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Last post Author Topic: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)  (Read 7581 times)

40hz

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Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« on: February 19, 2012, 07:25:00 AM »
Yet another jive move on the part of Google was reported in the February 17th edition of the Wall Street Journal. Since the WSJ doesn't allow quoting of their articles without permission you'll need to go here to read it.

Seems Google (and by extension it's advertisers) has been caught by a researcher over at Stanford using code that deliberately circumvents and overrides the privacy settings on iPhone's Safari browser in order to allow tracking of a user's browsing habits.

4Monks.jpg

Cory Doctorow (he's on a roll this week) did an excellent article on this. Since BoingBoing does allow quoting their articles, here's an excerpt:

Quote
iPhone security, tracking users who opted out of third-party cookies

By Cory Doctorow at 7:13 am Friday, Feb 17

Google has been caught circumventing iOS's built-in anti-ad-tracking features in order to add Google Plus functionality within iPhone's Safari browser. The WSJ reports that Google overrode users' privacy settings in order to allow messages like "your friend Suzy +1'ed this ad about candy" to be relayed between Google's different domains, including google.com and doubleclick.net. This also meant that doubleclick.net was tracking every page you landed on with a Doubleclick ad, even if you'd opted out of its tracking.

I believe that Google has created an enormous internal urgency about Google Plus integration, and that this pressure is leading the company to take steps to integrate G+ at the expense of the quality of its other services. Consider the Focus on the User critique of Google's "social ranking" in search results, for example. In my own life, I've been immensely frustrated that my unpublished Gmail account (which I only use to anchor my Android Marketplace purchases for my phone and tablets, and to receive a daily schedule email while I'm travelling) has somehow become visible to G+ users, so that I get many, many G+ updates and invites to this theoretically private address, every day, despite never having opted into a directory and never having joined G+.

In the iPhone case, it's likely that Google has gone beyond lowering the quality of its service for its users and customers, and has now started to violate the law, and certainly to undermine the trust that the company depends on. This is much more invasive than the time Google accidentally captured some WiFi traffic and didn't do anything with it, much more invasive than Google taking pictures of publicly visible buildings -- both practices that drew enormous and enduring criticism at the expense of the company's global credibility. I wonder if this will cause the company to slow its full-court press to make G+ part of every corner of Google.
.
.
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Read Cory's full article here


Innuendo

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2012, 10:45:14 AM »
For years people have been looking at me like I'm wearing a tin foil hat whenever I have stated we shouldn't blindly trust Google to always do the right thing.

Sweet vindication really does taste sweet. :)

40hz

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2012, 01:03:37 PM »

Sweet vindication really does taste sweet. :)

+1. But it's a very bitter-sweetness. I would rather I had been completely wrong about them. 

Hmm...maybe we need a tinfoil hat forum badge?

Let's ask Mouser!

@Mouser - can we get a member forum badge for 'skeptics and cynics without honor'? And let it be a tinfoil hat?
 ;D :Thmbsup:

wraith808

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2012, 02:08:03 PM »
OT
For years people have been looking at me like I'm wearing a tin foil hat whenever I have stated we shouldn't blindly trust Google to always do the right thing.

"Trust, but Verify."

Which is what many people don't do, but counter blind trust with calls that there *must* be something wrong... ;)


superboyac

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2012, 05:31:01 PM »

Sweet vindication really does taste sweet. :)

+1. But it's a very bitter-sweetness. I would rather I had been completely wrong about them. 

Hmm...maybe we need a tinfoil hat forum badge?

Let's ask Mouser!

@Mouser - can we get a member forum badge for 'skeptics and cynics without honor'? And let it be a tinfoil hat?
 ;D :Thmbsup:
:( And just yesterday I posted that I felt Google was still one of the good guys.

Innuendo

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2012, 10:33:30 AM »
I think Google is very much still on the side of good, but like most large organizations their collective weight is making it ever more difficult to keep from slipping down that slippery slope.

This isn't their first "Oops! My bad!" moment in recent memory.

EDIT: And I wanna tin foil hat forum badge! :D

Stoic Joker

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2012, 11:15:25 AM »
EDIT: And I wanna tin foil hat forum badge!

Oh hell yes! Sign me up too!

Josh

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2012, 11:31:00 AM »
Am I the only person here who looks at this and says...."So what?"

Stoic Joker

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2012, 11:44:23 AM »
Am I the only person here who looks at this and says...."So what?"

That depends. If looked at as Google is screwing people in general, then I find that troubling. However... If looked at as Google is screwing people with iPhones, then I think it's funny.

Is that fair? Hell no ...The line is actually irrelevant, and the behavior implies ill intent (or at least contempt) regardless ... But I gotta draw it some where ... And I've been shopping for another search provider for awhile now anyhow.

40hz

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2012, 12:11:22 PM »
Am I the only person here who looks at this and says...."So what?"

No.

And you're in good company.

Google, along with everybody else who would like you to have no real expectation of privacy, are counting on most people to feel exactly like you do.

The only problem is, people haven't thought through the full implications of what doing something like this means - and what it could be used for in the future. And once you give up legal or moral rights you formerly held, there is exactly ZERO chance of ever getting them back - no matter what yo may be told or think.

So if your feeling is "so what," about all I can say is: That will only be true until the day somebody decides to use it against you.

And don't think it can't happen. Take a look at whistle-blower laws. They provide legal prohibitions against retaliation taken by government or employers against an employee for revealing abuses of power or other criminal acts.

Problem is - it isn't enforced worth a damn any more.

And people don't really seem to care.

So guess what happens any time some employee goes to the government with information about their company or agency that leads to criminal prosecution and conviction?

The employee almost always gets fired, demoted, transferred, or harassed out of a job. And often gets openly blacklisted by their former employer as much as is practically possible.  And sometimes gets a civil suit or other bogus legal action filed against them. On rare occasions, some have even been found dead under circumstances that merit a much more thorough investigation - or sometimes even just an investigation - than most receive. Truly amazing the number of suicides and single -person/no-witness driving off deserted road accidents experienced by high profile whistle-blowers. Especially government whistle-blowers.

Either way, retaliation is the name of the game.

Illegal?

You bet!

Anybody seem to feel the need to do anything about it?

Nope!

Why?

Because people seem to go along with the usual spin that gets put on whistle-blowing by those who got caught, which is: "These people should have gone to their managers (note: many tried that unsuccessfully btw) and got matters resolved internally. Anybody who tells tales out of school is nothing but a traitor to their employer and coworkers."

Such is the danger of saying *meh*  :)


J-Mac

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2012, 12:20:01 PM »
Am I the only person here who looks at this and says...."So what?"

Well, I can almost say "So what?", but two things stop me:

  • First, according to Cory on BoingBoing, this has caused some of his information that he doesn’t want found in search results to show up there. That probably isn't a "So what?" thing to anyone in that situation! Should definitely be fixed, though Google most likely doesn’t consider that broke at all.
  • Any time the company running the search engine - check that... the largest, most used search engine in the world - manipulates the search results in order to benefit themselves, I don’t think that can be good either.

Other than that.... "So what?"   :)

Jim

zridling

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2012, 02:23:05 PM »
For me, the surprise is the expectation of privacy at this point. Using acts like SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, DMCA, etc., both political parties in Washington have deep-pocketed interests in controlling the internet for corporations and regulated by the FCC. This way, we get back to the AOL/Compuserve days of the internet where -- like radio and TV -- where the only way it will be any good is if you have to pay for every little thing that's worth seeing.
1welcome-to21st-century-america.jpg
Right now, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Apple (among a few others) are determined to erect walls around their corner of the net. Congress will keep sending SOPA clones to the floor until they get one through, and then they'll "amend" the law year after year after that until the internet is just as crappy as everything else we find. Obama has already set in motion the Internet ID [PDF] idea, where law enforcement has first dibs on your ID, your location, what you're viewing, where you go, who you like, etc. It's already extremely difficult surf the web anonymously using various methods. Tin foil hat? You can fit me for one. And if you don't agree to hand your "right" to privacy (long gone), then you'll be labeled someone who aids and abets terrorists and pedophiles.

  • Free apps from Google? Only if we can use all online info for our benefit. (And if asked, we'll gladly hand it over to the police if they ask.)
  • Want friends or your business on Facebook? Only if we can rape your life; you don't own your online life, we do.
  • Want to enjoy Apple products? Only if you pay for and buy into our ecosystem completely. No questions asked.

Everything good seems to get turned to shit, mostly because of corporations or jerks like the US or Chinese governments. I have to go now. I think I hear the FBI breaking down the door.

superboyac

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2012, 02:32:43 PM »
For me, the surprise is the expectation of privacy at this point. Using acts like SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, DMCA, etc., both political parties in Washington have deep-pocketed interests in controlling the internet for corporations and regulated by the FCC. This way, we get back to the AOL/Compuserve days of the internet where -- like radio and TV -- where the only way it will be any good is if you have to pay for every little thing that's worth seeing.  (see attachment in previous post)Right now, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Apple (among a few others) are determined to erect walls around their corner of the net. Congress will keep sending SOPA clones to the floor until they get one through, and then they'll "amend" the law year after year after that until the internet is just as crappy as everything else we find. Obama has already set in motion the Internet ID [PDF] idea, where law enforcement has first dibs on your ID, your location, what you're viewing, where you go, who you like, etc. It's already extremely difficult surf the web anonymously using various methods. Tin foil hat? You can fit me for one. And if you don't agree to hand your "right" to privacy (long gone), then you'll be labeled someone who aids and abets terrorists and pedophiles.

  • Free apps from Google? Only if we can use all online info for our benefit. (And if asked, we'll gladly hand it over to the police if they ask.)
  • Want friends or your business on Facebook? Only if we can rape your life; you don't own your online life, we do.
  • Want to enjoy Apple products? Only if you pay for and buy into our ecosystem completely. No questions asked.

Everything good seems to get turned to shit, mostly because of corporations or jerks like the US or Chinese governments. I have to go now. I think I hear the FBI breaking down the door.
Amen, brutha.

rgdot

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2012, 03:57:39 PM »
As I have before, I will post this same line periodically until mouser bans me:

Still it's us, yes us, who are voting for these people and refusing 'alternatives' and 'third parties' with a convenient excuse that either 'they will become the same' or the perhaps worse 'other options will never be viable'.

IainB

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2012, 04:10:46 PM »
Still it's us, yes us, who are voting for these people and refusing 'alternatives' and 'third parties' with a convenient excuse that either 'they will become the same' or the perhaps worse 'other options will never be viable'.
Yes, there is some truth in the statement that "People get the government they vote for, and thus deserve."

As an edit, I have just posted this into the review:
EDIT: 2012-02-18 0026hrs
Quote
Google Circumvents Safari Privacy Protections - This is Why We Need Do Not Track
A signal weakness of the DNT+ approach would seem to be that it relies on trust, and that trust has apparently already been breached by Google in the case of the Safari browser's DNT approach.

DNT+ is a bit like that tinfoil hat referred to in this thread, but it will likely only be effective in the short term, because the longer term has apparently already been planned out for us:
Well, this ARS Technica article seems like quite a good summary of how ACTA forms what looks rather like just a part of a decades-long subterfuge to wrap up "intellectual property" and copyright as an American asset: ACTA is part of a multi-decade, worldwide copyright campaign
(Go to the article, which contains embedded links, and the user comments are worth reading. The spoiler below contains just the text.) This would seem to be the ideology of capitalism in a serious play for position over the long haul, and there's probably not a damned thing you can do about it.

Innuendo

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2012, 04:37:34 PM »
Still it's us, yes us, who are voting for these people and refusing 'alternatives' and 'third parties' with a convenient excuse that either 'they will become the same' or the perhaps worse 'other options will never be viable'.

In theory, that's exactly what we should do! In practice, however, at least in the United States anyway, the only difference between Politician A and Politician B (and C and D and E, etc.) are what each promises to do once they are elected. After they've won, they do everything the same way as their predecessor did.

Obama promised change...what I didn't know is that was what he was promising is change is all that would be left in my pockets.

kyrathaba

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2012, 09:11:25 PM »
I predict that when Congress finally does Trojan Horse its SHITTA act through, and into law, the most brilliant of the tech-brilliant will come up with a resounding reply in some form of darknet. I, for one, will be supporting them.

mahesh2k

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2012, 01:00:59 AM »
There are many cases going against them.

Google vs Mocality
Google penalized for pharma ads
Google trolling by buying companies with patents
Google forcing privacy policy changes
Discontinued products where they had no chance to gain public information
Bypassing ghostery and ABP

What I find funny is that, journalists from gigaom and other tech news sites are still praising google for whatevery crap they drop. I was checking post from labnol on this issue and i found one comment funny - "bank employees check out accounts often, what's wrong if google does it on their servers". Just because they can doesn't mean we should give them freedom to do manipulate. Tomorrow, what's wrong if we install cam in mall's changing room, bedroom, bathroom? Hey, it's to protect you from some threat. isn't it? I think corporate and government brainwashing is so thick, people are not aware of that where things are wrong and what are their rights.

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2012, 07:34:32 AM »
As I have before, I will post this same line periodically until mouser bans me:

Still it's us, yes us, who are voting for these people and refusing 'alternatives' and 'third parties' with a convenient excuse that either 'they will become the same' or the perhaps worse 'other options will never be viable'.

I have a theory that the flaw in the system is still that people DO get to vote, *for now*, and except for a few shenanigans, those votes are actually counted sorta-correctly, aka not just thrown in the trash. (Side question: Would we still have all this junk if Gore had won the messed up 2000 Hanging Chad campaign? Is that where the Alternate Universe started?)

It's a huge variant of the Prisoner's Dilemma game. We can't (yet!) coordinate ourselves to properly deliver a third party into office and Congress. But we will, *once*. Then we'd get exactly one chance to fix as much as we can before the rabid hounds, beyond livid with apoplectic fury, just cheat and flip a switch and declare martial law and get it over with.

It would be beautiful. "Motion to cancel ACTA. House?" "Passed." "Senate?" "Passed". "Mr. President?" "Signed." "NEXT!"
"Motion to limit the status of Corps as People." "Passed" "Passed" "Signed". "NEXT!"
"Motion to grant generous Fair Use Rights." "Passed." "Passed" "Signed." "NEXT!"

Just drill through 1000 Ultra-Tracked bills to fix 15 years of crap. Then put a rider-lock that says "Reversing these measures will require a constitutional amendment. Adjourned."

40hz

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2012, 07:54:42 AM »
(Side question: Would we still have all this junk if Gore had won the messed up 2000 Hanging Chad campaign? Is that where the Alternate Universe started?)

Probably. You had election officials in Florida very obviously trying to influence if not swing the vote. The Republicans were more interested in winning the election than in following the will of the voters, so the State of Florida resorted to every delaying technicality possible to delay verifications in order to run out the clock and force the election (under law) to be declared by the secretary.

To their mind there was little risk in doing so. If Bush won, they could argue it was resolved in a manner in accordance with Florida's byzantine election laws. If they lost, they could accuse the Democrats of "stealing the presidency" and very likely galvanize enough party support to stonewall or otherwise neutralize Gore's ability to do anything if he did become president.

When this started to stink a little too much, (even the Supreme Court did some uncharacteristic backpedalling after the fact when it became clear the pubic was outraged by their decision) the Republicans immediately pulled the "You're Another" propaganda technique by automatically calling many elections, where Democrats won by a narrow margin, as being "fraudulent." Often with nothing to back up the accusation.

There's a danger to crying "wolf" about voter fraud however. The end effect was that the Republicans stripped whatever former sanctity there was from the election process. And this tactic was repeated so many times following Gore's defeat that many Americans are now deeply suspicious of any election result.

So yes. That's where this post-2K alternate reality began IMHO. :-\

rgdot

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2012, 08:39:30 AM »
The Florida story is a good example of how 'ordinary' people are the tools of the system and a part of the problem. The problem is people, in America in this case, love to pretend to love democracy but don't come close to practicing it. Even if all other options are questionable you can't spend dozens of election cycles switching back and forth between only 2 and then hope everything will be ok.

wraith808

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2012, 10:44:15 AM »
The Florida story is a good example of how 'ordinary' people are the tools of the system and a part of the problem. The problem is people, in America in this case, love to pretend to love democracy but don't come close to practicing it. Even if all other options are questionable you can't spend dozens of election cycles switching back and forth between only 2 and then hope everything will be ok.

The one thing about FL and the reason that it's not as big a to-do as people make of what happened there (whatever happened)... the US is not a Democracy.  It wasn't created a Democracy, and it was never intended to be a Democracy.  But most people thing it is, or pretend to Democratic principles in a framework not created for that purpose.

J-Mac

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2012, 01:23:41 PM »
The 2000 vote in Florida is still being argued as if it were yesterday! Crazy!

A few completely ironic oddities about the Florida recounts:

  • Gore was demanding a recount only of four specific counties in Florida where it was expected that a recount would greatly favor him. Fl. Secretary of State turned him down and "Certified" the results as they were reported.
  • Gore sued for the limited recount - which Bush fought against - and the Florida Supreme ruled that the entire state would be recounted - which Gore had fought against.
  • The US Supreme Court got the case and ruled that no recount would be done, making Bush president.
  • In a supreme bit of irony, the Miami Herald, Washington Post, and several other news organizations actually conducted the recounts as they had been requested. The results? If only the four counties requested by Gore had been recounted Bush would have won! And had the statewide "limited" recount that was ordered by the Florida Supreme Court been done, Gore would have won by as few as 60 votes!
So sometimes it is best to NOT get what you want!

Jim

Link to the Washington Post article about the "after-the-fact" recounts:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12623-2001Nov11.html

40hz

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2012, 02:06:09 PM »
The 2000 vote in Florida is still being argued as if it were yesterday! Crazy!


Well...it was a watershed event for American politics. And depending on which story you believe, and what side you come down on, it makes all the difference in the world.

And it has left a very bad taste in most people's mouths. Especially in the wake of the former Bush administration's almost unprecedented moves to expand executive privilege and disregard Constitutional checks and balances in the wake of 9/11. (Can you spell Gitmo?)

Where it will eventually lead.
lih01.gif


So maybe the fact people are still arguing about the 2000 election is not a bad thing. We're sometimes a little too naive about the integrity of the American political process for our own good.
 :)

superboyac

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Re: Google: Do no evil (once you're caught)
« Reply #24 on: February 21, 2012, 03:07:08 PM »
So maybe the fact people are still arguing about the 2000 election is not a bad thing. We're sometimes a little too naive about the integrity of the American political process for our own good.
 :)
AHHHH!!  Stop 40!!  Stop making me grow up!