Research Methods Proposal - Google

Intermediate Diploma Thesis, 2009

19 Pages, Grade: 2,1


Glossary of terms

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Purpose of the Project.

The purpose of the Project is to clearify the criticism surrounding Google privacy law issues and to inves- tigate Google‘s behaviour towards its users critically in relation to the European Data Protection Act of 12 July, 2000 and to the United States Safe Harbor Act of July, 2002 (among other laws, such as Human Rights Acts). Furthermore the purpose is to find out which data Google collects and to identify reasons why Google is, despite criticism, so popular and to analyse the customer awareness and behaviour of Google users as well as to give recommendations for Google‘s customers to protect their data.

Research Question or Hypothesis:

To what extent are Google users aware of the criticisms surrounding Google privacy law issues and to what extent are those criticisms valid?

Objectives (A maximum of 5):

1. Identification of reasons why Google is, despite criticism, so popular

2. Evaluation on the relationship between how Google works with user-sensitive data and in what way the company depends on these data for their business

3. Critical analysis of Google‘s behaviour in relation to the European Data Protection Act and the United States Safe Harbor Act (among other laws, such as Human Rights Acts)

4. Analysis of Google‘s customer awareness and behaviour

5. Recommendations for Google‘s customers to protect their data

Section 2 - 35% (1,513 words)

Justification for Project

Explain and justify the issue or problem you intend to explore. This should include for example, discussion of important academic debates, professional debates and key concepts. It is important that you outline and discuss the theories you will be exploring. You should give an indication of work already covered in this area and justify what your project will add.

2.1 The Internet

Internet technologies are changing our everyday lives. Through the history it constantly brought new innovations and made our lives easier in terms of access, time management and control. Billions of websites are available for access. According to, 29.7 billion webpages were counted, with a growth rate of 6 million webpages per day in 2007. (, 2007)

“ The internet offers a lot of crap, but the rest is pretty good actually “ (Zittrain, J., 2008, p. 9)

In order to optimize information, a user can use online search engines.

This justification presents a conclusion of articles and sections of books on the criticism about Google. These statements reflect the main issues about Google in the news which made the author do this project and are needed in order to understand the purpose of this project. Moreover, the researcher will give theoretical principles such as the Data Protection Legislation and privacy in general.

2.2 Google

According to Kaumanns, R. (2007), the largest of all search engines is the Google Search Engine. Google offers besides its search engine also applications such as Street View, Maps, Docs, Calendar and more which are all free to use. However, lots of criticism is published about Google on the internet and in a privacy ranking of internet service companies of Privacy International in 2007, Google ranked last in terms of privacy for customers. (, 2007)

According to David Drummond, the senior vice president of Google (2007), the com- pany has made it from a 2-men garage company to one of the leading companies worldwide because of a strong brand image and an excellent user experience. Its original activity, the search engine moved to a secondary position. According to him, Google is nowadays a strong brand on the internet and positions itself more and mo- re to a meta information company which earns money by acting as an intermediary via advertisements.

“ Google's new web browser Chrome is fast, shiny, and requires users to sign their very lives over to Google before they can use it. Today's Internet outrage du jour has been Chrome's EULA, which appears to give Google a nonexclusive right to display and distribute every bit of content transmitted through the browser. “

(, From the News Desk, 2008)

“ European regulators found that companies such as Google and Yahoo violate data protection acts. “ (Ryan Singel, Member of the EFF,, 2008)

Critics, such as the EFF, Privacy International and the Electronic Privacy Information Center agree that this is a violation of the data protection act. Google has for each application seperate EULA‘s, which allow them to ask for any information they want if the user agree on these EULA‘s. According to Article 4a.1 of the European Data Protection Act of 12 June, 2002, sending information and saving data on an external webserver is only permitted if the user consents and has access to these data. Google is legally allowed to save information if the user agrees and if these information are not made publicy available. (99/34/EG, 2002)

2.3.1 Google Street View

“ German Towns saying Nein “ to Google Street View “

(San Francisco Chronicle, October issue, 2008)

Half naked people, nose picker, people in front of a porn movie theater, all clueless photographed and included in Google Street View “. (Peter Schaar, 2008) Accor- ding to the German Representative for Data Protection, Peter Schaar, the collected photographs and the implementation in Google Street View are infringing the Ger- man data protection act.

According to him, viewers can get an optical imagination about nature, buildings, the outer shape of houses and backyards and can imagine about furniture, value, accessibility and the possibility for theft. (, 2008)

In Germany, as well as in lots of other European countries, Google stopped the a- quisition of residences of properties because of governmental restrictions. (

2.3.2 Governmental restrictions

According to the EFF, data protection moved from a secondary concern to a contentious political system. (, 2008)

John Perry Barlow (2008), a member of the EFF is said that “ Relying on the go- vernment to protect our privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds. “ He argues that governments can only set general restrictions, such as the shut down of Google Street View in Europe, or introduce new ammendments to the law but they cannot give restrictions for each website. He says that people have to care themselves about their data and their privacy by trying to control it. (, 2008)

According to Blakley, B. (1999, p. 39), the flow of data is immense and cannot be controlled by people. He says that new software is needed in order to protect systems and sensitive data.

"Its not the search engine as such, it's the fact that they can put together lots of in- formation from various services. It is from this that they have lots of information about you. “

(The Economist San Francisco, 2008)

2.4 Privacy

Privacy is a fundamental human right. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights defined privacy as the following:

“ No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. “ (ECHR, 1953)

Bob Blakley, a principal analyst of the Burton Group stated that “Privacy is not the right to be left alone - I don ‘ t want to be alone, but I still want privacy. “ Furthermore , “ privacy is not anonymity - If I ‘ m anonymous, I don ‘ t need privacy. “ (Blakley, B., 1999, p. 53)

Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights states that “Everyone has

the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic so- ciety in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. “ (ECHR, 1953)

According to Zittrain, J. (2008) on one hand, Human Right Acts and Data Protec- tion Legislation regulate Privacy, on the other hand freedom without privacy does not exist, because if everything one says and thinks is exposed one does not really have freedom. According to him, technology gave the tools and security concerns gave the legitimacy to keep track of everything one does. (Zittrain, J., 2008, p. 77)

Google‘s mission statement is “to organize the world ‘ s information and make it universally accessible and useful. “ (, 2009)

According to Ray Everett-Church (2008, p. 201), an expert on privacy laws, this

statement has no qualifiers, because “Google is not limiting itself to the information that only people want organized and accessible, nor do they suggest limiting accessibility to anything that somebody should not accessing. “

2.5 Conclusion

Google is being criticised a lot in terms of data protection for its users from inde- pendent institutions such as the EFF, Privacy International and the Electronic Pri- vacy Center. Google however, refutes this criticism. This justification shows only a very bit of the long ongoing debate between critics and Google. Therefore, the author will critically analyse the criticism surrounding Google privacy law issues and analyse to what extent those are validtowards its users in terms of data protec- tion based on the European Data Protection Act of 12 July, 2002 and the United States Safe Harbor Act of July, 2000.


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