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More Privacy Laws or None At All — Google Still Wins

Anyone who has just a basic knowledge of privacy laws and companies like Google understands that Google runs on people’s data. Each Google user shares their information with the company to then be served very specifically targeted advertisements and to “personalize” their experience.

How Does Google Benefit from A Lack of Privacy Laws?

Google is the biggest data collection company in the world. Every one of the billions of searches it processes on a daily basis sends data back to Google’s servers. The information Google has stored on its servers is measured in “exabytes”, which is roughly one million Gigabytes. Much of this data contains information about specific users and their personally identifiable data.

Without privacy laws, Google can essentially do whatever it wants to collect people’s information. They can then use this information however they like whether that means selling it to third parties or using it to better target the ads served on their ad network. More information means more power, more influence and more profit for Google. While Google’s competitors would also benefit, Google’s massive user base and data stores put it a step ahead of any of its competitors. Most people use Google without understanding its data collection processes’, but some closely examine Google’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Services before using it. Other people choose to use alternative services to Google because of their broad data collection. If Google isn’t obligated to disclose its data practices, acquiring new users will be easier as they won’t have to consent to Google’s policies.

How Does Google Benefit from More Privacy Laws?

This is counter-intuitive, but following the passage of GDPR, the reach of Google’s ad network has risen while its competitors have seen drops in their reach. Google is better optimized to adapt to new regulations that its smaller competitors.

  • Google Has More Resources to Devote To New Privacy Requirements: Google can devote entire teams to shifting their data processes to comply with new regulations. Smaller competitors may have to take members of their operations team away from key duties to change their processes for collecting and storing user data.
  • Google Can Influence Legislators to Make Sure Regulation Aligns with Google’s Interests: According to OpenSecrets.org, Google spent over $21 million on lobbying in 2018. This political influence lets Google get an idea of where regulation is likely heading and gives them the opportunity to shift the regulations based on their business interests.
  • Google Already Has the Most Tracker on the Internet: If websites are trying to reduce the number of trackers they have installed on their pages, they may first remove smaller advertisers. Google also has the most advanced data tools, like Analytics, that make having Google trackers especially useful.

Another way that Google benefits from stricter laws is that people are more likely to give Google permission to use their data than a smaller company that they may have never heard of. Google’s name recognition gives people security even if it has privacy issues. If more privacy regulations are in place, people may believe that the laws adequately protect their privacy, even if they don’t. This could move users back to Google from private alternatives if people believe they no longer need privacy-focused tools.