Schools & Governments Blocking Google Because It Won't Let Them Spy On Users

from the which-is-it? dept

So various governments around the world remain furious with Google for its accidental Street View wifi data collection. However, at the same time, governments are also getting annoyed and using filters to block government employees from using Google products because Google is now increasingly running more and more of its apps (including search and Gmail) via SSL, making it harder for those gov't agencies to spy on what users are doing. So... which is it? Is Google bad for spying on data? Or is Google bad for not letting governments spy on data?


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  1.  
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    sag, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 8:53pm

    Both

    Is Google bad for spying on data? Or is Google bad for not letting governments spy on data?

    Both, of course!

     

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  2.  
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    zealeus, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 8:56pm

    Spying vs filtering

    Working in a school as a sysadmin, this isn't about spying to me. I don't sit there looking at firewall logs of every search entry visited. Rather, the crux of the issue is the ability for content filters to work properly. With normal web queries, our web proxies can properly filter content (the concept of filtering in the first place is a completely separate argument). On the other hand, with https search, our web filter can no longer see the searches and properly filter inappropriate material as effectively (unless I install our own certificate authority, effectively performing a man in the middle attack).

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 9:00pm

    Re: Spying vs filtering

    I can tell you that your filtering does absolutely nothing, and never did.

    Anyone who ever knew about Google's offerings in the matter knows about plenty of other alternatives. And anyone who knew those alternatives was perfectly willing to spread the word to everyone who asked.

     

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  4.  
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    zealeus, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 9:00pm

    And FWIW, straight from Google's own blog regarding this subject: "We recently launched a beta version of encrypted (SSL) search at https://www.google.com to prevent people from intercepting our user's search terms and results. However, because encrypted search creates an obscured channel between a user's computer and Google, users who go to https://www.google.com can bypass some school's content filters. This can make it hard for schools to stop students from accessing adult content."

     

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  5.  
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    rsully, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 9:11pm

    Re:

    yeah anyone can get through your "filters" by running an SSH server on port 80 and tunneling (even blocking port 22 won't help you)

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 9:44pm

    School filters have never, ever stopped me from seeing something i shouldn't. >:)

     

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  7.  
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    School Admin, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 9:56pm

    >> yeah anyone can get through your "filters" by running an SSH server on port 80 and tunneling (even blocking port 22 won't help you)

    Perhaps, but if a US school wants money from the feds they must at least appear to try make their best effort to filter content and protect the children.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 10:34pm

    Re: Re:

    which in turn would set up a whole pile of other flags of open ports and traffic going to odd ports, that would (in a good organization) find your ssh server shut down (and potentially you without a job or without an education).

    if you are willing to work that hard to just use google, i would hate to see your moral stand on 'candy from a baby'.

     

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  9.  
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    darryl, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 10:47pm

    Please explain ??

    Mike, how can you hope to maintain your credibility, when you are a constant appoligist for Google.

    How can you say what Google did with streetview was accindental ?

    How did google "accindently" set up WiFi scanning machine, logging, and recording. And specifically tell people to go out and look for these open points.

    IM MULTIPLE CONTRIES.

    How could that be anything than premeditated, planned, known, planned, and executed WITH INTENT.

    For you to make a statement like that does you NO favors.



    You may need to find out what the word "accidental"

    "So various governments around the world remain furious with Google for its accidental Street View wifi data collection."

    so it was a planed, prepared for, taking considerable time and effort to set up, and do.

    But all that was an accident, people in various countries, accidently hit the "LOG WIFI" botton on their laptop, and "accidently" drove a carefull, dedefined course, "accidently" logged the data, "accidently" saved the data, and "accidently" sent that data to their boss who told them to "accidently" go out and collect that data.

    Yes right Mike...

     

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  10.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 10:58pm

    Re: Please explain ??

    Mike, how can you hope to maintain your credibility, when you are a constant appoligist for Google.


    Not apologizing for them. I explained why what they did was bad, and I have challenged Google repeatedly on other issues.

    How can you say what Google did with streetview was accindental ?


    Because almost everyone who knows anything about what they were doing notes that it was almost certainly accidental. I will have a post up on that with more details tomorrow.

    How did google "accindently" set up WiFi scanning machine, logging, and recording. And specifically tell people to go out and look for these open points.

    That part is not accidental. It was known and publicly revealed ages ago that part of Google's Street View effort was to also map WiFi (something that many companies do, by the way). In order to map WiFi, one thing that is frequently done is to triangulate using packets. That is what Google did.

    IM MULTIPLE CONTRIES.

    I'm assuming you mean "in multiple countries," and again this is not surprising or confusing at all. They used the same system for Street View images and WiFi triangulation everywhere. Not surprising. Why would Google use different systems in different places?

    How could that be anything than premeditated, planned, known, planned, and executed WITH INTENT.


    Again, it was already explained *what* they were doing: they were trying to map WiFi -- a perfectly legal thing to do, which many companies have done. One way to do that is to judge where the traffic is coming from via catching a few bits. That's what Google did.

    The *problem* and the *mistake* was that they didn't automatically delete the data.

    But there is no sign, whatsoever, of intent. If there were, wouldn't Google have actually done something with the data rather than ignore it (as it did)?

    You may need to find out what the word "accidental"


    I understand it quite well. You have not proven that their usage had intent, other than you repeating that it must have. That's not convincing.

    so it was a planed, prepared for, taking considerable time and effort to set up, and do.


    Mapping WiFi, yes. Recording data was an accidental byproduct of that.

    But all that was an accident, people in various countries, accidently hit the "LOG WIFI" botton on their laptop, and "accidently" drove a carefull, dedefined course, "accidently" logged the data, "accidently" saved the data, and "accidently" sent that data to their boss who told them to "accidently" go out and collect that data.

    Again, you seem to ignore the multiple legitimate purposes that were going on here: the street view mapping and the WiFi mapping. Why would you ignore all of that, other than the simple fact that it proves there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for what happened, and that the actual data collection was an accident.

    As for your claim that they sent the data to their bosses who told them to go out and collect, I have yet to see a single report that said that. Can you share where you heard that?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 11:00pm

    Re: Please explain ??

    mike is having a little credibility crisis here. he was so busy at googles headquarters saving* journalism that, well, he doesnt have time to look into anything negative about google, except to spew the standard lines of innocence.

    he is also suffering a little on the credibility side because he continues not to note his significant business and personal relationships that he has with google and key members of the google team. he fails to mention the material and potential financial support google has given his site and his projects. i think that information like this would greatly change peoples opinion of his pieces about google.

    basically, a pro-copyright blogger who failed to disclose relationships with the **aas or that they held panel discussions in the offices of emi would get raked over the techdirt coals. i find it interesting that mike doesnt hold himself up to the same level of scrutiny.

     

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  12.  
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    Jay (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 11:02pm

    Re: Please explain ??

    Conspiracy much?

    I mean, as soon as they found the data, they asked what did that particular government want to do with it. After the limbo, they set the record straight.

    I'm sure that every last human being in the world is perfect and can admit to making a mistake.

    How about quit with the "call to arms" type thing and more factual data?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 11:13pm

    Re: Re: Please explain ??

    "as soon as they found the data" are you sure? the first streetview of the UK was done a fairly long time back. are you sure they moved as soon as they knew they had data? after all, some software guy had to know they were capturing it and storing it, he wrote the code.

     

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  14.  
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    Jay (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 11:29pm

    Continuing my thought...

    Do you code?

    Not to make that seem as an attack but optimizing code can sometimes leave unintended consequences. Yes, Google is filled with software engineers but even they make mistakes.

    And let's think about it. Google could have said nothing about this, destroyed the data, and no one would be the wiser. Or they could take a blip in PR but show that they are maintaining a standard. They asked the governments what to do with this and followed the protocol for it.

     

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  15.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 11:32pm

    Re: Re: Please explain ??

    mike is having a little credibility crisis here. he was so busy at googles headquarters saving* journalism that, well, he doesnt have time to look into anything negative about google, except to spew the standard lines of innocence.


    Heh. I find it amusing that you missed the two negative pieces I ran on Google last week.

    There are all sorts of things that Google does that I disagree with, and I have no problem saying so.

    he is also suffering a little on the credibility side because he continues not to note his significant business and personal relationships that he has with google and key members of the google team. he fails to mention the material and potential financial support google has given his site and his projects. i think that information like this would greatly change peoples opinion of his pieces about google.

    The brief and tiny relationship with Google was clearly disclosed. Trust me, the "financial" relationship with Google you want to make a big deal out of is not what you think it is, and has no impact on the credibility of this site, and has not changed my stance on anything related to Google. I still ding them for the same things I dinged them for before, and I still side with them on the same things I sided with them on before.

    If Google never hosts us for another event (a definite possibility), it would be of no loss to us. We've already got about 5 other companies who have offered to host us for future events. Google's contribution to our business is immaterial to the extreme. If I pissed off Google (and, at times, it seems that people there are pissed off at what I write) we would not be losing anything.

     

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  16.  
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    Fsm, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 11:43pm

    Re: Re: Please explain ??

    You earned my respect again Mike. I'm glad you aren't one of the lemmings that thinks what Google was doing is evil just because "OH NOES MY WIFIS WERE MAPPED".

     

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  17.  
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    Moo^2, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 12:13am

    Both parties are hypocrites, but that doesn't suprise me.

    What does suprise me is that people think that blocking Google will do anything but annoy their students/employers.

    Yes, by all means, block the most visited website in the world, the search engine that everyone knows. Make the user experience more cumbersome and annoying, this will surely improve workplace morale and student motivation.

    what a crock of shit.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 12:43am

    The thing I don't get is this.

    Security should be more important in this instance than the ability to see if students are watching porn.

    Porn could be bad and certainly is abhorrent in a public space still is not like every single student will go his whole life without knowing what sex is so why again security is being left in second place?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 12:53am

    Re: Re: Please explain ??

    In the wild dream land lets suppose you are right and he is a mouth piece from Google.

    Still I would take his word any day of the week instead of the word of such corrupt liars, greedy bastards from the entertainment camp(that are not that entertaining now days).

    Google is friends with people at the moment, they didn't go all out suing people, and there are certainly things people dislike about them, but seriously is not them trying to pass laws to make harder for people to be honest and is not them suing mothers, 90'tish years old people, making extortion and bullying a way of life.

    That is why people don't like you guy's, you people asked for it, now deal with it.

     

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  20.  
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    Chris, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 12:58am

    Collecting data

    Personally I don't have any problem with them collecting wifi data. It's the same principal as the streetview imagery. Everything was gathered from public roads, where anyone could obtain the exact same results.

    If people are stupid enough to not secure their own networks, then it's their own fault. For everyone else, it would be a small snippet of encrypted nonsense, and if people are that worried about what is being transmitted from their homes or offices, they should really have everything wired and not be broadcasting a signal at all.

     

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  21.  
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    Griff (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 1:01am

    Maybe I'm missing something here but...

    ... Isn't it possible to block https://www.google.com without blocking http://www.google.com ?

    Not that long ago I recall that google was blocked because you could view banned web pages by looking at them via google's "english to english translator". The resulting URL looked nothing like the banned page and hence slipped through the filter.


    BTW, my personal take on the google WIFI mapping is this
    - If I post my private diary on the sidewalk outside my house and someone walks past and reads it, I have no grounds for accusing them of violating my privacy. As I understand it, google simply sniffed for unique mac addresses and in the case of unsecured networks some actual data came out in the process. What are the critics objecting to, that they sniffed out the data, or that they accidentally stored it ?

     

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  22.  
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    abc gum, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 4:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    lower case coward missed the point again, although I'm not suprised.

     

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  23.  
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    abc gum, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 4:54am

    Oh boy ... the anti-google brigade is out in force again.

     

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  24.  
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    ComputerAddict (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 5:17am

    Re: Maybe I'm missing something here but...

    They are only blocking https://google.com, the unintended consequence is that other apps like Google Docs also use the https protocol and since https://docs.google.com is under the same TLD as http://google.com they both are getting blocked.

    Docs is just one of a dozen apps that use https, also google offers "Google Apps for Education" which provides schools free email and docs for domains than end in .edu, since authentication happens through google.com they basically are blocking access to their own email.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 5:22am

    Re: Please explain ??

    Thanks for being an NSA warrentless wiretapping appologist.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 5:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Please explain ??

    "I find it amusing that you missed the two negative pieces I ran on Google last week." - i didnt miss them, they were wishy-washy and lacking in conviction, written very softly, like someone trying to say something a little bad without offending anyone.

    "The brief and tiny relationship with Google was clearly disclosed. Trust me, the "financial" relationship with Google you want to make a big deal out of is not what you think it is, and has no impact on the credibility of this site, and has not changed my stance on anything related to Google. I still ding them for the same things I dinged them for before, and I still side with them on the same things I sided with them on before." - the problem is, there is no way for us to know that. it is exactly the same sort of connection that you would crucify others for. do you like the feeling of where you are sitting right now? this is what you do to others on a regular basis, insinuating relationships and motivations that dont exist. from the outside looking in, your connections with google are numerous and enough to make us wonder. it would be more than enough for you to hang someone else.

    "
    If Google never hosts us for another event (a definite possibility), it would be of no loss to us. We've already got about 5 other companies who have offered to host us for future events. Google's contribution to our business is immaterial to the extreme. If I pissed off Google (and, at times, it seems that people there are pissed off at what I write) we would not be losing anything." - well now, are you saying there are 5 other companies you should no longer be commenting on, or you need to make disclosures about? do you see how this goes? again, this is the same sort of thing you would hang others for.

    then again, i realize that you dont want to apply the same standards to yourself as you would to those you dislike or oppose. otherwise, you wouldnt threaten to reveal the ip addresses of comment writers, thus violating their privacy. interestingly, i couldnt find a privacy policy linked on your main page. where is it again?

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 5:50am

    public information is public. if someone does not secure their own wireless connection, it is their own fault for broadcasting their information to the public domain.

     

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  28.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 6:04am

    Search is safe

    So all the beta search does is encrypt your search term and the results listing. Sure you could see thumbnail images of porn or what not but once you click a link...it is no longer secured unless the site is secure. Google SSL Search : Features

     

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  29.  
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    zealeus, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 6:52am

    SSH

    Regarding getting around filters. yea, I know about SSH. There are also plenty of ways for me to block that. For instance, on FF, I can change the configuration to disallow access to Network options and use Active Directory prevent changes to IE while preventing running other programs, including Portable Apps. And while I don't spend my time filtering through all the logs, it is fairly obvious when every single piece of traffic from a host goes through one IP address that something funny's going on. Plus, there are remote desktop resources to allow me to see your screen and when I see access to Facebook, again, it's fairly obvious something amiss is up.

    I do realize there are always new ways around the filter, which I need to discover and figure out. Also, I think ya'll vastly overestimate the actual technical prowess of most students. Mention the words SSH, VPN, or Proxy and you'll just draw a blank stare from most people.

     

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  30.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 6:55am

    Re:

    So set the network to block https://google.com but not http://google.com

     

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  31.  
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    Mew, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 7:45am

    Re:

    Looking up porn in public places is for the most part not a problem. For instance: the Library where I work has no filtering and the amount of people looking up porn on an unfiltered connection in a public place is suprisingly low (about 3 or 4 in five years). The only ones who did were drunk homeless people and some other seedy people who were pretty high on the ban list for disruption anyway.

    In school there's the juvenile "let's put gay porn as jimmys background" stuff, but actually looking at porn is done at home (also speaking from experience).

     

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  32.  
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    David, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Please explain ??

    Well said, Mike! I probably would have dismissed that rant, seeing as it clearly came from someone who is ignorant of (or deliberately ignoring?) the facts. But I'm glad you responded, if only to point out the absolute stupidity of the commenter's "argument."

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 8:24am

    Re: Continuing my thought...

    i code. i dont write data to storage without knowing what it is. i dont catalog and maintain it. i write only the data i want to keep.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 11:41am

    But... but...

    ... it's only spying when somebody other than us is doing it...

    When we're doing it, it's collection of intelligence information.

     

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  35.  
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    Art (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 3:11pm

    Re: #6

    "School filters have never, ever stopped me from seeing something i shouldn't. >:)"

    I actually took a course in web design in high school that taught me nothing about web design, but did teach me how to evade the school's filters. The teacher mentioned that the school's filters could be easily circumvented. He stopped short of explaining how, but didn't raise an eyebrow when a couple student immediately picked off where he left off.

     

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  36.  
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    technologiez, Aug 16th, 2010 @ 8:24am

    Is street view service will be available in new Google Earth?

    really Google is doing better projects and offering good services. Is street view service will be available in new Google Earth?

     

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  37.  
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    Kylie, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 12:34pm

    Really?

    REALLY?! Blocking Google because the government/schools cannot spy on what is being searched? Wow. That REALLY shows how over the top people go. Internet Filters, in my opinion, are worthless. No filter at home, so what is the friggin point? The kids can EASILY go to a friends house, OR EVEN IF THEY DON'T HAVE A COMPUTER, USE A PS3! (It has an internet browser, IF they even have a PS3 that is able to be connected to the internet.) I really really REALLY do NOT understand why schools block so many websites. Like right now. I've been trying to search for Bloons 2, the most NON-INAPPROPRIATE ON THE PLANET, and it blocks me every time. Bloons 2 is just a monkey throwing darts at balloons to pop them to complete the level. WHY IS THAT BLOCKED? Sure it is a game, and may distract students, but REALLY? That CHILDISH of a game is BLOCKED? And then, I see Bloons 2 on www.newgrounds.com. Newgrounds.com has some very explicit material (even ADULT VIDEOS AND GAMES!!!), and they don't block it. I don't understand how they don't block such an explicit website. The filter doesn't catch it for these things, which newgrounds has: normal Games, normal videos, and then it has VERY Pornographic Videos/Games. Like for example, not going to tell you what it is or is about, just going to say the name. High Tail Hall. If you want to see this for yourself, type it in on google, or newgrounds, and...well...Play it. And yet, the filter doesn't catch THAT? The filter does NOT filter newgrounds, even though it should be caught on these things: Beastiality, Porn, Games, Violence, etc etc etc.

     

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  38.  
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    Kylie, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 12:35pm

    Really?

    REALLY?! Blocking Google because the government/schools cannot spy on what is being searched? Wow. That REALLY shows how over the top people go. Internet Filters, in my opinion, are worthless. No filter at home, so what is the friggin point? The kids can EASILY go to a friends house, OR EVEN IF THEY DON'T HAVE A COMPUTER, USE A PS3! (It has an internet browser, IF they even have a PS3 that is able to be connected to the internet.) I really really REALLY do NOT understand why schools block so many websites. Like right now. I've been trying to search for Bloons 2, the most NON-INAPPROPRIATE ON THE PLANET, and it blocks me every time. Bloons 2 is just a monkey throwing darts at balloons to pop them to complete the level. WHY IS THAT BLOCKED? Sure it is a game, and may distract students, but REALLY? That CHILDISH of a game is BLOCKED? And then, I see Bloons 2 on www.newgrounds.com. Newgrounds.com has some very explicit material (even ADULT VIDEOS AND GAMES!!!), and they don't block it. I don't understand how they don't block such an explicit website. The filter doesn't catch it for these things, which newgrounds has: normal Games, normal videos, and then it has VERY Pornographic Videos/Games. Like for example, not going to tell you what it is or is about, just going to say the name. High Tail Hall. If you want to see this for yourself, type it in on google, or newgrounds, and...well...Play it. And yet, the filter doesn't catch THAT? The filter does NOT filter newgrounds, even though it should be caught on these things: Beastiality, Porn, Games, Violence, etc etc etc.

     

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  39.  
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    Kylie, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Really?

    Sorry! Didn't mean to double post, I just refreshed my browser and sent the data again...Didn't know it would post twice...But anyway. It blocks Bloons 2, but not SAS Zombie Assault 2? Killing endless hordes of zombies?

     

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