Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Germany's looking to pass a new law requring all email service providers to collect and store information on its users. It would also ban anonymous accounts. If the law is passed Google announced that it would no longer offer the country Gmail (called Google Mail over there thanks to a trademark dispute).

One can imagine such a law would be burdensome to Google. Not only is that a lot of data to keep track of, fewer people would be willing to use their services. If not, email in general. Those who travel to Germany and use Gmail (as an avid Gmail user who's undergone some recent globe-hopping, having an email I can access anywhere is a godsend) would also be subject to the law.

But Google doesn't seem as concerned about that (Germany, after all, is still one of the largest economies in Europe). Their global privacy counsel, who announced the possiblity that Gmail won't be in Germany focused on a different reason.
Many users around the globe make use of this anonymity to defend themselves from spam, or government repression of free speech. If the Web community won’t trust us with handling their data with great care, we’ll go down in no time.
Anti-free marketers often point to corporate brands as leading to monopolies and heartless decision-making. This is an example of how brands are quite good: companies will go the extra mile to do the right thing because a hit to their brand is a hit to everything they sell.

1 comment:

Jacob said...

So they'll go the extra mile in Germany, but not in China? How big does the market have to get before "doing the right thing" policies are dropped?

After all, they've already (voluntarily!) censored their search listings in Germany once. Would that make it going an extra half-mile?

These Google PR people really need to get their stories straight.