Regulate Google?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Jeff Jarvis, writer of the blog, professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York and author of What Would Google Do?, and Siva Vaidhyanathan, associate professor of media studies and law at the University of Virginia and the man behind The Googlization of Everything, discuss whether Google is getting too big, and should be regulated as a public utility.


Jeff Jarvis and Siva Vaidhyanathan

Comments [23]

Jordan from New York

We keep learning that monocultures don't work. Whether it be agriculture, finance, energy or human culture, we've seen over and over that monocultures are more vulnerable and get sick more often and with greater force. Google, Microsoft and computing in general are no different. I don't know if regulating Google is the answer, but we do need to ensure a diversity of competition and culture in computing if we want to avoid a massive vulnerability.

Jul. 08 2009 11:56 AM
KC from NYC

hjs: Yeah, sorry to be snarky. But (as Brian alluded to in his initial question), regulation doesn't necessarily mean massive takeover. If Google really is so revolutionary, surely existing business regulations should be revised to deal with these new information-gathering behemoths? Or maybe not, I certainly don't know. But it's a decent question, I think.

[I would blame a lot of Democrats for the banking regulation fiasco, too...but thankfully Matt Taibbi is writing on that stuff, so I don't have to.]

Jul. 08 2009 11:38 AM
KC from NYC

Oh honestly, Jarvis. They put a little subtitle on their logo that says "don't be evil," your read it, and assume that alone guarantees their business practices are good? Really? That's like some kind of anti-investigative journalism right there.

Jul. 08 2009 11:32 AM
Moshe Feder from Flushing, NY

Like Brian, I use Google constantly. So I'd like to be an uncritical fan, but I do fear that Google has reached the point of being so big that it's free to be dangerously arbitrary. It can do a lot of harm simply by choosing to ignore you.

Look, for example, at the impossibility of providing Google with corrections to Google Maps. They've just chosen not to be bothered. I don't understand why they don't want to take help freely offered, but a quick Google search will show you that many, many people have been frustrated and angered by Google's deliberate deafness to correction -- or is it reluctance to admit error? This is a bad omen.

Google becoming a Kafkaesque impenetrable and unaccountable bureaucracy? Isn't that a nightmare in the making?

Jul. 08 2009 11:31 AM
hjs from 11211

good point BUT there WAS regulation for the banks,but the GOP & bush were looking the other way!!

Jul. 08 2009 11:30 AM

China's privacy violations deserve special attention from google? This guy is talking out of his @@s -- get out of your office buddy -- for the first time I agree with Mr. Buzzmachine. Jesus.

Jul. 08 2009 11:28 AM
KC from NYC

hjs: yes. That worked perfectly with the banks...

Jul. 08 2009 11:25 AM
c j

Firefox has been gaining ground on Microsoft's IE, while google's browser is barely used.

With a google OS, what's going to happen to alternative browsers like Firefox?

Jul. 08 2009 11:24 AM
hjs from 11211

shouldn't we wait for a problem before the government is asked to come in?

Jul. 08 2009 11:23 AM
Alan from Manhattan

There's in case you want to support a Microsoft tentacle, and good ol' Yahoo as well.

Jul. 08 2009 11:23 AM
KC from NYC

Jarvis, enough with the straw men. If you don't have a good counter-argument, don't pretend Vaidhyanathan is making arguments he isn't.

Interestingly, Jarvis wrote his Google book without visiting Google's facilities or learning much about how the business actually works. Is that good reporting? Much like Neoconservatism embraces theories over reality, so Jarvis' techno-boosterism studiously avoids messy reality in favor of clean theory.

Jul. 08 2009 11:20 AM
Alan from Manhattan

Oh, also tell that Jeff fellow Google Chrome is a browser, not an OS. It still runs on Windows (and is being ported to Linux & OS X).

Jul. 08 2009 11:19 AM
bob.suter from huntington

one problem with google is its advertising-dependent profit model. in fact, google sells advertisers the ability to make their web sites appear more prominently in google web searches. talk about "pay to play."

google needs competition. there are alternatives such as

Jul. 08 2009 11:17 AM
Alan from Manhattan

Typo above: I mean to say " a regulatory process controlling its results would mean they'd somehow be tailored to powerful lobbying interests."

Jul. 08 2009 11:16 AM
c j

Google Plans a PC Operating System

Jul. 08 2009 11:14 AM
fuva from Harlem, NY

Please, someone recommend OTHER RELIABLE SEARCH ENGINES. Seriously. Consumers need to drive diversification...

Jul. 08 2009 11:14 AM
Alan from Manhattan

Regulating Google as a utility would probably kill its usefulness— right now, it makes its money by being pretty useful to folks and thus sucking in eyeballs; a regulatory process controlling its results would mean they'd somehow be tailored to public interests.

The real area where regulation is needed, and not just for Google, is accumulation of private information. They make their money as one of the biggest advertising companies out there, and thus they have a big incentive to do questionable things with all the data they can gather on most of your internet surfing, considering they have ad content on a healthy percentage of the websites out there. I don't want Google (or anyone else) knowing everything about me.

That's also why I (and friends I have that work for Google) don't use GMail. It doesn't cost money to use it; the real price is that Google ad systems are reading all of your email.

Jul. 08 2009 11:12 AM
the truth from bkny

Print is dying...recycling and online access is what's killing them.

Jul. 08 2009 10:52 AM
the truth from bkny

Absolutely not, do not regulate Google. Maybe Microsoft will bring their prices within reason with a little competition on their heels.

Now if we could just strike that fear into the cable people.

Jul. 08 2009 10:51 AM
Tony from San Jose, CA

I agree that network neutrality is the biggest threat to an open, free, and innovating internet. But congress is filled with moronic and/or corrupt people...

Jul. 08 2009 10:42 AM
hjs from 11211

we should be talking about network neutrality not any one company.

Jul. 08 2009 10:21 AM
Brian from Weehawken, NJ

I thought we've just learned that once a corporation becomes so big, its too big to fail and beyond regulation...

Jul. 08 2009 10:13 AM
David Rakowski from Allentown, PA

Please ask Jeff (who teaches journalism at CUNY) what he thinks about Mayor Bloomberg's new "MediaNYC2020" program, and whether he thinks such programs are necessary.


Dave Rakowski
Allentown, PA

Jul. 08 2009 07:37 AM

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