Back in the days of computer bulletin boards, there was an understanding among most BBS sysops that operating an online service established a social contract between you and your membership. And this contract said that just because you owned "the bat, the ball, and the field" didn't automatically give you the right to make up all the rules.
That was the theory anyway.
Apparently that's a theory some of today's big online players don't subscribe to. But in Google's case, they might be in for a lesson. Because concerns about some of Google's recent policy changes - and their snarky suggestion those who don't like it should go elsewhere
has provoked some attention on the State level.
First the Feds, and now thirty-six state Attorneys General, are voicing concern over Google's new privacy (or lack thereof) policy. In a multi-page letter
dated February 22, 2012, the AGs cut right to the chase:
Especially interesting was this paragraph where the AGs remind Google that the somewhat childish excuse many dotcom businesses offer which says "we know what we said before but we've since changed our minds
" doesn't quite fly in legal circles. By setting certain expectations over an extended period of time, Google may have painted itself into a corner (emphasis added):
It will be interesting to see how Google responds - and even more interesting, how this ultimately plays out in the coming months.
Full text of the letter in PDF format can be downloaded here