A Cautionary Note on Google for Nonprofits

I was scrolling through today’s Nonprofit Online News from The Gilbert Center and was struck by the following cautionary note about the recently released Google for Nonprofits:

…I wish there were a section entitled Is Google for Nonprofits Right for You. For example, if you have even the slightest bit of worry about the privacy of your users from government spying, I would be highly cautious about this. Google has been more cooperative with both China and the Bush administration than I think is appropriate for the smaller, more vulnerable activist organizations that might gravitate toward the Google platform.”

To be honest, such a consideration would not have naturally crossed my mind – but that sort of ethical (and potentially legal) consideration would seem to be important for nonprofits whose activists might be targeted as a result of a government’s ability to track their activities online. As I’m sure such concerns apply to many other Internet-based platforms, it suggests yet another layer to peel back when examining online technology options for nonprofits.

PS: As I am not totally up to speed on Google’s level of cooperation with the Chinese government, I did a quick search using (what else) Google. Two relevant articles published today came up: China’s Battle to Police the Web on BBC News and Yahoo, Others Do China Balancing Act on Marketplace. Google is certainly not the lone Internet company criticized for its dealings with China. It is, however, the one that seems to be most actively working with nonprofits.


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