Does Google Needs an Ombudsman or Not?

Jun 24, 2008 • 9:28 am | comments (2) by twitter | Filed Under Other Google Topics

Last week, we talked about Google's new tool: trends for websites. In response, Michael Gray wrote a fantastic post about how Google gave us access to our website data, but not Google's itself. When you search for, you get " has no data available for ranking."

" has no data available for tracking"

Not so fair, is it?

Barry Welford takes the discussion to Cre8asite Forums where he says that it may be a good idea for Google to look for an ombudsman to ensure equity. Should it be done?

In theory, it's a good idea. Will it work, though? It's hard to say. The concept of "fairness" on the Internet is difficult to ascertain, according to Joe Dolson. In another counter-argument, iamlost says that the web developers need to grow up. This is exactly what happens because you're using Google Analytics. (Thus, the Google Trends data is actually an opt-in procedure.) Still, however, just because Google is so big doesn't entitle them to do whatever they want. An ombudsman would be a private entity (hired by Google) to ensure fairness on all fronts. Personally, I think that it's a very smart idea.

The discussion ensues on Cre8asite Forums, with many people thinking that it may not work out, and others believing that Google already has a right to use this information in this particular case, so applying the ombudsman theory to this argument is a weak one. Check it out at the Cre8asite Forums.

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Tom Kosakowski

06/24/2008 02:50 pm

In June 2007, privacy expert Lauren Weinstein urged Google to appoint an organizational ombuds to help the company address growing privacy concerns. She proposed "a non-lawyer who would be assigned full-time to act as an easily approachable and highly available front-line interface between the public and Google operational/R&D teams." Many other organizations, including ICANN and other research intensive institutions have ombuds to supplement formal mechanisms. Despite widespread coverage of Weinstein's comments, Google did not respond to the suggestion. Read more at:

Clayton Gilman

01/28/2009 08:46 am

The issue for Fortune size companies is always, "what level of transparency should we have as good corporate citizens". In this case it appears to be more of a "need to know" basis. Also, financial "metrics" are now "accepted" public reporting, if you can believe the data. Perhaps we need to set other "standards" for information disclosure in general?

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