Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), (NASDAQ:GOOGL) luminary Sergey Brin faced criticism from John Simpson today at the firm’s annual shareholder conference. Mr. Simpson asked hard questions about the safety record of Mountain View’s fleet of self-driving cars. Sergey Brin was forced to defend his company and the project.
According to Brin there have now been 12 crashes involving the Google cars. Brin said that at least seven of the crashes involved a human driver rear-ending the Google car. Many of the other crashes were caused by human drivers at the wheel of the Google car. The firm avoided another, tougher question on its car.
Are Google cars a privacy issue?
Google may argue that users come to it with no expectation of privacy, but when it comes to putting info out there the firm often fails. Larry Page and the other leaders at the firm only decided to report the Google car crashes after a California court decided to force them to.
If that did not happen, the firm would likely have been happy to leave that info buried in some obscure filing likely not seen by the public. The news, when Google was forced to report it, was good, and the firm has been repeating it as a win for its self-driving car plan ever since.
Simpson questioned Google on what the firm would use the data gathered from the car for. When California wrote its laws related to self-driving cars, Simpson says that Google fought against a rule that would have barred it from using data from the car for anything other than driving.
The Google execs felt that the question wasn’t worth giving an answer to at this date. Mr. Simpson asked the firm for a commitment to protecting the data it gets from the cars, but Google did not offer one.
Google looks for car data
Google is in the data business. The firm has made almost all of its money by getting info, putting it together and basically selling it to ad firms. If Google puts a car on the road, John Simpson, and other, privacy advocates are worried about what Google will do with their travel data and everything else it will know about users.
Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is working on a self-driving car and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is also reported to be getting into the market. Both of those firms sell goods rather than information and neither is likely to start selling data to ad firms any time soon.
Tim Cook lambasted firms like Google in a recent speech. He said firms that “built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency” forced people to “make trade-offs between privacy and security,” an ethically suspect business model.
Given that Google refused to answer the question on car data, it should be assumed that the firm will use every single bit of info that it can get its hands on in order to be a more effective ad firm. That’s where sales come from at Mountain View.
Until Sergey Brin and Larry Page affirms otherwise, Google cars will collect your data, and they will use it in order to boost ad sales.