Google’s Open Double Standard: Fact-Checking Google’s Treatise on “The meaning of open”

December 27, 2009 | Filed Under Budget, Business, Capitalism, Computers, Democrats/Leftists, Economy/Finances, Google, Inernet, Liberals, Net Neutrality, Scott Cleland, Technology | Comments Off

-By Scott Cleland

Google posted its treatise on “The meaning of open” designed to redefine the word “open” in Google’s image. It is an important read because it is a bay window view into the altruistic way that Google yearns for the world to perceive it.

Like most all of Google’s PR, however, Google’s Treatise on “The meaning of open” may be “the truth” as Google sees it, but it is certainly not “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

I. Google’s Open Double Standard

Simply, Google is for “open” wherever it does not have a monopoly or dominant market position, however where it does, as in AdWords, AdSense and search advertising syndication, it is closed, to ensure that its dominance remains impregnable to competitors.

In the height of irony, Google has cleverly flipped a concept that was originally designed to be a sword of competition to a closed monopoly, and applied it as a political/PR shield to protect Google’s closed monopoly from competition.

Google admits: “Open systems are chaotic and profitable, but only for those who understand them well and move faster than everyone else.” [bold emphasis added]

Google de facto admits here that open systems are only profitable for the one that better understands and is faster than “everyone else” i.e the open-opoly winner of the open race.

Now, light bulbs should be going on in readers heads why Google:

  • Has a master plan to “Make the Web faster;”
  • Serially releases betaware forcing open sourcers to orbit around Google’s monopoly center of gravity; and
  • Serially releases more new products and services than anyone (that just happen to uniquely integrate with one another and depend on underlying data and private information that only Google has.)

Google “understands” that its doublespeak re-definitions of “open” and “free” enable Google to uniquely harness the Internet’s many network effects for the benefit of Googleopoly. In a word, Google’s between-the-lines re-definition of “open” is: “that which benefits Google.”

In Google’s 4400 word treatise telling everyone else how they should run their businesses openly, Google dismisses the notion in 82 words that Google’s monopoly businesses should be open.

“In many cases, most notably our search and ads products, opening up the code would not contribute to these goals and would actually hurt users. The search and advertising markets are already highly competitive with very low switching costs, so users and advertisers already have plenty of choice and are not locked in. Not to mention the fact that opening up these systems would allow people to “game” our algorithms to manipulate search and ads quality rankings, reducing our quality for everyone.”

There is a reason students are not allowed to grade their own papers and judges are not allowed to hear their own appeals and it is the same reason Google cannot be the definer and arbiter of Internet openness no matter how deeply Google feels that it already is and always should be.

Principles, to be principles, must be principled. Any monopoly power that can de facto dictate a standard for everyone else but itself, is unjust, unfair, and unreasonable.

Google, in pretending to stand for “The meaning of open” for all, while at the same time self-exempting only Google’s monopolies businesses from the so-called principle, is the ultimate in dystopian hypocrisy and cynicism.

II. Fact-Checking Google’s “The meaning of open” Treatise

Google: “…we need to lay out our definition of open in clear terms… There are two components of our definition of open: open technology and open information. Open technology included open source… and open standards…”

Why does Google not include the definition of an “open market” — “a freely competitive market operating without restrictions”?

Could the reason for Google’s gross omission of “open market” be that the definition then would not square with Google’s self-serving re-definition of an “Open Internet” which requires that FCC regulation and not market competition produce openness? And which requires that open Internet principles only apply to Google’s broadband competitors and not to Google itself?

Google: “…we have a big opportunity to lead by example…”

Why doesn’t Google lead by example where Google leads the world by opening Google’s “black box:”

  • Search algorithm?
  • Search advertising auctions for AdWords and AdSense? and
  • Quality Score which determines Google PageRank?

Why is Google’s Chrome browser closed to the Internet in that it blocks user access to the Domain Name System address bar that enables users to go directly to the website of their choice?

Google: “Our committment to open systems is not altruistic. Rather it is good business.”

How does this assertion square with Google’s assertion above that “open systems are chaotic and profitable but only for those who understand them well and move faster than everyone else.”

And if its good business, why shouldn’t Google’s clients (advertisers and publishers) have access to the same buy-sell market information that customers have in most every other market, but don’t get from Google?

Google: “Our goal is to keep the Internet open…”

Since over 70% of the world searches Google’s exact mirror copy of the Internet stored on Google’s servers, why is GooglesNet not considered the Internet when it is for all intents and purposes for over 70% of Internet search users?

Google: “…our approach to open information is to build trust with the individuals who engage within that ecosystem… we adhere to three principles of open information: value, transparency, and control.”

How is it open when, like a one-way mirror, Google takes access to more private information than any entity in the world without permission, but is among the most secretive companies in America about its own core business?

How is Google’s open information “transparent” to users, if surveys indicate that most users are largely unaware that their private information is being collected without their permission by Google?

How is a user in so-called “control” of all the information Google collects on them if Google’s so-called “privacy dashboard” does not have:

  • An on-off switch?
  • One omni-opt-out-box? Or
  • A “Do Not Track List” button that is only “one click away?”

Google: “… open is the only way…”

  • Why should there be no competition to Google’s re-definition of “open?”
  • What if someone does not want, or agree with, Google’s open approach?
  • Is there any room for dissent or reasonable difference of opinion from Googleopoly’s “only way?”

In sum, Google obviously is aware that the word “open” has over 88 different definitions per, so it is furiously trying to redefine what “open” means in the context of Google and the Internet.

* Part of “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” that Google has so grossly omitted from its definition of “open” is that open can easily mean “vulnerable,” which is why I wrote the white paper: “The Many Vulnerabilities of an Open Internet.”

Lastly, it should be no surprise that the author of Google’s post on “The meaning of open,” is Jonathan Rosenberg, Google Sr. VP for product development, who infamously declared earlier this year in a Google omni-post:

“We won’t (and shouldn’t) try to stop the faceless scribes of drivel, but we can move them to the back row of the arena.”
Scott Cleland is one of nation’s foremost techcom analysts and experts at the nexus of: capital markets, public policy and techcom industry change. He is widely-respected in industry, government, media and capital markets as a forward thinker, free market proponent, and leading authority on the future of communications. Precursor LLC is an industry research and consulting firm, specializing in the techcom sector, whose mission is to help companies anticipate change for competitive advantage. Cleland is also Chairman of, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Precursor LLC and an e-forum on Net Neutrality funded by a wide range of broadband telecom, cable and wireless companies. He previously founded The Precursor Group Inc., which Institutional Investor magazine ranked as the #1 “Best Independent” research firm in communications for two years in a row. His latest op eds can be seen at

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