[LINK] Google Don't Be Evil (Re: Google Secret Privacy Document Leaked)

thoughtmaybe.com community at thoughtmaybe.com
Wed Aug 11 14:59:29 AEST 2010

This is interesting Roger.

Google loves to repeatedly state that it's motto, philosophy or 'guideline' 
is "Don't Be Evil" in some way or another. You've linked to their 'corporate 
principles' webpage and their investment 'code of conduct' page which shows 
this. I've even got some footage somewhere of Marrisa Mayer -- the young, 
blonde, Google Vice President -- explaining the story of how she thinks 
"Don't Be Evil" became the 'company motto'. One of the founders, Sergey 
Brin, also explained the same on camera, embracing the "Don't Be Evil" 
motto, if my memory serves me well and obviously there's been numerous other 
interviews and quotes pertaining to this from these and other executives in 
the press and elsewhere too...

So while you make an excellent point that "Google is emphatically not built 
on the normative statement that 'the company should not do evil'", but 
rather "vague and completely non-binding" variants of "Don't Be Evil", 
hasn't Google still made those vague and completely non-binding statements? 
And yes, I know, even though they may embrace these PR opportunities to 
ramble on and on about what it potentially means for them and their 
business, those statements doesn't constitute an "official" anything. But 
anyway, since when is an official motto binding? It's a completely trivial 
but necessary and powerful component of branding isn't it? It's by design to 
be vague and completely non-binding.

So what about the 'codes of conduct' or a statement of 'corporate 
principles' then? Well, yes, these don't mean shit and still certainly don't 
hold anyone accountable either. Even holding corporations accountable by 
*laws* seems hard enough.

But getting back on track -- I don't understand why you say there is a 
falsehood about Google having a motto about 'Don't be evil', when they 
clearly love to say that there is and even attempt to use it to their 
benefit, which is obviously in reality to their own detriment.

Surely it would be fair to say that the Google motto *is* "Don't Be Evil" 
since they repeatedly say so themselves?


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Roger Clarke" <Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au>
To: "privacy" <privacy at lists.efa.org.au>; <link at mailman1.anu.edu.au>
Sent: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 8:17 AM
Subject: [LINK] Google Secret Privacy Document Leaked

> >Google Agonizes on Privacy as Ad World Vaults Ahead
>>The Wall Street Journal
> [This is easily the worst article I've read in the WSJ for a long time.
> [It's a meandering, waffley review of a dated document, and far more
> like an advertorial than a respectable paper should ever publish.
> [And it perpetuates the falsehood about Google having a motto about
> 'Don't be evil'.  See:
> http://www.rogerclarke.com/II/Gurgle0604.html#Conc (2006)
> "An examination of Google's alleged motto is instructive. Google is
> emphatically not built on the normative statement that 'the company
> should not do evil'. Two variants are evident on the web-site. One is
> merely as number 6 of 'Ten things Google has found to be true' [1],
> and the statement is actually descriptive, not normative: "you can
> make money without doing evil". The other variant is the statement
> "Our informal corporate motto is `Don't be evil'". This is vague and
> completely non-binding. It appears as part of a so-called `Code of
> Conduct' which, firstly, appears in the `investor' part of Google's
> web-site [2] rather than being communicated to customers, and,
> secondly, omits any form of protection for the company's users. (The
> Code arguably provides far more protection for cats than for users,
> in that para. IIe flippantly warns them off Google Inc. premises)."
> [1] http://www.google.com/corporate/tenthings.html
> [2] http://investor.google.com/corporate/code-of-conduct.html
> -- 
> Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/
> Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
>                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
> mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/
> Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
> Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University 

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