This was a great question I saw posted somewhere online and I thought it made for a great topic to talk about.
The short answer is no.
The reason for this is because at any given moment, Google can change their definition of what they consider “whitehat” and all the things you were doing before are now in question.
The easiest way to stay on the right side if the fence is to always do things that will benefit the readers of your site. When the fabled Panda update came out, Google had determined that duplicate content on your own site was now bad. Many sites that had supplemental results found themselves out of the top search results in Google. The thing is, prior to this, Google said having that information on your site wasn’t an issue, but now it is.
Another problem with the whitehat label is that it has different definitions. To some, following every detail of Google’s webmaster guidelines is the key to proper whitehat worship. But I ask, why is Google the authority on what makes a site’s activities in getting it ranked “whitehat?”
Of course we all know that Google delivers the most traffic from organic rankings, so everyone is always trying to obey what the big G says. But having over seven years of working with sites and Google, I can tell you that there are separate sets of rules for different players.
If you are a big brand, you are immune to Google coming down on you for cloaking, buying paid links and participating in any deceptive content delivering techniques. So why can they get away with it? It’s simple. Google looks bad if BMW doesn’t appear in the search results.
However, if a lesser known brand did those same tactics, Google has no trouble wiping out those sites.
So, just as in life, there are no guarantees that no matter how much you try to do the right thing that you will be saved from any Google penalty, as long as you are creating content useful to your readers, they will ultimately find your site anyways.