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Google reveals the secret of its success: “dolphin power”

Common_DolphinBy Simon Davies

It has been revealed that Google executives derive their power from dolphins. Well, from the metaphor of dolphins.

This surprising news comes courtesy of the personal blog of Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel. After launching into yet another diatribe against Europe’s rule of law (which are always entertaining) he poetically reflects:

Peter Fleischer: Dolphins are awesome

Peter Fleischer: Dolphins are awesome

“Whatever 2014 brings, I resolve to wake each day, like a swimmer ready to plunge into the pool, to swim through life like a frolicking dolphin, and to dive beneath the superficiality of the sargassum floating on the surface of the sea.”

Erm… OK. Well I guess if any of us had been hauled over the coals by the Italian judicial system and been handed a suspended prison sentence over YouTube’s unrestrained bullying, and then had to spend a traumatising few years overturning the verdict, some of us might want to behave like frolicking dolphins too.

However it’s one thing to celebrate cavorting with marine mammals and quite another to continually deride the world’s best legal privacy framework in the name of the world’s most lucrative advertising company. I mean, what’s the porpoise? Given the fact that Google has been declared unlawful in much of Europe one would imagine that some delicacy is called for. Or, at the very least, some respect. You don’t see EU companies parading around the Beltway slagging off the US Constitution.

A male dolphin will penetrate anything in sight, which again is a fitting metaphor for Google’s approach to European privacy rights.

I like frolicking with fish as much as the next man, but I would also worry that the animal I thought was a dolphin is in fact a shark, and will be seen as such. This is another strained metaphor to illustrate the danger to which Mr Fleischer exposes his company. He might imagine his continuing condemnation of Europe’s rule of law as a dolphin frolicking exercise, but EU lawmakers will view it as cohabiting with sharks.

In any event, I’d personally be cautious about associating myself too closely with dolphins. An untrained eye might view them as playful and cute, where in fact they are vicious, brutal, territorial and uncompromising. A male dolphin will penetrate anything in sight, which again is a fitting metaphor for Google’s approach to European privacy rights.

Come to think of it, perhaps the dolphin should be Google’s mascot: cute and social on the outside but in realty an utterly ruthless tyrant that will do anything to assert its territory and its lust.

I digress. There’s a serious side to Peter Fleischer’s comments. And of course he has inexplicable licence to say publicly what most other Google executives can only utter in private. Take a blog from last year:

“I’m not a fan of privacy-bureaucracy-drag. Europe, as one would expect, developed the world’s most extreme form of bureaucracy-drag, when it invented the notion of bureaucratic “prior approval” for new technologies. That means that a new technology is dependent on a bureaucracy’s prior approval before being launched. Or prior approvals for international data transfers (how absurd, in the age of the Internet!). Or prior approvals for binding corporate rules, and a thousand other bureaucratic hills and hurdles.”

Now this would be like Lufthansa waltzing into Washington and calling the US administration a bunch of hypocritical self-serving wankers with no idea how to run their country and no clue how to protect their citizens.

Spain, France, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries have already concluded that Google is flouting the law and undermining hard-won EU privacy rights. At some point the company must learn to be more of the social animal that it imagines dolphins to be: respectful and protective.