Turns out there are bunches of them, as Len Witt notes. I tend to go with Jeff Jarvis' notion that the basics are pretty simple -- "Don't lie. Don't sell out." -- though the devil, as always, is in the details.
I tend to bring it down to this even tinier admonition: Be honorable. Period.
CNet: Security gripes? Microsoft feels your pain. It's not news to Microsoft that many, if not most, average Windows users have gripes about their PC experiences. In response, the software company is unveiling on Friday a new subscription-based computer fix-it service, aimed at automatically patching security holes, blocking viruses and spyware, and generally automating the chores of maintaining a computer's health.
I would have written a different beginning to this story, roughly as follows:
In winning and sustaining its monopoly in the operating system and browser markets, Microsoft has exposed countless millions of people to woes from security holes that have become conduits for viruses, worms and spyware. Now the software giant is planning to charge its captive customers to clean up the mess it created.
CNN: Military, law enforcement caught in FBI drug sting. FBI agents posing as cocaine traffickers nabbed 16 current and former law enforcement officers and U.S. soldiers who had accepted more than $222,000 in bribes to help move drugs past checkpoints, the government said.
Not that it will make any difference.
The War on (Some) Drugs continues anyway, even if it causes more harm than it prevents. But an alliance of interests -- law enforcement, Big Pharma, look-tough politicians and others -- continues to prevail over common sense.
So Google has mostly ignored the criticism of its Autolink feature in the new Toolbar. eWeek reports some modifications from the original, but not enough.
The principles here are simple enough. The practicalities are nuanced.
I'm generally on the side of user-modifiable Web content once it's reached the user's computer. Google maintains that's all it's doing here, and that users have ample choice about whether to download the toolbar or not.
Fair enough, but not sufficient. Google commands a special position, and the Toolbar default settings -- which are what most people will use -- are going to give he search company too much influence. This is a natural move for Google, but it should re-emphasize to everyone that the company's motives are the standard ones: looking out for its own interests, period.
Site publishers have never had the absolute ability to determine what readers see. But what Google is doing here goes beyond giving users a way to, say, resize fonts or block popup ads. It's using other people's work for its own -- and its partners' -- commercial purposes in a way that alters the content.
The alterations aren't that big a deal, not today. But it's inevitable that they will grow. This is too powerful a tool not to be used in more expansive ways.
Google still offers me value. But so do the alternatives, and I'm increasingly seeking those out.
AP: Conservatives Honor DeLay With Gala. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, facing an audience of conservative well-wishers who reject as politically motivated the ethics questions that have dogged him for months, on Thursday night fired back at Democrats by calling them members of a party with no ideas and "no class."
Prediction: Videotapes from this event will be used against some Republicans in upcoming political campaigns.
As Steve Yelvington notes today, Google's acquisition of the Dodgeball service is yet another shot across the bow for local news operations. I suspect many of them have no idea why, which is worrisome. (Steve's explanation will help.)