Dollars for data part 2

Searching for the truth in China

Here in Australia, many are insulated not only against the idea and truth behind data for dollars. It may have come as a surprise to some of our readers that GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft), the multinationals often associated with talk of data-mining and misusing information, was even on the watchlist of those that value the security of their private data. But that’s the world we live in. Previous articles have talked about the relative naivete with which many dismiss the idea that they and their data are vulnerable to misuse and even attack from such sources. The thing is, it’s not just going on here in Australia, over in the States and to an extent the UK, it’s everywhere. You just may not be familiar with the key players in other neighbourhoods/countries/hemispheres.

BAIDU vs Google, there can be only one winner

If this is a battle for online search supremacy, we suppose, yes, there can be only one winner. But in the grand scheme of things, once this battle is in full flight, there is room for literally billions of losers. By that we mean the unprotected and blissfully unaware masses whose data remains vulnerable.

Let’s go back half a step. BAIDU is the Chinese internet company launched in China in 2000 and is currently the 8th largest such enterprise in the world. Worth almost 85bn CNY, this commercial monster is thriving in a market where the word commerce is a complicated proposition. Suffice to say that from its Beijing headquarters, it oversees an awesome volume of online traffic and search and this is reflected in its stock price. You know what else is reflected in its stock price? Rumours of war with Google.

In 2010, Google made some moves into the Chinese market but after a time, and presumably some reflection from its chief decision-makers, they tactically withdrew. Various articles will suggest that some of their practices were incongruent with China’s ways of working. None of this dilutes the fact that the data being sought, shared and leveraged is in anyway way less valuable than the data being sold to both the highest and lowest bidders right here. That could be the reason that Google announced at the beginning of last month, that it was going to take another crack at the Chinese market. Despite BAIDU responding with bold statements around resisting and eventually driving away foreign interests, they nonetheless saw a sharp drop-off in share value as a result.

Why are we telling you this?

Because it contextualises the pitch battle for data and personal information raging on around us… right now. So, let’s take a moment to join the dots here using three “if’s”.

  1. If Google saw that BAIDU was making a lot (understatement alert) of money and wanted in 9 years ago and
  2. If, Google and others, despite being knocked down but not out, still wanted to re-enter the market after (presumably) being shown the door and
  3. If they appeared unphased by BAIDU’s bravado
Then it stands to reason that certain people feel that Google and its stakeholders have a lot to gain in BAIDU’s backyard using the same practices that have left millions side-eyeing GAFAM over data harvesting practices.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not suggesting that a big, bad American company has come to crush a hapless local company in a faraway land… That’s not it at all. We are saying that given the undeniable value of data and personal information globally, we’re saying that the practices against which we stand are not limited to our fair shores. The universal truth is that if a commodity is valuable, commercial enterprises will seek to profit from it. Okay fine. Our stance though is, and always has been, that you should have a say and some control over what happens to your data – no matter where you are or where you’re from.

If you would like to continue the discussion, get in contact with us and let’s chat about how your private information can be kept safe wherever and whenever.