Really, Google is evil now? Let's Get Real. How About Apple?

I just came across this story:

Google’s Broken Promise: The End of "Don’t Be Evil"
JAN 24, 2012

I have to confess that I find the furor to be overblown.

Collecting data isn't evil. It's the currency of the future, a currency that we provide in order to buy useful services, many of which can ONLY be provided if that data is aggregated and analyzed and made relevant. There are evil things that you can do with that data, but just collecting it isn't evil. I wish people would avoid the linkbait headlines unless they have evidence that Google is actually doing bad things with that data.

If you want an example of a company that is doing "evil", consider Apple. I was horrified when I heard Mike Daisey, author of the one-man show "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," talking on This American Life about working conditions in the factories that make the iPhone and iPad, and Apple's tepid monitoring of those conditions. When a company has $98 billion in cash, and profits of tens of billions of dollars each quarter, does it really need to squeeze every last cent out of manufacturing costs?

The account of how Apple's factories substituted n-hexane, a neurotoxin with well-documented long term adverse health effects, for alcohol to wipe those shining screens clean, gaining a miniscule advantage in drying time but exposing workers to a lifetime of disablement, nearly brought me to tears.

That's evil. Of course, Apple never promised to do no evil, so they get a free pass.

Journalists should listen to this episode, and then write about that, please:

Update: The point of this post was not to excuse Google by saying Apple is worse. It was to draw a distinction between the potential for harm (Google is collecting all this data, and that could be bad) and actual harm (Apple - and just about every other company making cheap electronics - is countenancing incredibly bad labor practices that do real damage to people, right now.) There are many things that Google does that I consider as violations of its "Don't be evil" mantram (including profiting from ads from content farms, spammers, IP thieves, et al), but collecting and analyzing user data isn't one of them. I'd be delighted to hear about and spread the word about actual violations of user privacy on Google's part that are causing actual harm. But alarmism about what they might do, given how much data they have, isn't a case of actual harm, and doesn't make Google "evil".
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