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    Is Google Above the Law? A Look at the Crumbling Morality of the Tech Giant

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    The case of British bag packer Grace Millane, who was killed during a 2018 trip to New Zealand, has by a twist of fate put Google's conduct under the international spotlight, becoming the latest in a series of controversies the company had been engaged in recently.

    New Zealand's Justice Minister Andrew Little has accused Google of 'Flipping the Bird' as the tech giant failed to deliver on its assurances to the island nation to deal with the suppression breach issue in regard to the Grace Millane case.

    In 2018, the company emailed the name of the man charged with murder of Millane to thousands of subscribers despite it violating New Zealand name suppression law. The follow-up meetings with the country’s officials haven’t borne fruit as the company eventually failed to make changes, only saying that the case was highly publicised by media.

    Sputnik is recalling the most recent controversies when the morality of the US firm has been called into question by the public and governments.

    Altering Search Results

    Just yesterday it was confirmed that Google was altering search results connected with the Parkland Shooting. The first page of Google results was flooded with pages of unrelated content, while other search engines were offering relevant links. The information that was shown on Google was often not relevant to the phrase entered into the search bar and actively directed users towards established news sources rather than the specific terms people wanted to explore.

    A woman consoles another as parents wait for news regarding a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
    © AP Photo / Joel Auerbach
    A woman consoles another as parents wait for news regarding a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.

    Project Maven

    Despite protests from its own staff and an announcement in 2018 that it would not renew its controversial military contract with the Pentagon, Google recently revealed that an unnamed company would take over the contract using an off-the-shelf version of Google Cloud Platform. As such Google would continue to profit from the use of its A.I. software in developing Drone technology for the US Government.

     

     

    Manipulating Consumers

    In May of 2012, Google announced that they will no longer enforce a separation between search results and advertising. This also extends to Google directing consumers to their own services over those of competitors, specifically in regards to Froogle. A Google powered price comparison search which often directed users to companies who had paid for higher placement on Google’s search engine or were directly owned by Google’s parent company: Alphabet Co. Subsequentely the tech giant got €2.4 billion fine for breaching EU antitrust rules in 2017.

    Profiting From Crowd Sourced Material

    From its inception, Google has been criticised for crowd sourcing work from its vast user base and then claiming commercial ownership of it without returning any contributions back to the contributors. This is especially true with Google’s incredibly comprehensive Map Maker software. Beyond this their restrictive license makes it incompatible with most open source projects and prevents commercial use.

    The Selfish Ledger

    In 2016, a video was circulated among Google employees titled: “The Selfish Ledger,” the video depicts a future in which Google doesn’t just collect user data. Instead it would use that data with the ultimate goal of controlling and manipulating it’s users behavior. When pressed for comment, Google claimed that the video was purely theoretical and not something that would be put to practice.

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