This morning while reading my feeds I had one of those moments while reading several feeds that i connected some possible dots and they where somewhat disturbing to me. One article I read was over on scobleizers blog about the Microsoft acquisition of aQuantive. And I read some other posts concerning google and dell whether they would be using some sort of spyware. Though this is disturbing, my take is that openDNS of course has some reasons to come forward with this, and I haven’t seen it confirmed yet on other sides. But if true Google and Dell should make sure that this is mended.
But this made me thinking, Google is already heavily in the advertising business and with the recent additions is entrenching even more heavily. But the nice thing of using a search engine is that you can easily use another one. If google is starting to use to much of my data, I’ll just search for another comparable engine and I’m off. These companies have a vested interest in obtaining as much user data of me as is possible, because they might be able to find patterns and provide me with targeted advertising.
As I never had heard of aQuantive i had a look at their website because i was curious about the company. As it seems to be build out of some other companies i had a glance and saw their Atlas company. And maybe this triggered me, I wasn’t sure yet, but it actually doesn’t matter really what triggered me. I saw the opportunity and it disturbed me. These companies live of gathering data about users. (just as google does) But what I found disturbing is that after the acquisition it could be possible that they would slowly push for some stuff in the Windows Operating System to start gathering user data (they already do this with your consent for instance with regards to msn to enhance the user experience..).
But what if they just start doing it. The OS can call home numerous times because for instance the WGA check, windows update and error reporting. It would be relatively easy to just sneak some user data in there which could be used to target users. They control the browser as well, so they could sneak stuff in there as well without the large mass of users knowing it, and you would definitely get some nice user data which you could then use to convince advertisers that they have the best data and hence it would make sense to advertise using their system….
The disturbing thought of course is that most users won’t be able to move away from this as is possible when moving away from the search engine. Only future will tell us whether they’ll do it. But I think it’s important to start keeping a sharp eye on both of them as competition increases.