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What are the current ethical issues affecting Google?

What are the current ethical issues affecting Google?

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Current ethical issues affecting Google revolve around data management, in which privacy, deliberate search manipulation and censorship (Koene et al., 2015), among others, prominently feature. Notably, the manipulation of data by the company to favour its businesses while undermining the competitiveness of direct rival firms has been a major issue of concern that has seen Google involved in numerous legal cases around the world (Helbing, 2015). Edelman (2015) points out that the company manipulates search results to give its services, for instance, Google Shopping and Places, pre-eminence of those of rival companies. Many online-based firms depend on the traffic generated from searches on Google, which controls much of the search engines’ market share. For instance, between 2012 and 2015, NexTag, a company that provides shopping e-commerce solutions and depends on Google searches to draw consumers, reported considerable drops in its traffic after Google Shopping, a similar service, was launched and revamped (Edelman, 2015). As pointed out by Helbing (2015), the use of monopoly to undermine direct competitors contravenes the US antitrust law and conventional ethical business practices. Equally, Google, being the leading search engine has been questioned over its level of protection of consumer data. In the contemporary world, data privacy is a crucial issue both to individuals and businesses, and the concerns have risen with increasing cyber insecurity (Helbing, 2015). Google, rather than guaranteeing users total data privacy advises them to be careful about what they search on its engine and servers as that information is stored and could be accessed by any entity (Helbing, 2015). Equally, as Koene et al. (2015) note, the company has revised its data and now tracks users and give considerable access privileges to third party firms to source user search data through cookies and other techniques, which serves to further threaten user privacy.


Edelman, B. (2015). Does Google leverage market power through tying and bundling?. Journal of Competition Law and Economics, 11(2), 365-400.

Helbing, D. (2015). Big Data, Privacy, and Trusted Web: What Needs to Be Done. In Thinking Ahead-Essays on Big Data, Digital Revolution, and Participatory Market Society (pp. 115-176). Springer International Publishing.

Koene, A., Perez, E., Carter, C. J., Statache, R., Adolphs, S., O’Malley, C., ... & McAuley, D. (2015, May). Ethics of personalized information filtering. In International Conference on Internet Science (pp. 123-132). Springer International Publishing.