Is Google Evil?


Is Google Evil?
Is Google Evil?

Is Google Evil?

I’m Getting Discouraged

Writing is a pleasure for me and a need. I have to write to get some things out. There are things I want to say that I believe are important.  I’ve been doing blogging on regular basis for about five years, more on some sites than others.

It is now pretty obvious that Google has penalized me repeatedly and thoroughly. With the changes Google made in 2012 and 2013, I have been reduced from more than a hundred hits a day to my current average (and falling) of 34 hits a day.

So, I’ve been looking at Google and “Search Engine Optimization.” To say the rules are Byzantine would be a dramatic understatement. What’s more Google changes the rules whenever it feels like and in anyway it feels like.

I want to write. I don’t want to spend hours doing SEO. I like to think I have a life, and the implication of having a life is that you are experiencing it and don’t have time for nonsense. I envision the great authors of history trying to navigate through Google and spending hours on SEO. It was only funny the first time.

What’s getting me in trouble? One thing is my lengthy quotes. I like to talk up my friends’ Blogs, Dan Bodine, Steven Mintz and my colleague, Chris MacDonald and many others. I love telling people about new blogs. I write a paragraph introduction, include two or three paragraphs of one of their articles followed by a direct link (usually I link to both the individual post and their full web site). Google considers this duplicate material and penalizes me heavily for it. So, I’m going through my posts, 2,210 of them, trying to get the quotes reduced to “snippets,” which I’m not sure exactly what is, but am assuming it is a sentence or two with a “…” at the end. I’m told a snippet will not draw unfavorable attention.

There appears to be a bunch of other things I do that were okay in 2012, that are Google penalized now. I am trying to learn the rules. I’m pretty upset. After all, you might think that my 2,210 posts would get me some kind of credit in the first place but no, sometimes I don’t stay on topic, my “brand.” When I talk about a favorite movie or mention something that happened or talk about criminal justice (which I teach), their diabolical rating system says “NOT BUSINESS ETHICS.” And I get penalized. So, I’ve been killing posts that aren’t directly on subject.

I can’t help but believe that I want to write about the important issues of the day and instead I’m playing a maniacal time-eating,role-playing game in which the rules make little sense and change while you are trying to play the game.

Is Google Evil?

I hope not. Maybe all this horrible, horrible things they have done is just an aberration and once I work through it, I will get some search results for all my work. I don’t expect to be treated fairly because Google isn’t going to do that, but a little, tiny bit of fairness is not too much to hope for.

James Pilant

From Around the Web.

From Evil Google to WordPress

Google recently revealed the pitch-black nature of its evil heart …

Ireland Tax Haven for American Corporations

[Howth and Ireland's Eye. County Dublin, Irela...
[Howth and Ireland’s Eye. County Dublin, Ireland] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

Ireland Tax Haven for American Corporations

Is it ethical to have a company in the U.S. base a subsidiary in a nation like Ireland to avoid paying taxes here? The company being discussed here is Apple. Do you suppose since they used this tax haven to pay an effective two percent tax on their profits, that perhaps they are not acting responsibly in regard to their duties? Are the roads, bridges and communications systems the company uses free or do they cost tax money? Are educated workers free or do schools have to be financed to educate them? Does the fire department, the police and the military defend Apple and all of its possessions on a charity basis?

It must enhance the profits of a company immensely to sit inside a highly developed nation with elaborate communication hubs, educational systems and complex legal protections and pay virtually nothing for any of it.

Well, if they don’t then who does? I’m sure you can make a guess, my average reader is probably paying a far higher proportion of their income in taxes than the two percent Apple wound up with.

Is that fair? Is it ethical to shirk your responsibilities to your country?

I’ve heard it said that all taxation is a form of theft. That’s an interesting theory. It conveys a certain sense of righteousness in not paying taxes because, after all, you are preventing a robbery. However, I am a great reader of history and i am unable to discover any successful civilization that did not use shared burdens to develop and maintain their nation.

James Pilant

Ireland To End ‘Stateless’ Tax Avoidance Gimmick, Leave Others Untouched

The scheme Noonan wishes to stop became famous this spring when a Senate investigation found that Apple had paid nearly zero taxes on around $100 billion in sales revenue. Apple’s arrangement, which even critics say is a completely legal exploitation of a poorly designed global tax system, relied upon three subsidiaries incorporated in Ireland but not “resident” there for tax purposes. Noonan said Tuesday that his budget proposal would “ensure that Irish-registered companies cannot be ‘stateless’ in terms of their place of tax residency,” adding that “we don’t want to incur any reputational damage.”

While Noonan’s move would end this particular form of tax evasion, a more common form that uses shell companies registered in Ireland will go untouched. A company can still register in Ireland but avoid paying its 12.5 percent corporate tax rate by declaring tax residence in some other country with lower corporate rates, Bloomberg reports. While Apple-style tax statelessness is relatively rare, Irish subsidiaries registering to pay taxes in Bermuda, Luxembourg, and other tax haven countries is not. Google, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, eBay, and Microsoft all use such schemes to avoid taxes by moving global revenues from points of sale to Ireland, and then from Ireland to another tax haven. Ireland’s proposal is therefore “a very small step” and “relevant only to Apple,” former Joint Committee on Taxation chief of staff Edward Kleinbard told Reuters.

From around the web.

From the web site, Venture Beat.

This is a stumper.

The head of the Irish agency designed to promote foreign investment in the country strongly denied that Ireland is a tax haven. But when questioned by Ireland’s RTE News, he could not deny that Apple has paid an effective tax rate of just two percent, much as Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) said yesterday in hearings on Capitol Hill.

Which, frankly, sounds pretty tax haven-ish.

“There is global competition, and tax happens to be one of the areas [where] Ireland competes for global investment,” IDA Ireland Chief Executive Barry O’Leary told RTE this morning.

That also sounds suspiciously like a tax haven. That’s what Senator Levin believes, as well.

“You are able to shift profits to places where you, an American company, don’t pay taxes,” Levin said yesterday to Apple CEO Tim Cook. “That is not right … that a company could shift its value to a tax haven, which is what Ireland is.”


Why Has Google Been Collecting Kids’ Social Security Numbers Under the Guise of an Art Contest (via Huffington Post)

Bob Bowdon has an interesting essay at the Huffington Post.

(from zdnet)

Here’s the opening –

It turns out that the company sporting the motto “don’t be evil” has been asking parents nationwide to disclose their children’s personal information, including Social Security Numbers, and recruiting schools to help them do it — all under the guise of an art contest. It’s called, “Doodle-4-Google,” a rather catchy, kid-friendly name if I do say so myself. The company is even offering prize money to schools to enlist their help with the promotion. Doesn’t it sound like fun?  Don’t you want your kid to enter too?

What could be wrong with filling out a few entry forms?

What’s wrong turns out to be Google wants the last four digits of the child’s Social Security number. It also wants to know the child’s birthplace. With those two pieces of information, working out the whole Social Security number can be done in many cases. Google’s form also contains a waiver that the data can be used as Google sees fit.

Is this ethical?

No. I cannot figure out how having the last four digits of a social security number and a child’s birthplace serves any purpose in a contest. I believe that you can identify with great precision competitors in a contest based on their names, schools and addresses.

Is the purpose here, commercial use of Social Security numbers? I don’t know.

From Bob Bowdon –

In fairness, we have no evidence that Google will use or sell this information for marketing purposes. For that matter, it’s possible they could throw the data away. (Care to guess the odds?) But to be absolutely clear, there’s no evidence Google has done anything with this information at all, nefarious or otherwise.

Exactly. We don’t know. It is possible that this just made sense to the person drawing up the contest. Still, it is a lot of information to ask for and I would’ve thought this thing would have gone through legal before they put it up.

Here’s Bowdon’s closing comments –

So in closing, three simple ideas for you, gentle reader, to take away.  (1) City of birth, when coupled with year of birth, can be correlated to social security numbers, so don’t give it out just because a box appears on a form. (2) No public contest should ask for any part of a social security number, especially involving kids. (3) For internet searches, have you tried Yahoo! or Bing lately? You just might find what you’re looking for.

Net Neutrality and the First Amendment: Observations on the FCC’s order in Preserving the Open Internet (H. Travis) (via Marvin Ammori &)

This is a detailed legal analysis of the FCC order regarding net neutrality. If you have an interest in net neutrality and the legal issues surrounding the order and its aftermath, you have a very fine references source here.

James Pilant

I would like to thank Marvin for inviting me to blog here for a while as part of his merry band of cyber experts.  I teach cyberlaw and other subjects at Florida International University College of Law in Miami, FL.  I typically write about copyright, Internet freedom, and human rights law.   Although my first post will be about net neutrality, I hope in the future to blog on my other interests, including copyright, fair use, the First Amendment, … Read More

via Marvin Ammori &

PB POST | Lawyer Ben-Ezra held in contempt over ‘fraud’ in foreclosure filing (via Foreclosure Fraud – Fighting Foreclosure Fraud by Sharing the Knowledge)

I like this. Too long has the foreclosure industry lived without legal retribution for their crimes. I have argued for months that robo signing and false affidavits were contempt of court. Well, at least one judge agrees with me.

I like this site. If you have the slightest interest in the mortgage crisis, it should be on your favorites.

James PIlant

PB POST | Lawyer Ben-Ezra held in contempt over 'fraud' in foreclosure filing Lawyer held in contempt over ‘fraud’ in foreclosure filing By Kimberly Miller and Christine Stapleton Palm Beach Post Staff Writer A day after federal mortgage giant Fannie Mae fired the prominent law firm of Ben-Ezra & Katz, a Miami judge found the firm’s founding partner, Marc Ben-Ezra, in contempt of court for filing “sham” foreclosure documents and “wasting the court’s time.” On Thursday, Fannie Mae cited document “execution issues” as th … Read More

via Foreclosure Fraud – Fighting Foreclosure Fraud by Sharing the Knowledge

Google Foreclosure Maps–no longer available (via Dregs of the Future)

Take a long last look at accurate maps of the foreclosure crisis. Google says they have low usage. Maybe they just have a high level of influence suggesting a better use of their time. Well, it’s gone. Here’s one more look.

James Pilant

Google Foreclosure Maps--no longer available  Searches for real estate foreclosures on Google Maps are censored no longer possible. Google has announced removal of all real estate listings from their Google Maps platform on February 10th of this year (2011). Google posted this: In part due to low usage, the proliferation of excellent property-search tools on real es … Read More

via Dregs of the Future

Google Investigated

The BBC reports that a European Investigation will be launched over complaints about Google.

EU launches antitrust probe into alleged Google abuses

The European Commission has launched an investigation into Google after other search engines complained that the firm had abused its dominant position.

The EC will examine whether the world’s largest search engine penalised competing services in its results.

The probe follows complaints by firms including price comparison site Foundem and legal search engine

What we are talking about here is search results. You enter a search on Google and ten results come up on the first page. There are often thousands and, on occasion, millions of hits. The order of these hits is vital to web site success. If you are selling something, for instance, like coffee and your search result puts you at 213, you’re not going to sell very much coffee.

Google’s competitors are alleging that the company manipulates its search results to make competitors, well, less competitive. They allege that their place in the hierarchy, say fifteenth in a search, would be seventh if the “real” results were posted.

This is the kind of problem you can expect with a company that controls a very large part of the market and has components that compete with other companies that use the Internet.

James Pilant

Google Faces Inquiry Into Anti-Competitive Practices

From “France 24 International News”

The European Commission has launched a preliminary inquiry into anti-trust allegations against Google brought by three online companies over how the Internet giant’s search engine operates and the way it sells its digital advertising.

The Commission is acting on separate complaints from three companies – the British price comparison site Foundem, French legal search engine eJustice and Ciao! from Bing, a German online retailer that was bought by Microsoft in 2008. The three have alleged that Google’s search engine artificially demotes the results of competitor sites in its rankings and questioned some of the conditions the company includes in its deals with advertisers.

It is unlikely that Google is only doing this in Europe. “Don’t be evil” is Google’s motto but they seem to have reconsidered especially considering their all out assault on net neutrality.

We have anti-trust laws on the books. Couldn’t we use some of them? Perhaps, the European Union could let us cooperate with their investigation?

We as a society lose a lot when one company clobbers another though anti-competitive practices. We pay more but worse than that a monopoly company can diminish the quality of their product and customer service. In the long term, product development and innovation suffer. So remember, it’s not just the money.

James Pilant

A Wrap Up Of Today’s Google-Verizon Deal News

Google and Verizon issue net neutrality proposal.

That’s the news today. After denying there was going to be a deal, Google and Verizon made one. Goodness, you might think corporations could lie with a straight face.

How bad is the “proposal?”

Very bad. Very, very bad. Essentially, if you are a “carrier” and I mean a giant corporate one, you’re going to make a bundle of money. I mean you’re going to have to go to a hardware store and buy snow shovels just to get the small denominations out of the way. (Maybe you’ll burn them for heat?)

If on the other hand you are a consumer, you are going to have a different deal. Now probably at this very moment you are expecting some satirical jab at trying to encompass the amount of money you are going to have to spend, right? Wrong. You and I already know what’s going to happen. A tiered market like they want to establish is just like your cable service. That’s right, you know that cheap service you get in your house, the one that requires you to pay for extra hookups and offers you hundreds of channels most of which no sane human being could subject himself to without a frontal lobotomy, that one.  The cable service which finds new and more interesting ways to charge you for services that used to be free and raise the charges on the ones you get now. That’s the one!

I bet you feel good right now. You look at your monthly hook up for internet and see a bill of what is probably in the neighborhood of fifty dollars but in a few years you could be offered a cornucopia of services (that you used to get for free) running in the hundreds of dollars. But get a load of this, with cable you order stuff you want, with the internet you might have to pay to get sites unblocked. Won’t that be neat? I don’t know what it might be aside from political content, art, films, foreigners (especially news services like Al Jazeera), and a bunch of stuff.

But they’d never censor the internet, right? In 2002, Google censored sites critical of Scientology. Oceana, a non profit advertised against the big cruise lines dumping of sewage, so in February, 2003, Google pulled their ads. I could go on (and on and on). There are a lot of examples of internet censorship, stuff most people would be surprised anybody would want to take off but they do and they have.

Google was once in favor of net neutrality. Apparently, earlier this year they were in favor of neutrality. Guess a dollar sign punched them in the head.

Is Google’s upcoming new service challenge to Facebook part of what’s going on? I’m a little curious about this. If Google is challenging Facebook’s dominance, there is nothing like a little additional purchased web priority, is there?

Google’s public policy blog (where you can go to complain and I recommend you do!) has the details on the result of their secret negotiations with Verizon.

James Pilant

P.S.   A little pep talk.

Well, here we are looking at a mass of money, organization and greed. They intend to take and take and take. Well, you want to give them a fight or what? You want to crawl or beg? You want to hand them your money, one dime at a time until there is nothing left?

Don’t be afraid of these people. They have rationalized away human values for a philosophy of greed.  Human beings astonish and surprise them. We speak a language of morality and honor. They simply do not understand. If it isn’t money or you can’t swap it for money, they don’t believe it’s there. When we talk of duty, they laugh. When we speak of sacrifice, they say, “Yes, you must, ” and give up nothing themselves.

These pawns, these caricatures of living things are passing phenomenon like pharisees and know nothings, royalists and brownshirts. This is their time but it won’t always be there time. They will slink off to the Cayman Islands where they can polish their gold in peace, while we human beings put our country back together and build a place where duty, honor and brotherhood are not jokes.

(Now watch a little film and relax, have a laugh. You may enjoy this. It’s a comedic take on inspirational movies speeches.)

Timeline – Google/Verizon Divide Internet

Google's Customers
October 21st, 2009 Google and Verizon issue joint statement in which they say this – For starters we both think it’s essential that the Internet remains an unrestricted and open platform — where people can access any content (so long as it’s legal), as well as the services and applications of their choice.

January 14th, 2010 Google calls for open internet.

June 22nd, 2010       FCC begins back room negotiations with internet carriers.

August 4th, 2010 New York Times reports Google and Verizon near secret deal to undermine net neutrality.

August 5th, 2010 FCC abandons talks on net neutrality.

August 5th, 2010
Verizon issues following statement – The NYT article regarding conversations between Google and Verizon is mistaken. It fundamentally misunderstands our purpose. As we said in our earlier FCC filing, our goal is an Internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect. Translation – we’re not making a deal.

August 5th, 2010 Google denies deal to end net neutrality.

August 9th, 2010 Verizon and Google announce a “proposal.” This is apparently strikingly different from a deal, because a deal would imply profits of billions of dollars. You see, a proposal only “implies” profits of billions of dollars. Got it?

What are the results of this deal? Let me quote Craig Aaron The deal would allow ISPs to effectively split the Internet into “two pipes” — one of which would be reserved for “managed services,” a pay-for-pay platform for content and applications. This is the proverbial toll road on the information superhighway, a fast lane reserved for the select few, while the rest of us are stuck on the cyber-equivalent of a winding dirt road.

What do you think?

James Pilant