Beware the Ides of #Google

MP900444301You didn’t think all that free stuff was free, did you?  Sure…multi-billion-dollar conglomerates give you all kinds of tools and want nothing in return.  No, like with most loss-leaders, they lure you through the door at a bargain, make you comfortable, then make it up elsewhere; such as by mining your data.

Beginning March 1st, 2012, Google will be using a bigger shovel.  That’s when they implement their new privacy policy.  Funny…it should probably be deemed a ‘lack-of-privacy’ policy.  Essentially it allows them to mine your data over most of their products in order to create a better profile of you; ostensibly for your benefit, but really, for theirs.

Here’s the deal.  I think most people, including me, are fine with giving up something in order to receive something.  I know that Google mines data, so I tweak my privacy settings to the maximum protection level and also bypass gmail, calendar and contacts sync for my Droid (I do the same with Yahoo and any other site that wants me to upload my contact and calendar information).  Why?  Because I know that Google, et al, wants to get their hands on it!

But, where it’s a problem is for all of the people who have absolutely no concept of what they’re actually giving up.  That means, you, attorneys!  This is the problem with the cloud.  If attorneys store their data – and that of their clients – in the cloud without understanding that its being mined, they’ve already violated their ethical duties in most jurisdictions.

We attorneys call it informed consent.  The problem is, it’s the attorneys who have to inform themselves – and their clients – before they may reasonably consent.

These free services are coming with more and more strings attached (e.g., users who are forced onto Facebook Timeline know what I’m talking about).  The benefits are gradually shifting from the end-user to the provider.  Naturally, we always have a choice; conform or be cast out (thank you, Rush…).

As many of you know, I don’t have a Facebook account.  A while back, when 200 million people were using the service, they seemed unusual.  Now that 800+ million are using it, I seem unusual!  Peer pressure is a bitch, but I was never one to run with the crowd, anyway.

Be cool or be cast out…