When does a search engine become an Internet bully? Maybe sooner than we would care to think.
Yesterday, the web was buzzing with commentary about Google CEO Eric Schmidt's dangerous, dismissive response to concerns about search engine users' privacy. When asked during an interview for CNBC's recent "Inside the Mind of Google" special about whether users should be sharing information with Google as if it were a "trusted friend," Schmidt responded, "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." (emphasis added)
The search engine, Google docs, email, ad infinitum giant made the decision to encrypt searches back in October 2011. In the last couple of months, however, Google has apparently increased the number of searches they encrypt by over 50% according to the site http://www.notprovidedcount.com/. Because the searches are encrypted, search terms that are normally passed along to publishers after someone clicks on their links at Google get withheld and in Google Analytics are replaced with a “Not Provided” indicator.
This is major obstacle for third party tools that have been developed to use Google's APIs and algorithms. Although the data is still available in Google's AdWords tools, this adds another step in the process of search optimization and further extends Google's control and access restrictions over data previously made publicly available. As a good capitalist I should probably be supporting Google's right to use data provided by customers in exchange for the massive amount of resources Google expends on search engine development.
The Libertarian in me suspects that Google is shoring up its AdWords system and increasing revenues at the expense of the people who have been avid, if not rabid, supporters in the past.