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Censorship Google The Internet The Media Businesses

Google Blacklists CNet Reporters 377

Posted by Zonk
from the no-talkie dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Cnet News.com is reporting that Google is no longer talking to Cnet reporters. In an article about the search company looking for new executive chefs, the article states: 'Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with CNET News.com reporters until July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised by a previous story.' Apparently, Google was angered by an article published earlier by Cnet where all sorts of personal information about Google CEO Eric Schmidt was included. The information was obtained from Google searches."
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Google Blacklists CNet Reporters

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  • by kekec (901056) on Friday August 05, 2005 @08:56AM (#13248589) Homepage
    Schmidt, 50, was worth an estimated $1.5 billion last year. Earlier this year, he pulled in almost $90 million from sales of Google stock and made at least another $50 million selling shares in the past two months as the stock leaped to more than $300 a share
  • by TurdTapper (608491) <seldonsplan AT gmail DOT com> on Friday August 05, 2005 @08:56AM (#13248590) Journal
    All that article really did was prove how powerful Google really is. They should use it as a marketing tool.
    "Google, so powerful you can find information about ANYBODY!"
  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Friday August 05, 2005 @08:56AM (#13248591) Homepage
    If the author's point was to show how Google can be used to invade privacy, I'm not sure why Google would throw a hissy fit.

    Are they saying you shouldn't use Google to invade privacy? If so, don't allow it in the first place.

    Or is he just afraid people will learn he likes Elton John.
  • by stinerman (812158) <nathan@stine.gmail@com> on Friday August 05, 2005 @08:56AM (#13248592) Homepage
    Google was angered by an article published earlier by Cnet where all sorts of personal information about Google CEO Eric Schmidt was included.

    You put it on the Internet and its fair game.

    Of course, there is a lot of our information on the Internet that we didn't put there, which is why we need better laws regarding dissemination of personal information.
    • Putting it on the internet is, in fact, fair game, but CNET including it in a published work that would disseminate over a large population is pretty clearly well outside an accepted code of conduct for any respecting 'news agency.' Tho, I don't suppose many consider CNET more than half assed journalism hacks.
      • I agree that posting the actual information was over the top (they could have just said we found out x, y, and z off a google search), and Google is well within their rights to refuse interviews to anyone, but I think they're blowing the whole deal out of proportion.

        And yes, CNET isn't exactly the gold standard in journalism.
    • Slashdot is speculating as to the reason Google don't want to talk to CNet - but they offer no proof. Yes the article mentions Eric Schmidt, but it says a lot of other things as well, which is more likely to have annoyed them.

      But it is a dangerous way to be heading, trying to bully news people into submission.

      But then they started doing evil with Google Groups 2
    • by sg3000 (87992) * <.sg_public. .at. .mac.com.> on Friday August 05, 2005 @09:39AM (#13248921)
      > You put it on the Internet and its fair game.

      And what if I didn't put it on the Internet? What if it was just email?

      What if, during the public comments period, I wrote a letter to the DOJ years ago regarding the suit against a large software company who was later found guilty of illegally abusing their monopoly. And the DOJ put all the comments on the Internet and now when someone Google's my name, it comes up. The company I now work for recently became a strategic partner with that very company, which could make things uncomfortable.

      What if I gave money to a politician running for president, and as part of a fundraiser, my name was attached with another two dozen people to an invitation. Then someone not associated with the campaign spammed a mailing list with that invitation, and it was posted on a public site as an example of spamming. Now when you Google my name, my name shows up as supporting that candidate. Not to mention looking in places like opensecrets.org.

      Why does this matter now? Well, if I start applying for jobs, one can quickly find quite a bit about in the 20 seconds it takes to Google my name. And some employers (even just a rogue HR person) may have a problem with supporting particular candidates or saying something negative about a powerful company.

      And we're seeing a worse trend. Earlier this year, the Bush administration, as many may recall, banned Kerry supporters from attending a non-partisian worldwide telecommunications forum:
      The Inter-American Telecommunication Commission meets three times a year in various cities across the Americas to discuss such dry but important issues as telecommunications standards and spectrum regulations. But for this week's meeting in Guatemala City, politics has barged onto the agenda. At least four of the two dozen or so U.S. delegates selected for the meeting, sources tell TIME, have been bumped by the White House because they supported John Kerry's 2004 campaign. The State Department has traditionally put together a list of industry representatives for these meetings, and anyone in the U.S. telecom industry who had the requisite expertise and wanted to go was generally given a slot, say past participants.
      Only after the start of Bush's second term did a political litmus test emerge, industry sources say.

      So, like in Russia years ago and in other countries, we can quickly move to the point where not having the "right" political beliefs (that is, not sharing the beliefs of whoever is in power) will result in losing your livelihood. As a result, people will stop expressing their political beliefs. And there are many powerful people who would love that to happen.
      • What if, during the public comments period, I wrote a letter to the DOJ years ago regarding the suit against a large software company who was later found guilty of illegally abusing their monopoly. And the DOJ put all the comments on the Internet and now when someone Google's my name, it comes up. The company I now work for recently became a strategic partner with that very company, which could make things uncomfortable.

        You gave information to the government, you should expect that it would be part of publi
      • by Gruneun (261463) on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:10PM (#13251170)
        And what if I didn't put it on the Internet? What if it was just email?

        Um, you do realize that email goes... through... the... Internet, right?
  • by mrRay720 (874710) on Friday August 05, 2005 @08:57AM (#13248596)
    Anything involving the reduction of scope for C/Z/net to grow is good. Rarely in my life have I ever come across such a poor source of information.

    Seriously, what the hell are they actually good for? Biased reviews, news available elsewhere, and alleged 'gurus' writing columns that are either blindingly obvious or hilariously incorrect.

    If I were Mr. Google, I'd refuse to talk to them purely because they're rubbish, never mind any previous articles and privacy concerns.
  • Only two balls, but Right to Privacy and Freedom of Speech are awfully hard to juggle..
  • Why not just promote from within the company? Is the food really that bad?
  • by Mattygfunk1 (596840) on Friday August 05, 2005 @09:01AM (#13248616)

    Yeah Drew Barrymore won't speak to me either despite all the flowers, postcards, and pictures I send.

    Seriously. When did anyone have an obligation to do an interview?

    __
    168+ New Funny Clips Added [laughdaily.com]
    • *looking ovr the flowers*
      It's ok, we giggle about them whenever they come!
    • Re:Pick and choose (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TorKlingberg (599697)
      Seriously. When did anyone have an obligation to do an interview?
      Of course they don't. If they did have such an obligation, this would be a court case and not just a /. discussion.

      Still, I consider it a problem when large corporations use their power to control what the media writes.

  • by Percent Man (756972) on Friday August 05, 2005 @09:01AM (#13248622) Homepage
    Okay, we all enjoy the self-righteous feeling of anger we get when we see the little man with his mouth taped over. But this doesn't qualify as "censorship" - it's a business decision taken by a publicly-held company, not Big Brother cracking down on what you can or cannot say.

    The government telling you you're not allowed to say certain things, under penalty of law: censorship.
    A company deciding it's not going to do business with another (in this case, a press) company: not censorship.
    • Okay, we all enjoy the self-righteous feeling of anger we get when we see the little man with his mouth taped over.

      Whoa. For a second there I was trying to figure out why you would get angry at safe-sex porn... until I realized it's been a long time since I had images turned on for the front page articles.

    • It isn't, but that's a simplistic understanding that seems to be beyond many. Google can do what it wants - no harm, no foul here.
    • by aeoo (568706) on Friday August 05, 2005 @11:51AM (#13250435) Journal
      In reality we are governed far more by economical considerations than by political considerations. It stands to reason that to the extent that economy governs our lives, it should be democratized.

      Considering that the government is slowly moving into irrelevance and that the coprs are fast becoming like local kings and dukes, the actions they make become less and less like those of private individuals and more and more like those of governments (and I am including monarchy and fascism as types of government).

      So, it's not a big stretch to call "censorship" what some corps do with the information. This is particularly true of news media.
    • Censorship does not have to come from the government. It can come from anybody. A corporation can censor its employees--I, for example, am forbidden from making any comment about the inner workings of my employer to any news agency, lest I lose my job. That is censorship.

      It's nit-picking, but it's an important word and it's important to know that not only the government can censor. Google, however, is only censoring its own employees against talking to C|Net. They are not censoring C|Net itself, who is
  • by beavis88 (25983) on Friday August 05, 2005 @09:04AM (#13248636)
    Well, the end of Google as a "do no evil" company, anyway. With that many damn cooks in the kitchen, it's only a matter of time (IMNSHO) before someone spoils the recipe.
    • Huh? Why? Because they decided not to talk to CNet anymore? Tough for CNet, but there's no legal or even moral obligation for them to do so.

      Whether it's justified or not is another matter, but I think you're blowing the issue a bit out of proportion if you proclaim that this is the end of them being (or trying to be) the "good" guys.
      • Most companies would respond by removing Cnet from their search results and taking them to court. Cnet, run-of-the-mill crud reporters that they are don't deserve to talk to Google.

      • Google currently has a wildly-inflated stock price that's in large part been supported by a fawning press. Therefore severe discipline of the press is called for when it doesn't fawn, in order to maintain and build further the unrealistic market valuation that will allow CEO Schmidt to increase his personal wealth beyond a mere 1.5 billion.

        The other stockholders also depend on Google to "earn" them more by manipulating the press. Thus it would be a breach of Google's fiduciary responsibility to fail to do s
        • Google currently has a wildly-inflated stock price that's in large part been supported by a fawning press. Therefore severe discipline of the press is called for when it doesn't fawn, in order to maintain and build further the unrealistic market valuation that will allow CEO Schmidt to increase his personal wealth beyond a mere 1.5 billion.

          Spot on! All the other posters missed this, which is very likely the true cause of the hissy fit. For some reason Google can do no wrong, you see, because ... because ..

    • Well, the end of Google as a "do no evil" company, anyway. With that many damn cooks in the kitchen, it's only a matter of time (IMNSHO) before someone spoils the recipe.

      I'm not convinced. The information they note as being "collected" by Google has not yet been shown to be being used for any purpose other than personalising or improving ones services, or targetted advertising (which, in the latter case, the more sensitive information like email is only processed by machine, and not accessible to employ

  • by sehryan (412731) on Friday August 05, 2005 @09:06AM (#13248648)
    "In ar article about the search company looking for new executive chefs..."

    So I guess Google is branching out into the food business?
  • by Halo- (175936) on Friday August 05, 2005 @09:07AM (#13248652)
    I have to say I side with Google on this one. Google simply indexes information. It's not possible (or desirable) for them to filter and screen the content of what they index.

    Yes, you can use Google to track down a distressing amount of personal information about some people, but this is a function of the information being made available by third parties. Google just makes it easier to find all these sources quickly.

    People that gripe about (or sue) Google based on their indexing "bad" things, need to step back and think of the Web as more of a library, with each page as a book. Google serves as a card catalog, helping you find the books that have the information you are interested in. If somebody goes to the library and looks up a bunch of personal information on you (which is possible, just slower) you don't get mad at the makers of the card catalog. Your anger should be directed first at the person who singled you out. Next, if the books contain something which shouldn't be public (unlike major stock sales, and other things from the article, which should be public) you ought to take it up with the author/publisher of the books.

    cNet took a cheap shot at Google, and did it in a fairly childish way. The point they were trying to make is both obvious, and better made in a more mature fashion. That being said, I don't exactly think Google's response is "mature", but if they want to respond in kind, I don't blame them.

  • by HalfFlat (121672) on Friday August 05, 2005 @09:12AM (#13248687)

    There are a great number of things one can do, that are not necessarily what one should do. There are even many both easy and legal things one can do that are ethically reprehensible.

    I see no hypocrisy in Google's actions. Why deal with a group of people who have demonstrated they have no scruples?

    • What did Cnet do that proved they had no scruples? They reported on the potential privacy risks of google, and for an example used basically harmless facts from someone who has the power to change the behaviour of google.

      I think that is the most responsible way to do it.
  • No one has any obligation to talk with any member of the press, period. Press freedom does not encompass compelling people to answer questions.

    Linking an alleged breach of privacy to this is, obviously, ironic. But that's not the point.
    • "No one has any obligation to talk with any member of the press, period."

      Maybe with one notable exeption: governments. If governments would start to favor certain newspapers and blacklisting others, it would be highly inappropriate.
      • >>"No one has any obligation to talk with any member of the
        >> press, period."

        > Maybe with one notable exeption: governments. If governments
        > would start to favor certain newspapers and blacklisting others,
        > it would be highly inappropriate.

        A second notable exception: public corporations. It is the nature of a publicly traded corporation to have full-disclosure to shareholders and potential shareholders. And since it is impossible for a company to share information with millions of share
    • It *is* the point. Yeah, no one is going to point a gun at Google execs and force them to interview, but no one is claiming that.

      The point is, Google is throwing a hissy-fit after someone demonstrated how their own service "invaded" their CEO's privacy. It's an excellent article, and an excellent example. Google is being completely asinine about it, which is very amusing.
  • by SirSlud (67381)
    Many times the wealth of a politician, and with none of that fussy public accountability crap!

    Seriously, whats the problem here? Hell, google.ca is a public company. This is a pure hissy fit, nothing more, nothing less. Another good example of the transformation from cool, private R&D firm to huge money making public bohemouth.
  • Real Reason for Ban? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IEEEmember (610961) on Friday August 05, 2005 @09:20AM (#13248739) Journal

    Despite the CNET's claim of being banned for release of personal information (or perhaps even Google's claim) I wonder if the ban wasn't instituted more for how the other information in the article was presented.

    1. The personal information wasn't that personal (stock filings, appearance at Burning Man and wife's name).
    2. The tone of the article is almost fear mongering as it focuses on the privacy issues surrounding Google services and not simply search.
    3. Both a sidebar and large print quotes were used to highlight the danger with none of the mitigating text found in the article given such prominent treatment.
    4. The correction implies that the original article had some significantly incorrect information damaging to Google.
  • I will never talk to you again if you break your word, steel from me, publicly insult me or prove to be disloyal. It is never a good idea to insult someone if you want to talk to them, which Cnet now learned...
  • by suzerain (245705) on Friday August 05, 2005 @09:23AM (#13248754) Homepage

    ...uh...they didn't really list anything 'personal' about the CEO at all. He lives somewhere, he makes money, he attended a political fundraiser. None of that is particularly private information, unless my expectations of 'privacy' are really skewed.

    So, I guess Google is really being the asshole here.

    The thing that the article is pointing out -- rightly -- is that Google appears to be on the road toward becoming a major information clearinghouse. And the information is, rather than most similar things, information about everything. They have manifested a desire to aggregate this knowledge and use it in certain ways (i.e., targeted ads by reading the content of your email), and for now they are behaving as a 'good netizen'.

    The thing is, as soon as these two idealistic PhD guys get fed up and cash in and decide to buy an island in the South Pacific and go live there, I fear that so will go Google's ethos of being the good guy, and the marketing weasels and fucking lawyers schmucks will pervert Google amazing technology to do some Seriously Evil Shit (tm).

    It's really just a matter of time...

    • Excellent Article, it explains clearly why we should care about what google is doing, and the privacy/legal risks to the users.

      It is also clear about google following their own "do no evil" policy in the past. But now after their IPO they have a duty to maximize shareholder value.
      For the next few years I think the management will continue to stick to ethical behaviour, but there are no guarantees.
      • Re:RTA - It's good (Score:4, Insightful)

        by z4ce (67861) on Friday August 05, 2005 @11:23AM (#13250121)
        Have you read their IPO filing with SEC? They specifically state following 'do no evil' will lead to long term gains. They will not be influenced by near-term shareholder value.

        So not only do they plan on doing no evil in search, they also plan on doing no evil financially (i.e. maximizing current profit over long term). Certainly, it would NOT maximize shareholder value in the long run to 'do evil'.

        The most successful companies in history have had similiar policies. For example, Wal-Mart has always advocated continually dropping prices, regardless of current profit maximization. In the long term, this maximizes profits by keeping their market penetration and fostering a culture of cost-cutting.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday August 05, 2005 @09:39AM (#13248924) Homepage
    There are positives and negatives regarding Google's detail and completeness. While the medicine given to Google by CNet wasn't very tasty, Google should be more mature about this than that. CNet did what news organizations are known to do... create the news. In this case, they went after the crystal clear jewel of the internet, Google and used its own power against it.

    This is yet another of those situations where responding mildly or not at all would have been the best way to handle this -- it's embarassment -- the more you fight it, the worse it becomes. The quicker you leave it in the past, the quicker it is forgotten.
  • If this works on the White House press core, it will work on C|Net -- unfortuneatly. While C|Net is in dire need of a smack up side the head, and this will do nothing but help Google's cool factor -- it may become too useful a tool for companies like Google (and admit it Apple Computers), to train media companies.

    It sounds like C|Net was out of line -- but I would prefer a lawsuit over blacklisting. Google has the power to do it, being the most interesting tech company as of late. Wired is now going to get
  • Microsoft has far more access to personal information than google. Hotmail for example has 100x as many users as gmail (close to 200 million at last count).

    Type in a bogus website? Microsoft knows. Look up a word to be translated in Office 2003? Microsoft knows. Windows XP, Office 2003, Visual Studio, Encarta etc are all closely linked to the web services. With Microsoft Live Meeting they could know all about your business meetings as it is hosted offsite.

    If one wanted to be paranoid (like the author of tha

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