There seems to, finally, be a shift in coverage of Google towards the skeptical! No longer merely reprinting Google’s press releases about how wonderful and privacy-friendly every new service offering is, some analysts are finally seeing the bigger picture. Today’s case-in-point: Google’s new Wi-Fi offering dubbed Google Secure Access.

The concept is simple: Google plans to offer a free wireless Internet service in numerous major cities. They call it “secure” because you must first download a Virtual Private Network application which encrypts your signal guarding against having your data packets sniffed out of mid-air by hackers, the NSA, and other ne’er-do-wells. Your secured data then travels to and from the sites you visit, whizzing right past the gaping maw of Google’s massive data-mining infrastructure.. which stands by slack-jawed, leaving your private information alone.

In their privacy statement, they promise that your privacy is completely protected, unless they think you’re a bad guy — or were told you were a bad guy by law enforcement — whereupon they’ll capture everything. In this way Google is no different than any ISP who can, if needs be, capture every packet that comes to and from your computer.

But the real difference here is that Google’s model, thus far, has been to provide free services supported by targeted advertising. During this ‘beta’ phase, where the Google service is being tested in a number of major market cities around the globe, the service is free. Ask any analyst and, unless they’re too deeply pickled in Google’s Kool-Aid, they’ll tell you that Google is desperately seeking alternative revenue sources. Not that they’re hurting for cash… but they just don’t want to be a one-trick pony.

The bottom line remains the Bottom Line: Google will have to pay for Google Secure Access somehow. And that will be through charging a fee, or by doing what Google does best — shove data into the gaping maw and serve advertisements.

And just when you thought I was the lone nut in the wilderness, somebody else expresses reservations:

“[I want to] ask an uncomfortable question: How much of your life do you want to put at Google’s disposal? I’ve already noted several times that Google primarily offers all this really cool free stuff in order to mine your hard drive for information and use it to sell ads. That’s why Google’s ‘Secure Access’ program — the first bit of the WiFi strategy to hit the street — is such a spooky irony. It encrypts your WiFi data streams and filters your net experience through Google’s “secure” servers. Basically, Google is saying, ‘Use our encryption servers so no one will snoop on your data — except us.'”

Just another reason to look closely at the fine print in Google’s Privacy Policy, and to make a choice about how comfortable you are with the vague promises therein, especially as revenue pressures mount.

[Note: If you find the title of this posting odd, click here.]