I commented back in October that Google was exhibiting signs of megalomania when it brought out its free toolbar. It now seems it is going to prove me right.
Last week Google showed the world the new version for Internet Explorer, which I can only describe as worrying.
It is still in beta test - which means you can grab a copy to play with but it's not quite ready for release yet - and has a feature called Autolink, which is causing all the concern.
This scans the web pages you are reading and automatically inserts links where, and I quote from Google, "you might benefit from them".
For instance, it will insert links in a web page to Amazon.com if it finds a book's ISBN number in the text. As far as I can see, this more of a "benefit" to Amazon.
Now website developers really don't want anyone interfering with the way their sites work. It's bad enough catering for the everincreasing number of platforms people use to view websites, without Google fiddling with them en route.
More worrying is the commercial aspect of Autolink. If you're selling books on your website you probably don't want it littered with links to Amazon.
If your site is at all popular, links from it are of commercial value - you don't want to give them away.
Whichever Google engineer thought this one up has probably now got his own corner office at the Googleplex, as Autolink will create a new revenue stream for Google - selling links from other people's sites.
As Google rightly points out, you can turn the feature off or not install its toolbar at all. But millions of people have inexplicably installed the old one and will presumably upgrade without concern.
Because of Google's geeky and non-commercial origins we collectively trust the Google brand, unlike the Microsoft brand, which seems to be universally treated with suspicion.
Yet the popularity of its search engine means Google holds greater commercial power than Microsoft. It can damage or improve a company's sales by altering the search result rankings. Particularly for online business, a good Google ranking is a life and death issue.
If another piece of software interfered with the way we see websites we'd call it " spyware". A classic spyware manoeuvre is to swap website banner ads with ones its owners make money on, if you click them.
In what way is Autolink different from this?
Viruses try and sneak onto our PCs using flaws in Windows and we can automatically protect ourselves against that. However, spyware writers use social engineering techniques to get us to unwittingly install their software, for which there is no defence other than education.
Because of the reassurance the brand offers, Google's new toolbar will be welcomed with open arms by many. But although it is far from being malicious, it does seek to make the same commercial gains that the authors of common spyware do.
* Chris is managing director of Internet consultancy WebXpress. This and other unedited articles can be found at www.webxpress.com