Google’s Sundar Pichai: Privacy should not be a luxury good

Sundar Pichai, in New York Times op-ed:

Over the past 20 years, billions of people have trusted Google with questions they wouldn’t have asked their closest friends: How do you know if you’re in love? Why isn’t my baby sleeping? What is this weird rash on my arm? We’ve worked hard to continually earn that trust by providing accurate answers and keeping your questions private.


“For everyone” is a core philosophy for Google; it’s built into our mission to create products that are universally accessible and useful. That’s why Search works the same for everyone, whether you’re a professor at Harvard or a student in rural Indonesia. And it’s why we care just as much about the experience on low-cost phones in countries starting to come online as we do about the experience on high-end phones.


Privacy cannot be a luxury good offered only to people who can afford to buy premium products and services. Privacy must be equally available to everyone in the world.

This op-ed is fascinating to me. Feels like Google recognizes Apple’s incorporation of privacy into its brand as a foundational policy. And it feels like Google recognizes how important the issue of privacy has become as a product discriminator.

And, finally, this feels like shots across Apple’s bow. As in, Apple values privacy, but only for the people who can afford their products. With Google’s release of the Pixel 3a, priced at $399, feels like Sundar Pichai is pitching Google, and the pixel, as the privacy-respecting product for the masses.

Anyone buying this?