Google – The Next Big Brother?
So, I was perusing the news online today and came across an article on Reuters about yet another new Google service. Google Checkout is the latest tool created by the Internet giant to make your Internet experience better, easier, and most of all safer. Apparently, the Checkout services will remember where you've been and what you've entered so that you won't need to resubmit information over and over again. Really, what is happening is that, similar to PayPal, you are paying Google and Google is paying the merchant. Do you feel safer yet?
From a merchant point of view, the service seriously limits the amount of risk to which they are exposed. Google is actually collecting the payment so if someone tries to use a stolen identity or falsified information, Google provides a buffer. All for the discount price of 2% of each sale plus 20 cents per transaction. These prices are reduced for those that pay for AdWords
According to Google, the service allows the user to:
- Stop creating multiple accounts and passwords - you can quickly and easily buy from stores across the web and track all your orders and shipping in one place.
- Shop with confidence - fraud protection policy covers you against unauthorized purchases made through Google Checkout, and they don't share your purchase history or full credit card number with sellers.
- Control commercial spam - you can keep your email address confidential, and easily turn off unwanted emails from stores where you use Google Checkout.
According to Google, the service allows the seller to:
- Attract more leads - Shoppers who see the Google Checkout™ badge on your AdWords ads will more easily find you when they search.
- Convert more leads into sales - a fast, secure checkout process helps persuade shoppers to buy on your site and buy more often.
- Process sales for free - for every $1 you spend on AdWords, you can process $10 in sales for free. For sales that exceed this amount or if you don't use AdWords, you can process them at a low 2% and $0.20 per transaction.
- Protect yourself from fraud - Our fraud prevention tools stop invalid orders from reaching you. And our Payment Guarantee policy helps protect you from chargebacks.
But this got me thinking. It seems that every week I'm reading about new Google services. What else can the Mega-Information-Giant do? Obviously you can search the Internet. Or news. Or blogs. Or images. Or just about anything you can think of. You can shop with Froogle. You can cyberstalk… ur… I mean find your house with Google Earth. You can get directions and maps. You can organize your life with Google Calendar. You can send emails with G-mail. You can start and participate in groups with Google Groups. You can find, organize, and share your pictures with Picasa. You can talk with or instant message your friends with Google Talk. You can even use Google with your cell phone with Google Mobile and Google SMS (short messenger service). You can mock up your house or the bank you plan on robbing with Google sketch. You can even speed up the Internet with Google Web Accelerator. Or you can save some time and download the Google pack which includes Google Earth, Picasa, Google Pack Screensaver, Google Video Player, Google Desktop, Google Toolbar, Google Talk, and some third party software including Moxilla, Ad-Aware, Adobe Reader, and Norton Antivirus.
Whew! That's a mouthful. Honestly, I'm not sure what all that does but geesh! That seems to be a lot! Honestly, I've never had any problems with any of the handful of Google services I've used. But they do seem to have their hands in a lot of pots. What's next, Google Billboards? Google Medical Records? Google This is your Life? Google has already targeting the US Government with Google U.S. Government Search . They're also apparently coming out with their own spreadsheet program which is meant to be shared over the web.
With the amount of information they have at their disposal and their focus on sharing it over the web, the potential for some sort of catastrophic mishandling is immense. The only real tarnish to their reputation to date is the censorship of their results for the Chinese Government . But therein lies the problem. That seemed to be a purely financial decision. They relaxed their morals saying, "We felt that perhaps we could compromise our principles but provide ultimately more information for the Chinese and be a more effective service and perhaps make more of a difference." A lot of questionable actions could be justified with similar statements. Their motto "Don't be evil" aside, there is a saying about the road to Hell and good intentions.