Google says data is more like sunlight than oil, just 1 day after being fined $57 million over its privacy and consent practices

  • Google’s chief financial officer Ruth Porat said data is more like sunlight than oil.
  • It’s an upbeat twist on the phrase ‘data is the new oil’, which implies information is finite.
  • Porat said Google was using data for positive developments, like diagnosing breast cancer.
  • Her comments at the World Economic Forum come a day after Google was hit with a $57 million fine by French authorities over its data collection practices.

Google wants to popularise a more upbeat way of describing data: it’s more like sunlight than oil.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum on Tuesday morning, Google chief financial officer Ruth Porat said: “Data is more like sunlight than oil … It is like sunshine, we keep using it and it keeps regenerating.”

Most people know the phrase “data is the new oil,” a theory about how the world’s most valuable resource is information rather than petroleum.

Like the oil barons that preceded them, Silicon Valley titans such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon have risen quickly to profit from this new resource, and even control its flow. In another echo of history, regulators are eyeing the industry.

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