Is Google Search Privacy An Issue?
from the calm-down-everyone dept
Comments on “Is Google Search Privacy An Issue?”
More concerned with TIA monitoring
I’d be more concerned with some agency tracking who is searching for what, like “anthrax” or “ebola” or “plutonium”.
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People get cookies and trojens mixed up. Sure, cookies across a network of several dozen sites could theorectically invade your privecey on some miniscule level, but nothing big enough to notice. Trojens on the other hand are a lot more dangerous. I cought one the other day which generated so many popups with IE, that it crashed my computer system. Luckily, I was able to disable the key logger part of it, although I could never quite figure out what DLL is was using. This is a growing problem to those of us who know what they are doing, but a confusing and frustrating one to those that dont. Education is probably the safest bet here…
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Much of the Google backlash I’ve seen is related to the following assertions:
-Google can use localization techniques to provide each user with a customized search based on where they are. In theory, they could provide users with a search based on the browser they are accessing Google with. This provides them with enormous power (the ability to turn on and off portions of the Internet at a regional and individual level).
-Google could theoretically be used as a “wire-tap”, except unlike a wire-tap, once the information is accessed, historical information reaching back 35 years would be available. Sure, the information is not personally identifiable. But it is possible to trace a path from the Google cookie to the account that was used, which often will result in being able to narrow down the person significantly.
Having followed this debate rather closely, I think this article rather oversimplifies the questions raised.
The real issue is that Google has managed to accumulate an enormous amount of power and have also developped the tools necessary to harness that power. Furthermore, the sale of information gathered is a vital part of their business model. Although Google has never abused their information, the fact that they *could* has made many people nervous.
If Google were smart, rather than pooh-poohing the concerns raised, they would address them. So far, I think their strategy has been rather poor public relations.
One big piece of ammunition used by the paranoia camp is the fact that Google’s cookie lasts for 35 years. I’ve never seen any commentary from Google as to why 35 years is necessary (and I suspect it isn’t…) A plausible explanation and/or shortening the period of the cookie would go a long way towards making the backlash camp happier.
Removing the “phone home” and silent updating of their browser tool bar would also silence many critics.
The sky is falling....
There is a popular myth that Americans are concerned about their privacy. Statistically they are not, but they DO like to talk about it. In the 21st century your privacy ‘default’ is zero and it you want more you must create it yourself and nurture it.
Google is very good at what they do but they are NOT in the privacy business.