Perhaps you’ve noticed that privacy has been getting repeated coverage here, lately. Whether it’s about the US Congress trying to pass new data privacy laws, the US Supreme Court protecting employer rights, or even something as superfluous as ChatRouletteMap, privacy has been on my mind, and of course the way it affects your business and the changes you’re trying to make to keep your business vibrant are effected by how you handle privacy.
Our friends at Google, a company that’s long been playing both sides of the privacy game, have a new tactic: Google has set up a page that shows a map with details about their data and privacy communications with governments.
The level of detail is impressive. And since government transparency is legally guaranteed here in the USA I’m a big fan of the information also being made available in such an easy-to-access-and-digest way.
And of course it’s not really very useful.
So Google, in showing this information in the way it is, is really just doing so because it can. In essence, they”re thumbing their noses at the man. Like a child would. Not entirely surprising given Google’s recent whiny attempt to get US government help with their issues in China, but . . . really, Google?
Lawyers will often tell their clients to be quiet about pending issues; the less information that is “out there”, the better you are. My opinion is the opposite: privacy issues notwithstanding you’re often better off being transparent than secretive. Google plays it both ways. And this is where the issues they’re starting to have come from.
Managing business change is a challenge on a good day. And the more successful you become the harder business change management becomes. But until you become a business with the power and influence of a Google it’s almost never going to be a good idea to play issues “both ways”. Decide what your policy will be on privacy, disclosures, and the way to speak, and stick to it.