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This 157 message thread spans 6 pages: < < 157 ( 1 2 3 4 5 [6]     
"Mr. Anti-Google"
Our own Everyman is on Salon!
GoogleGuy




msg:147007
 5:22 pm on Aug 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

Haven't seen anyone else mention it, so I thought I'd point out that our own Everyman has an article in Salon today. The story has also been mentioned on geeknews and Slashdot.

The user comments are pretty negative, so I'll try to pull the balance back the other way. I always appreciate hearing Everyman's perspective, even though we've got different views of some things, e.g. how Google ranks internal pages from a site; I think we do a good job of that. If you haven't read Everyman's "search engines and responsibility" thread and his google-watch.org site, I encourage you to. That said, I do disagree with statements like "Eventually, a FAST-type engine should be administered by a consortium of librarians who are protected civil servants of a world government." :)

Anybody have thoughts on the Salon article?

 

deltakits




msg:147157
 11:00 am on Sep 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

1) 38 year cookie policy

Maybe i'm just naive...Why do we care if it is a 38 year cookie? In my opinion, there are two parts of this...

1)If Google is NOT divulging this information, why do we care whether it's a one day or 100 year cookie? Doesn't make any difference.

2)If Google IS divulging this information, it doesn't make any difference either that it is a 38 year cookie or a 38 day cookie! It's bad either way! What am I missing?

3) Last, but the most important to me is Google's cache. Why doesn't they make caching an Opt-In (rather than Opt-out)!

My opinion is that Google feels that this is an important addition to their search engine, and if it was Opt-In, how many people are going to know enough about it to KNOW to Opt-In? Or what exactly they are Opting in TO?

Filipe




msg:147158
 3:11 pm on Sep 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

2)If Google IS divulging this information, it doesn't make any difference either that it is a 38 year cookie or a 38 day cookie! It's bad either way! What am I missing?

Part of the idea is that, rather than being able to associate your activity with you for 38 days, they are able to track your specific information for 38 years (that is of course assuming you'd be using the same computer for that long, which is a ridiculous concept - especially considering that most IE users reformat or clear out their cookies more frequently than they change computers, so the actual TTL (Time To Live) on the cookies is dramatically shortened).

It's more an argument of principle.

multex




msg:147159
 10:04 pm on Sep 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

Conspiracy theorists of the world unite -- give the rest of us something to worry about...

It's hard to know where to start sometimes. First, the cookie doesn't allow google to track anything but the LAST search, and the user preferences. That's all. Folks, it's not tracking EVERY search you made for the last 38 years, only the LAST one. And, like every other search engine, it tracks the LAST one so it can tell which page of it you want to see next -- there's no other way to handle the "next page" request in a stateless system like TCP/IP. If you don't want the feds to break into your computer and find out that you were searching for "Anthrax breeding and distribution systems for rent", then just finish your session by searching for "formal linguistic models of Nahuatl verb participles." Or, if you don't want the "next page" button to work, turn off cookies (or even, using the new browsers, turn off only Google.com cookies). This is not a problem.

Second, the idea that Google might be tracking the IP address from which every search is made: there simply isn't a rational way to address such an assertion. Probably the best response is simply to say that if you always wear your tinfoil hat AS WELL AS thimbles on each finger when you're online, the Vogons can't read your thoughts OR keystrokes.

Of course, every website you go to can track accesses (by computer). So can your ISP. So can the routers on the backbones. So can the phone company. So can your neighbor with the spycam in your den. So can the FBI. So ... why pick on Google? Do you have inside knowledge that they've been bought out by some chthulhuist cover-organization?

And has it not occurred to anyone that the very reason Google needs cookies to track the "current search information" is the reason that a detailed history of searches simply doesn't give the information that it takes to know your every move. People use anonymizers or IP mappers, or dial-up modems, or even different computers ... any wannabe-world-dictator stupid enough to expect to control the world through knowing exactly which bootleg MP3 files your children were looking for yesterday, is too stupid to worry about anyway. Fagedaboutim: and worry about something like the fact that the U.S. Congress is in session, or Bill Gates still isn't in jail.

savvy1




msg:147160
 10:23 pm on Sep 9, 2002 (gmt 0)


It's hard to know where to start sometimes. First, the cookie doesn't allow google to track anything but the LAST search, and the user preferences. That's all. Folks, it's not tracking EVERY search you made for the last 38 years, only the LAST one. And, like every other search engine, it tracks the LAST one so it can tell which page of it you want to see next -- there's no other way to handle the "next page" request in a stateless system like TCP/IP. If you don't want the feds to break into your computer and find out that you were searching for "Anthrax breeding and distribution systems for rent", then just finish your session by searching for "formal linguistic models of Nahuatl verb participles." Or, if you don't want the "next page" button to work, turn off cookies (or even, using the new browsers, turn off only Google.com cookies). This is not a problem.

Please quit spreading misinformation. Saying this is just as bad as saying Google IS tracking your every search, when in fact you don't really know what they are doing. Personally I don't believe they're doing anything harmful, but who knows. The fact remains that a lot more than your "last search" can be attributed to that cookie. Of course it is not all stored IN the cookie, that is ludicrous. If it was stored, it'd be stored on some DB somewhere keyed to your cookie.

And BTW, TCP is stateful. It is of course built on top of the stateless IP. Did you mean to say HTTP? Which is stateless. But, on top of TCP. Of course we have 1000 ways to keep state over HTTP (sessions...).

Filipe




msg:147161
 10:35 pm on Sep 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

I support where you're trying to go with your argument. I personally don't believe that Google is doing any of the things that are claimed by Everyman, but I think there are some problems with what you're saying:

First, the cookie doesn't allow google to track anything but the LAST search, and the user preferences. That's all. Folks, it's not tracking EVERY search you made for the last 38 years, only the LAST one.

The cookie could very well be used to track all searches. By storing a unique user ID and saving this and a search in a database, you can easily associate any number of searches to a particular computer. It's nothing the end-user would know about since it all happens on the server-side.

there's no other way to handle the "next page" request in a stateless system like TCP/IP

Sure there is. You can even do it through simple query string parameters. I've done it and I'm sure there are many webmasters who have done the same.

Second, the idea that Google might be tracking the IP address from which every search is made: there simply isn't a rational way to address such an assertion.

You pass this off as totally impossible. I don't believe Google is actually doing it, but the value of such information is quite high.

Of course, every website you go to can track accesses (by computer). So can your ISP. So can the routers on the backbones. So can the phone company. So can your neighbor with the spycam in your den. So can the FBI. So ... why pick on Google?

Why Google? Because they're the biggest. I think that's what this whole thread is about - Google is big, so let's target them. Of course, part of the thing is too, that because they're so big, they're the most capable of getting a valuable picture of the state of users on the web. If you did believe in these conspiracies, Google would be your prime suspect too.

And has it not occurred to anyone that the very reason Google needs cookies to track the "current search information" is the reason that a detailed history of searches simply doesn't give the information that it takes to know your every move.

Think of search information as web logs. You can't be sure that every hit or path from the same computer relates to the same user, but you can still get a VERY good picture about what's going on in a website. Plus, though the information may seem unrelated to the layman's eye, web logs can be used to derive tons of valuable information. Tracking user information is not only valuable to marketers, but it can be potentially valuable to a governing body.

But again - I don't believe it's actually happening.

Everyman




msg:147162
 12:37 am on Sep 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

From Google's privacy page [google.com]:
Google notes and saves information such as time of day, browser type, browser language, and IP address with each query. That information is used to verify our records and to provide more relevant services to users. For example, Google may use your IP address or browser language to determine which language to use when showing search results or advertisements.

Is this a misprint? No. I've given Google plenty of opportunity to deny that they record IP address with each query, and they haven't denied it. Notice that they say, "notes and saves ... with each query." That means they record it and store it. They also record and store your unique cookie ID and your search terms with each query.

I fail to understand how intelligent people can read it right on Google's site and then insist that Google would never do such a thing. The only thing that comes to mind is the notion that there's a "Google cult" out there that could use a bit of deprogramming.

Brett_Tabke




msg:147163
 10:30 am on Sep 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Well, since this thread was about you EM, lets call yours the last word there. We are into thread degradation here.

Every one knows pretty much where everyone else stands on the issues now. This was really an interesting thread, but there comes a time when to call them done.

Done.

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