Don Marti

Sat 28 Jun 2014 08:00:07 AM PDT

We marched on Google 12 years ago.

Update 5 Oct 2014: Google to Make Security Guards Employees, Rather Than Contractors.

In 2002, The Mountain View, California Xenu Study Group did a small-scale Google protest. There was some issue with bogus DMCA takedowns against Scientology results in Google searches, so we organized a small group...

photo: "everybody look numerous"

We got some media coverage: Google Restores Church Links

...and Matt Cutts invited us in for a meeeting.

Eventually Google started sharing DMCA takedowns with Chilling Effects Clearinghouse to help expose that kind of thing.

Most importantly, the company protected the Google brand. They can stick with "Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful." and not get stuck with "Google's mission is to organize the world’s information unless the Church of Scientology squawks about it, in which case we'll drop it like a hot rock." The company has taken a similar approach to other censorship issues too.

It wasn't the solution we wanted as protestors, but it was in the company's interest.

So that was Google in 2002. What about the Google of today?

At the Google I/O conference this week, the topic of security came up a few times. I got a flyer for a protest about lousy pay and benefits for security guards and also went to a talk on "Security at Scale at Google" by Stephan Somogyi. Looks like the video of the talk is up. Worth watching.

Today, the threat to the Google brand is that first, the company wants you to trust Google with your personal information, while at the same time the physical security of the place, well, based on how the contract firm handles it, it doesn't seem to be a priority. It's not an issue of loyalty or diligence. The problem is the cognitive load of dealing with poverty. You don't make people carry bricks and memorize random numbers while doing their jobs, because that interferes with decision making. Same with the whole extra job of "just getting by."

Google will always do two things: protect its brand and do something "googley" instead of whatever the prognosticators on the outside come up with. But I'm going to make a guess anyway. Instead of either beating down the protests (which beats down "the cloud" as collateral damage) or supporting SEIU, they're going to bring the security guards in-house.

Costs don't have to go up too much, since the company will be able to cut out the middleman, offer security guards Android development and SEO training as benefits to help with recruiting (it's all about the "learn to code" now, right?), plus put the security guards on (the thing that Google is going to do to disrupt health insurance) and charge it to R&D. SEIU will hate it, the contract security firm will hate it, but Google will come out ahead.