Google and their X-RAY Goggles

The augmentation of virtual spaces has created social systems whereby spatial, temporal and social barriers are torn down (Bilandzic & Foth 2012, p67). On places like Facebook, users are able to ‘Check-in’ at various places, and status’ are now accompanied with the location of the user at the time of their post. This, whilst opening up new opportunities for the way in which people are able to communicate and interact with one another, both locally and globally, also raises privacy concerns-

Where is this information going??

The topic this week on locative media, relates directly to the decreasing privacy of users when actively participating in online activities. The ability of Facebook Friends to track a friend’s movements both in the virtual and physical world is worrying enough, without the thought of multi-national corporations (MNC’s) gaining access to this information. Google is currently under-fire from the media, under investigation from the U.S. and European Union, and in the process of dealing with various customer lawsuits in regards to their new privacy policy changes. The changes allow Google to track user’s online movements, forming a database of profitable user information. Google has merged 60 separate privacy policies into one, claiming it will ‘provide a simpler and more streamlined experience for users’ (Forden & Voris, 2012). However, it is this information that will allow them to tailor advertisements and Google search results to personal user preferences and in turn provide a more profitable foundation for advertisers, marketers and of course – Google.

These tailored preferences, while allowing a consumer a quicker and easier shopping experience, provides a cause for contention in terms of regulation. How much information is a MNC able to gain without our knowledge? Are civil lawsuits enough to stop the infiltration of public privacy? Do national governments have the power to control MNCs?

N.B.

[The growing concern regarding the regulation of MNC’s in the media, and their use of private user information is one that I will be analysing in my Research Project for BCM310 in relation to the Phone Hacking Scandal involving News of the World and Rebekah Brooks. power of Transnational Media Corporations in accessing private information. Regulating MNCs Transnational Media Corporations is difficult due to the lack of global regulation, their global influence and the fast paced movements of advancing technologies which not even national legal systems seem to be able to keep up with. ]

REFERENCES:

Bilzandic, A & Foth, M 2012, ‘A review of locative media, mobile and embodied spatial interaction’, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, vol.70, pp66-71

Forden, S & Voris, B 2012, ‘Google customers sue over changes to privacy policy rules’, Bloomberg, 1 March, accessed 22/03/2012, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-21/google-customers-sue-over-changes-to-privacy-policy-rules.html


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