Globalization has changed how nations and different societies interact. There are no longer strict borders and far off regions that are inaccessible. Anyone with the Internet can connect with a person on the other side of the world and vice versa.
Certainly, the highly connected society we find ourselves in today has its advantages. From a cultural standpoint, it's enabled the exchange of ideas, rituals and customs that may have been shut off from certain parts of society. It's helped trade flourish and has made it easier for curious global citizens to simply explore their planet.
Google takes advantage of differences
No organization should be rewarded for breaking the law and infringing on the privacy rights of individuals. However, that's what Google has been able to do across Europe.
The Associated Press recently reported that France has called on the search engine giant to be more transparent about the personal user data it collects. Specifically, it wants to know exactly what it is using the information for, something the company has been reluctant to divulge. If the company fails to comply, it could face a $402,180 fine. Chump change when you consider that company made $14 billion in revenues in the first quarter of the year.
Across European Union nations – which the AP noted have much more stringent privacy laws – other nations are ready to back France in their attempt to make Google follow the rules. Britain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands are all ready to join France in calling for increased compliance.
For Germany, it would be the second battle against Google it's waged in several months. In April, The New York Times stated that German officials fined the company €145,000 – with €150,000 being the maximum fine possible – for illegal collection of personal information. The Germans claimed that Google collected innumerable bits of data from WiFi routers via its Google Street View vehicles.
Naturally, Google cried ignorance, stating that they weren't aware that the cars were collecting data. On the surface this seems illogical. And when you really think about the large databases and targeted ads the company has championed, it seems even more illogical that the company simply didn't know the information was being collected.
Strict policy needed
By becoming a behemoth in the United States, the company crossed the pond, deciding that the low fines levied against them for privacy infringement were just part of running a business. It's a sad truth and one that must be dealt with quickly to avoid more instances of privacy erosion.
The biggest gripe among EU officials has been that the maximum fines for such illegal activities are too small. European officials should pass legislation that allows them to fine the likes of Google so companies of such financial standing feel it in their wallet.
Apart from that, all international bodies should seriously discuss the possibility of forming privacy agreements, similar to the collaborative efforts of international trade pacts. Of course, this won't be possible between certain nations. It's fairly unlikely that President Obama and Kim Jong Un will be sitting down to talk about civil liberties anytime soon.
Even so, a joint policy from the United States and the EU would be a good starting point.
Do you think there should be more standard privacy regulations across the world? If so, do you think it should follow a lax U.S. model or should it be more rigid like the EU model?