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Author Topic: "The More You Use Google, the More Google Knows about you"  (Read 14843 times)
kartal
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« on: April 09, 2010, 09:42:35 PM »

Quote
Total Information Awareness: The More You Use Google, the More Google Knows About You

April 9, 2010  | 
 
 
In June 2007, Privacy International, a U.K.-based privacy rights watch- dog, cited Google as the worst privacy offender among 23 online companies, ranking the “Don’t Be Evil” people below Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, eBay, LinkedIn, Facebook and AOL. According to the report, no other company was “coming close to achieving [Google’s] status as an endemic threat to privacy.” What most disturbed the authors was Google’s “increasing ability to deep-drill into the minutiae of a user’s life and lifestyle choices.” The result: “the most onerous privacy environment on the Internet.”


http://www.alternet.org/m...e_google_knows_about_you_
« Last Edit: April 09, 2010, 09:44:08 PM by kartal » Logged
zridling
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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2010, 10:26:16 PM »

So the answer is, stop using Google? If so, you're cutting yourself off from a lot of the web. And contrary to the article, Google does not own your content. Point is, if your current computing consists of interacting with a big corporation, you're pretty much screwed.  Lots of "could be's" and "cans" in the article. Yet it's still a fair treatment by the author. Trust no one.
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2010, 08:50:59 AM »

So the answer is, stop using Google?

I think the answer is don't blindly use Google without taking precautions. Depending on how private a person you are a few simple steps could improve your level of privacy when it comes to Google.

1. Delete Google's cookies on your computer regularly.
2. Minimize your activity on Google's sites while logged in to GMail & other Google services.
3. Use something like the TACO or Ghostery Firefox extensions to block GoogleAnalytics.
4. If Google's search engine is all you use then consider using Scroogle instead.

You don't have to cut yourself off from the web. You just need to practice a little diligence just like when visiting any internet site. And no, Google does not own your content. However, they catalog & digest it all. Don't let Gramma send you her top secret chocolate chip cookie recipe through GMail.  Wink
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« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2010, 12:27:51 PM »

The thing about being online is generally speaking *someone* is going to know about you. If you use a different search engine to avoid Google tracking, then Bing/Yahoo or someone else will know about you instead. And quite frankly I'd rather Google have that info than Microsoft. They've proven over 10 years to be a lot more friendly to my personal philosophies than MS or many other big companies.

I think there are two legitimate concerns here. 1: consolidation of lots of informatio in one place. Yes, this is a *potential* problem - the question is how the information is used. Google seems to be one of the more reasonable in this regard, never spamming me, never (so far) selling my info to other companies in a way that identifies me, basically I'm never affected *negatively* by how Google uses my info. That leads to point 2, which is even though Google (IMHO) doesn't abuse its information now, there is always the possibility in the future that it will, or (perhaps more likely) that it will fall on hard times (maybe due to a coming advertising crash?) and then will sell more identifiable data to stay affloat. I don't consider this scenario to be extremely likely, but it is a legitimate concern.

The thing is, when *I* think about any of these possibilities, well it just doesn't concern me much. I guess maybe I don't have a lot to hide, but that's not reason enough alone not to be worried, of course. I just look at Google's business history, and at the general Internet environment, and I feel that *if* I choose to participate in the Internet at all, short of being a chronic "Anonymous Coward" (Slashdot cheesy), I really have little choice but to let people know a bit about me, what I do, where I go. And you know what? I think it's a reasonable trade-off for what I get in return, especially when the company in question is - so far - pretty surprisingly "good".

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kartal
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« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2010, 07:07:08 PM »

So the answer is, stop using Google? If so, you're cutting yourself off from a lot of the web. And contrary to the article, Google does not own your content. Point is, if your current computing consists of interacting with a big corporation, you're pretty much screwed.  Lots of "could be's" and "cans" in the article. Yet it's still a fair treatment by the author. Trust no one.

It is about awareness and being smart about your choices. Many people are not ready to understand the complications of such concentration of data at this point. Most would regard this concerns as ungrounded, what is ungrounded is their lack of proper understanding of how this all works. That is why it is always a good thing to read different points of views and have educated ideas about what is going on.

Google or not Google, I do not give a damn. I can live without Google or Internet but Google cannot live without users and Internet and this should be  an empowering point for the consumers of the online existence.

I personally do not use anything google. Only time I need Google is when I need to dig through couple technical groups on Google groups and that is not something they have built themselves! As usual they have bought it and claim ownership as in Dejanews, which is generally what I need from Google. Even so it is not a big deal I can always find an answer to my technical research somewhere else.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2010, 07:22:23 PM by kartal » Logged
app103
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« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2010, 01:26:42 AM »

You know that little tag on your keychain for your local supermarket? The one where they have your name and address on file, associated with the barcode on that keytag? The one where you can't get anything on sale at the sale price unless you give the cashier the tag to scan? The one where they know all your buying habits at their store?

They know everything you buy, how much, how often, what time of the day you like to shop, what day of the week you like to shop.

And if you buy too many plastic sandwich bags too often, the cops may show up at your door with a search warrant, to look for drugs. (it has happened to people already)

Do you remember any sort of privacy policy when you filled out the form for that little key tag? I don't remember one. They don't tell you what data they are collecting about you or what they are doing with it, who they are selling it to, sharing it with, or anything else.

And we don't only have a bunch of Big Brothers watching us, we got a ton of Little Brothers too.

What about the average person on the street with a camera in their mobile phone? Are they snapping pics of you, uploading them to social networks, and making remarks about you? I have seen profiles of guys that do this, snapping pics of women they see on the street, uploading them and tagging them with rather rude/crude captions. And then those pics get indexed by Google and a bunch of other search engines. Then there is the bunch of people that use Google image search to find pics for their blog posts, web sites, school projects, etc. How many people could potentially end up with that pic, using your likeness in ways you would never approve of, and you don't even know the image exists?

In this modern day and age, privacy is an illusion. The only real privacy you have is in your mind (and only as long as you keep your thoughts in there and don't let them out)
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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2010, 01:30:27 AM »

     Minds may change when you read Googles small print.
     My take is, that is exactly what Google knows you WON'T do.  "Analytics" is a nice way of saying what I was taught was "back end" data.

     Props for Google for shifting the privacy baseline.

     Props to kartal for keeping it real.
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2010, 09:27:49 AM »

Do you remember any sort of privacy policy when you filled out the form for that little key tag? I don't remember one. They don't tell you what data they are collecting about you or what they are doing with it, who they are selling it to, sharing it with, or anything else.

No, I don't remember there being a privacy policy when I signed up for mine. I don't remember the form saying I had to put down my real information so I made everything up & the cashier happily took it without checking my identification.  Cool

Quote
In this modern day and age, privacy is an illusion. The only real privacy you have is in your mind (and only as long as you keep your thoughts in there and don't let them out)

True, there is a lot less personal privacy in today's world than there used to be, but what we do have we don't have to give up without a fight.
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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2010, 09:36:16 AM »

     Minds may change when you read Googles small print.
     My take is, that is exactly what Google knows you WON'T do.  "Analytics" is a nice way of saying what I was taught was "back end" data.

People think just because a form is put in front of them on the internet or at the grocery store (for those discount cards) that we are legally bound to answer the information truthfully. They are just forms, people, put before you trying to get you to disclose personal identifiable information so they can track you & what you do.

All these people who hand over their private lives to FaceBook & Google...if a stranger came up to them on the street and asked for their name, where they lived, and other personal questions, would they disclose the answers freely?

I know everyone's privacy rights are eroding, but just because 'they' want to know everything about you doesn't mean you have to help them by telling your personal info to any & all who ask for it.
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« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2010, 10:14:17 AM »

Am I the only one here who does not have a problem with Google at all? I mean, I visit websites every day that log lots of information about me without me even knowing it. As a web server administrator, I know just how much you can learn about someone just by them visiting your webpage and clicking around. I am not saying you shouldn't fight for privacy rights, but is someone knowing that I shop for books by Charlaine Harris for my wife really going to be a big privacy concern? Does the fact that they know I bought Milk, Eggs, Condoms and a book at walmart really impact my life? Has anyone proven that any of these companies are using your data for malicious purposes? If you are worried about people finding out about you online, I really feel sites like Facebook, Myspace and twitter prove to be far more harmful to your privacy than Google knowing I searched for "George Carlin Used Underwear" (NOT A REAL SEARCH I PERFORMED!).
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« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2010, 10:33:36 AM »

IMO this:

Quote
People think just because a form is put in front of them on the internet or at the grocery store (for those discount cards) that we are legally bound to answer the information truthfully. They are just forms, people, put before you trying to get you to disclose personal identifiable information so they can track you & what you do.

Is a more worthwhile lesson to warn people about than saying Google has your privacy.

Not only is it much harder to cover up your anonymity especially because you can't exactly double check your worm trail unless you're a hacker but some businesses who need networking need that information.

Personally I knew that online because I surf but if I just casually joined any sites, I wouldn't know that. Especially with forms but that's because I don't know much about the law...but most people don't either.

No one really knows which form should be legally respected and which shouldn't.

It also makes you come off like a tinfoil hat wearing freak because people warn about "Google" and don't warn about the hazards of "forms" per se.
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« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2010, 10:37:20 AM »

Am I the only one here who does not have a problem with Google at all? I mean, I visit websites every day that log lots of information about me without me even knowing it. As a web server administrator, I know just how much you can learn about someone just by them visiting your webpage and clicking around. I am not saying you shouldn't fight for privacy rights, but is someone knowing that I shop for books by Charlaine Harris for my wife really going to be a big privacy concern? Does the fact that they know I bought Milk, Eggs, Condoms and a book at walmart really impact my life? Has anyone proven that any of these companies are using your data for malicious purposes? If you are worried about people finding out about you online, I really feel sites like Facebook, Myspace and twitter prove to be far more harmful to your privacy than Google knowing I searched for "George Carlin Used Underwear" (NOT A REAL SEARCH I PERFORMED!).

I sort of agree but I wouldn't go as far as saying no problem to Google.

Remember you're thinking Google "Search" alone. Google also has Gmail, Gdoc and they're working their way to Twitter, Facebook and Myspace...they just keep failing.

The big elephant in the room though is Google Maps/Earth and address finder. That's where it becomes shades of grey especially since Google is opening up the worm hole for a government to force Google to show certain data. (although it's not so much the government can't nowadays but it's a nice feeling to have the internet pie and eat it anonymously too)
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app103
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« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2010, 11:19:14 AM »

No, I don't remember there being a privacy policy when I signed up for mine. I don't remember the form saying I had to put down my real information so I made everything up & the cashier happily took it without checking my identification.  Cool

The one for the store I use most often also comes with check cashing privileges, so not only did the info I gave them have to match what is printed on my checks, I had to show them photo ID to prove it was mine.

I am not saying you shouldn't fight for privacy rights, but is someone knowing that I shop for books by Charlaine Harris for my wife really going to be a big privacy concern? Does the fact that they know I bought Milk, Eggs, Condoms and a book at walmart really impact my life? Has anyone proven that any of these companies are using your data for malicious purposes? If you are worried about people finding out about you online, I really feel sites like Facebook, Myspace and twitter prove to be far more harmful to your privacy than Google knowing I searched for "George Carlin Used Underwear" (NOT A REAL SEARCH I PERFORMED!).

I got over the privacy issues in my head a long time ago and accepted the truth for what it really is. I am not worried about the normal stuff, like Google knowing my searches and the supermarket knowing what I buy, it's when that info is given to the wrong parties that assume incorrectly that the info means something it doesn't, that worries me.

As far as malicious purposes, that's a matter of opinion and perspective. Sometimes the companies you are trusting with this info have no choice in the matter. The law requires them to give the info to certain government entities.

I am sure the woman that bought a ton of plastic bags at her local supermarket because she was making sandwiches for the homeless didn't appreciate the cops showing up at her house with a search warrant looking for drugs. (don't you know only drug dealers use large quantities of plastic bags?) The fact that she also bought a large quantity of bread, bologna, and cheese completely slipped past them at the time.

And we all know that the Patriot Act made the books you read a matter of national security. You don't remember the reports of the librarians shredding records in order to protect the privacy and 1st Amendment rights of their patrons? Before the law was amended, it gave the FBI the right to conduct a fishing expedition into any library's records, without having any suspicions about any particular individuals.
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« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2010, 12:35:03 PM »

The one for the store I use most often also comes with check cashing privileges, so not only did the info I gave them have to match what is printed on my checks, I had to show them photo ID to prove it was mine.

I can see your point there. I had forgotten about check cashing privileges as the only checks I ever write any more are to pay my water bill and fortunately, I've heard that soon I'll be able to pay even that bill online & my checkbook will just sit and gather dust.

[/quote]I am sure the woman that bought a ton of plastic bags at her local supermarket because she was making sandwiches for the homeless didn't appreciate the cops showing up at her house with a search warrant looking for drugs.[/quote]

I'm sure the authorities also scan people's buying habits to see if they are buying any of the ingredients known to be used to manufacture drugs (meth and the like) as well.



Quote
The fact that she also bought a large quantity of bread, bologna, and cheese completely slipped past them at the time.

The authorities probably just thought she had a major case of the munchies.  cheesy

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« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2010, 01:01:05 PM »

i'm with Josh. i'm more worried about my own government (UK) than google. also, i'm sure i read something recently that said it isn't such a great problem for your computer to be profiled as an entirely unique machine, unique to you and your life online - something that would easily betray you if you really were going to be investigated - it didn't sound like there was much of a way to avoid this other than to stop going online. i know i ought to remember the details, and i'm sure it's not news to many on this forum. it just made me realise there were other ways of tracking internet users regardless of the walls we might try and hide behind. (maybe what i read was just a scare story.)
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« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2010, 01:29:41 PM »

In this modern day and age, privacy is an illusion. The only real privacy you have is in your mind (and only as long as you keep your thoughts in there and don't let them out)


Not necessarily. You have freedom to not to use those check cards, not use google or bing or any other. But again these solutions are not real solution really. On the other hand accepting that loss of privacy is a reality of life is exactly what has been wanted by the corporations, goverments etc.

As I said in previous posts, the issues surrounding these topics have dire consequences and very very complicated power issues in the upcoming years and centuries, not just for individuals but also for societies, cultures, languages, philosophy, art, literature, animals and the nature. This is a big ethical fog that is surrounding people minds.

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« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2010, 01:49:34 PM »

Not necessarily. You have freedom to not to use those check cards, not use google or bing or any other. But again these solutions are not real solution really. On the other hand accepting that loss of privacy is a reality of life is exactly what has been wanted by the corporations, goverments etc.

Unless you have your own trunk into the internet, you can't get around the fact that your ISP has all of the information about you that anyone could ever want.  You might argue that the information won't be used/used in a negative manner... but aren't we arguing what if's against Google?
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« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2010, 01:56:36 PM »

To me, Google is only one of the issues. Google problem should treated as
Google alikes, Google does represent a set of problems that would be created
by companies that are in similar business and interests. I know some people
get mad because Google is always in the front. Google is just a
representational name, and for a reason it is always in the front line.

Remember just couple weeks ago because of Google`s threat of pulling out, Chinese and American
goverments exchanged serious words, so as you can see Google is such a pivotal
entity for US goverment that, the US goverment has saw great interests in
interests of Google in China.

If we have alot of informed and educated(I do not mean people with degrees)
people around the world, goverments and big corporations will feel more
constraint around their intentions
« Last Edit: April 11, 2010, 01:59:04 PM by kartal » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2010, 02:03:39 PM »

That's wrong and tinfoil hat thinking IMO.

You can't treat non-Google problems as Google problems or you'll fall flat into correlating causation.

It's also cult-breeding behaviour to rely on an "invisible" enemy.

There should be no "representational" name. It should be always about facts or at least better pattern recognition beyond paranoic stereotypes.

Also it's mistaken to think informed and educated people are the key. That's one necessity but if you're fighting an enemy built from invisibility then you're fighting a symbol and not actually doing enough to hurt corporations and corruption.

Some people may be informed about a certain subject and they may be educated but they also create elitist roadblocks that turn people away. Just look at Stallman and FOSS. The ideal and education is probably there and he made it into a reality that many people know but how many intelligent and informed people ends up switching to say...Chromium because it justifies their convenience while still preserving their ideology?
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kartal
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« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2010, 02:14:18 PM »

Most of your argumens fall flat on a marble floor, because what you are telling me about my own words are not proper represantation of what I am saying.

First of all there is no "invisible enemy". Second there is no "enemy"

Google is up there and running a massive business, controlling what internet should be, what people should do on the internet. Google also does affect people`s desicions, since most of people`s daily desicions have started relying on daily internet searches. Now you can see how powerful this medium is. One can argue that Google does rely on page rankings, but the thing is that how do you know their algorithms are pure and has no skew? Sure enough no one can analyze their codes to see what is going on behind. And when time comes Google will choose to block certain results or show unranked results for this reason or that reason, say because goverments want, or because there is some money involved in with some search keywords and search display results

To me there is only one real short term solution and that is an open source, distributed, uncontrolled, non tracking, open search engine. A search engine that does not keep massive database about visitors, a search engine that does not do anything else beside seaching. Sure enough this search engine should never be controlled by anyone or anything. And if you think that this is tinfoil hat thinking and it is an unreasonable paranoia solution then I really do not have much else to contribute to conversation.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2010, 02:36:09 PM by kartal » Logged
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« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2010, 02:34:52 PM »

To me there is only one real short term solution and that is an open source, distributed, uncontrolled, non tracking, open search engine.

Very good idea. The only problem is that until somebody steps up and offers to provide and pay for such technology (and with no strings attached) it isn't going to happen.

And you can absolutely forget about involving any government on the planet with something you want to be genuinely transparent and open.

And even if you somehow do manage to build this system, how do you prevent whoever is administrating it from cheating? Despite all their safeguards, even financial and highly classified military systems have their hackers, moles, and 'insider cabals.' And many go undetected for years.

Back in first century Rome, the poet Juvenal asked: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

I don't believe basic human nature has changed very much since he first asked that question.


Just my two cents


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kartal
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« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2010, 02:40:04 PM »

It is possible

Firefox made into a somewhat stable semi non profit corporation from donations, Wikipedia managed to grew steadily. Although both has started getting massive donations from Google recenty.

If people have managed to write an operating system like Linux on mostly voluntering basis, if people let their cpus run for searching for aliens then it is possible to create an open search engine.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2010, 02:42:20 PM by kartal » Logged
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« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2010, 02:55:07 PM »

Most of your argumens fall flat on a marble floor, because what you are telling me about my own words are not proper represantation of what I am saying.

First of all there is no "invisible enemy". Second there is no "enemy"

When has an invisible enemy ever been called an invisible enemy? That's why I later replaced it with your words: "representational name"

There is no enemy?

Again, here's a piece of what you said:

Quote
Google is just a
representational name, and for a reason it is always in the front line.

Onelook: http://www.onelook.com/?w=front+line&ls=a

front line: the line along which opposing armies face each other

There has to be a line between proper representation and falling flat on the marble floor.

Quote
Sure enough this search engine should never be controlled by anyone or anything. And if you think that this is tinfoil hat thinking and it is an unreasonable paranoia solution then I really do not have much else to contribute to conversation.

You said: "what you are telling me about my own words are not proper represantation of what I am saying."

Please apply those same considerations to mine.
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app103
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« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2010, 03:03:12 PM »

To me there is only one real short term solution and that is an open source, distributed, uncontrolled, non tracking, open search engine. A search engine that does not keep massive database about visitors, a search engine that does not do anything else beside seaching. Sure enough this search engine should never be controlled by anyone or anything. And if you think that this is tinfoil hat thinking and it is an unreasonable paranoia solution then I really do not have much else to contribute to conversation.

Yes, but being open means open to all the spammers to see the code as well, and that leaves them free to manipulate things externally to get better ranking on your open search engine. It would quickly become worthless and poisoned by massive amounts of spam. No control puts the blackhat SEO spammers in full control.
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« Reply #24 on: April 11, 2010, 03:07:28 PM »


Onelook: http://www.onelook.com/?w=front+line&ls=a

front line: the line along which opposing armies face each other

There has to be a line between proper representation and falling flat on the marble floor.

Well, if you have taken my word in that context I cannot blame you. But the way I have used is not the way you have quoted. "Front line" is the one that is in the front of the line, no militarist connotation there for me.

If you think that an invisible enemy cannot exists in real life because it is invisible, that creates an oxymoron for the argument. Since it is invisible I cannot even myself deny the non existence of the invisible enemy since it is invisible and impenetrable. Also you have assumed that I have illogical unreal paranoia sunken ideas about facts about google and internet, that tries to put me in a position where my claims are not even credible. In reality I am none of those and have no interest in the game of oxymoron tactics.

The fact is that when I say there is no invisible enemy I am flat denying any existence of any form of enemy. Google is a concern to me not enemy. I hope this makes it clear.

« Last Edit: April 11, 2010, 03:35:28 PM by kartal » Logged
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