Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Google Attacks Attacker
Google is in the news again. This time, as the worst Internet-based company at protecting consumer privacy, according to a report issued by the London-based advocacy group Privacy International. The report by Privacy International (PI) explains the ranking in part because the group believes it has “witnessed an attitude to privacy within Google that at its most blatant is hostile, and at its most benign is ambivalent.”
This report ultimately served as a kategoria (or an accusation, as described by apologia scholar Halford Ross Ryan). Google allegedly fired back, by contacting journalists and claiming that PI did not name Microsoft as the worst company because it has a conflict of interest with the software giant.
This alleged tactic can be described in apologia terms as: condemnation of the condemners (Sykes and Matza 1975, Scott and Lyman 1968), shortcomings or misdeeds of accuser (Schonback 1980), or attacking the accuser (Benoit 1995). As Benoit explains, the rhetorical power of this strategy is that if the credibility of one’s attacker (in this case, PI) can be reduced, the damage to the accused’s image (that is, Google’s image) can be reduced as well.