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Google Finance, Govt, Policy and Business Issues Forum

This 34 message thread spans 2 pages: 34 ( [1] 2 > >     
Watchdog group calls Google's privacy policies the worst
press honeymoon over for google
walkman




msg:3363217
 3:22 am on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

"In a report released today, London-based Privacy International assigned Google its lowest possible grade. The category is reserved for companies with "comprehensive consumer surveillance and entrenched hostility to privacy."

None of the 22 other surveyed companies — a group that included Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and AOL — sunk to that level, according to Privacy International.

While a number of other Internet companies have troubling policies, none comes as close to Google to "achieving status as an endemic threat to privacy," Privacy International said in an explanation of its findings."
[chron.com...]

 

oddsod




msg:3363473
 1:24 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

related [webmasterworld.com]

Web_speed




msg:3363496
 1:52 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is just the beginning...

The "do no evil" thingy has warn out and can no longer musk Googl's real face.

rarethings55




msg:3363514
 2:08 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

This letter is absurd.

[privacyinternational.org...]

thecityofgold2005




msg:3363523
 2:14 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Paraphrasing, sorry:

'organising all the world's information'
...
and recently
...
'anticipating what you want before you know it'

are going to be difficult to reconcile with doing no evil. Especially since this is a regular corporation with a regular profit motive. And a highly secretive corporation of questionable motives at that.

When you consider that many people are reluctant to knowingly give away phone numbers or address details on order forms. etc, there will be a huge backlash against Google once the general public wise up to what 'do no evil' Google is actually all about. That being personal data collection on a massive scale.

newsecular




msg:3363525
 2:17 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

OK That's it then.
June 2007 was the time the tide finally turned on Google.

oddsod




msg:3363526
 2:19 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

there will be a huge backlash against Google once the general public wise up to what 'do no evil' Google is actually all about

I'd like to think you're right but I strongly believe in the ignorance of the masses. More and more people are now willing to trade privacy for less and less in return. Sometimes it's only a free subsciption to a newsletter or a free update to a software package.... I could probably get their bank account password on the vague promise of a nude photo of Shilpa Shetty. They'll happily trade private info for personalised search.

The public, in my Ignorance Of The Masses theory, just blunder along witlessly. Like they are doing with Paypal [webmasterworld.com].

zett




msg:3363536
 2:33 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Where is the news?

It's been known for a long time that Google can be a privacy desaster. They try to gather as much information as possible without telling anyone why they need the data (easy: to show behaviour-related ads), how they use it today (not so easy to tell from the outside), and how they might use it in the future (uhh - very difficult).

Ganceann




msg:3363543
 2:57 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

The masses never really read a privacy policy in the first place - they simply click yes to agreeing to whatever policy is in place and continue to use services after privacy policy updates... by default they have accepted the policy changes.

The more concerning matter is that 100s of websites do track user behaviour away from their sites without disclosing the information explicitly. Many sites say they track behaviour on their site - and mention links to 3rd party sites - but fail to disclose that they continue to monitor user activity after a user leaves their site.

The problem is these type of sites are normally associated with services people do find useful and necessary in some cases... they have no option but to accept the privacy statements even though it tracks all use. Google is no different here than many other sites - but Google does have significantly more data than most other companies and therefore potentially the biggest threat to privacy.

In my opinion privacy on the internet has failed to exist for many years due to improvements in user tracking. It only exists in theory and many people interpret privacy issues differently... there is no clear definition of what privacy means to everyone.

zafile




msg:3363582
 4:13 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

The only reason I installed the Google toolbar in one of my machines is to check PageRank from my Web sites.

However, I have never felt comfortable about this little piece of software sending information back to Google.

If Google really meant about doing "no evil", then what's the purpose of using this little piece of spyware also known as the Google toolbar.

The "no evil" BS is just that, BS.

And yes, I'm aware that before installing the toolbar, the toolbar provides a warning about consequent privacy issues.

But, what happens when third parties install the Google toolbar in users' PCs and users aren't aware of these privacy issues?

Hmmm...

jtara




msg:3363636
 5:48 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

I make a point of using no Google hosted services, and I do not log-in to access Google. I always urge others not to use Google hosted services.

The big problem I have with Google hosted services is not privacy, though, but loss of control over data. While the data MAY be encrypted as Google claims, one is relying 100% on Google to not lose it, and unless there have been some recent developments, they make it difficult or impossible to back-up.

Unfortunately, I have a Google user ID because I have an Adwords account. I'm not happy that in order to have an Adwords account, I need to have a universal Google ID.

(The irony is that I need TWO Google IDs - one for my Adwords account, and one for my MCC account. So much for universality!)

I assume, nevertheless, that my search actions can be and are connected to my Google ID through cookies, so I avoid using Google and use Ask.com most of the time. Unfortunately, their results are not always timely, so I have to use Google when searching for current events, etc.

sublime1




msg:3363638
 5:49 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wait. Please.

Before leaping on Google, has everyone actually read the report? Here's the [privacyinternational.org...] summary by Privacy International, with a link to the "interim rankings" [privacyinternational.org]. The report condemns Google's privacy policies, as well as some others'.

However, the report is about policies, not specific actions that have affected the privacy of anyone: it makes no allegation that I could see about how the data has actually been used in a bad way.

I have no judgment about Privacy International. They seem to be authentic, and clearly they feel strongly about their mission. The tone of their presentations is about on the same plane as GreenPeace, whose motives I strongly support, but whose practices are on the radical end of the spectrum. I have no problem with this kind of approach, except to note that a mainstay of the approach is to generate publicity. Remember GreenPeace guys in rubber rafts disrupting whalers? Publicity works, and what better way to generate publicity than Privacy International's report condemning Google?

But let's assume the report does point out a number of cases where Google's practices are not in line with Privacy International's high standards.

So now we all leap on Google. They have been exposed as the evil company we all knew they must be all along. Our worst fears are confirmed. "Do no evil" -- ha! Isn't that what we're saying in this thread?

Why do we do this as a society -- a predictable pattern of beating down those at the top?

IBM was beaten down by the throngs, to the benefit of Microsoft (and with their help). Then the crowds beat down Microsoft, to the benefit of many, including Apple and especially Google (and with their help). Now we're beating down Google, and even Apple (and their evil iPod battery conspiracy).

I guess this is how we are as a species. Maybe it's a valid survival instinct.

Believe me, I am not an apologist for any of these companies. To a lesser or greater degree all failed in one way or another. The biggest failing was foolhardy bravado, notably Gates and Ballmer. All I have seen from Google at this point is suspicion, righteos indignation, but also several rather surprising positive signs that they may not be as bad as most corporations.

Perhaps this is the way we keep competition alive? But it comes in these absurd waves: at first a company can do nothing wrong; they grow to be bigger than we're comfortable with (through our own actions); then they can do nothing right. In no case is the problem as extreme as we are lead to believe (they are not that good, and probably not that bad, although I'll exclude oil companies and cigarette companies from this broad characterization :-).

Now the crowd has, predictably, turned upon Google.

Does Google have an incredible amount of data and an even more incredible ability to relate that data (which is their true power)? Yes -- they do. They are a very smart and well managed company. Perhaps it is true that "power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely". Maybe I am just naive.

But I have to believe that somehow Google as a company is smarter than this -- smarter and more motivated to be a force of good, if only because being seen as a force of bad is a sure and swift cause of corporate death. A prerequisite of today's profit motive requires the perception of goodness (it hasn't always been this way, by any means).

How the mighty are fallen.

Google's most obvious "sin", like any of the others upon whom the madding crowd turned before, is to have risen to the top of the heap, thus making them the most obvious and easiest target.

Yes, they have grown at an astonishing rate. And undoubtedly they need to focus on how they safeguard their assets and less on growing. To the degree that this kind of report helps them understand the urgency of such a change in focus, it's a good thing.

But no one has said that Google has done anything wrong, as far as I can see in the information on the report.

Now, the true vultures will start picking away at what Google could have become: the lawyers. The only difference between them and vultures is that vultures wait until the body is dead. How come that's ok?

Ok, I'm done now. Tear me a new one.

cabbagehead




msg:3363639
 5:49 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

I assume any information I give google will be used to find profit. One area that really irks me on is Adwords. I assume that by using their "free" Analytics and ROI calculator that know exactly what my price tolerance is and will start to increase my costs per click seperate from my competitor, with this in mind.

...its like playing poker against Google, knowing they have plain view of your cards. And, if I might say - its incrdibly hippocritical of them to collect and use all this information while simultaneously claiming their profit share formula for AdSense is "secret".

...its just not good to do business with someone when they hold all the cards - and that's the game they're playing with all this data collection - ensuring they hold all the cards...

Go60Guy




msg:3363650
 6:11 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Danny Sullivan certainly was not impressed with the report.

[searchengineland.com...]

jtara




msg:3363653
 6:19 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

What Google does with the data is less important than what governments can force Google to do with the data.

Google's good intentions don't matter. Their policies - which may permit the data to fall into truly evil hands - ARE what matters.

In particular, their retention periods are absurdly long. Data should be retained for long periods only when required by law, and if Google is not evil, perhaps they should even refrain from doing business in countries that require long retention periods.

Indeed, Google has enough of a stranglehold on the industry to forestall the imposition lawmaking that would require long retention periods in free countries. That is, if they worked for good (as opposed to "not being evil") and choose to be proactive.

callivert




msg:3363679
 7:03 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

What Google does with the data is less important than what governments can force Google to do with the data.
Google's good intentions don't matter. Their policies - which may permit the data to fall into truly evil hands - ARE what matters.

You have given me a new perspective on this problem.
The more I think about it, this is the real issue.

DamonHD




msg:3363681
 7:08 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Which is exactly why I am prepared to let G see some of my data but utterly unwilling to fly to the US these days since it continues to insist on scanning my whole body (and linking that data to things such as my credit card) at the border, since careless/disgruntled government workers and politicos are VERY dangerous when they know all about you. Innocence or guilt is irrelevant here.

(Some just sell off your data for ID theft, which is almost the least worrying...)

G at least seems to care and has a name to protect and COULD choose to keep some of the personal data in the most secure jurisdiction in which it operates, for example.

Rgds

Damon

zafile




msg:3363682
 7:09 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

One final comment on the Google toolbar.

The "feature" I dislike the most is its always on auto-update.

So, when someone makes the mistake of installing the little piece of software, Google can install whatever it wants in his-her PC. And there is no way to stop it as long as the Google toolbar is installed in the PC.

newsecular




msg:3363706
 7:52 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

What we must realize is that Google is just another company, good and bad.

We have given Google some sort of saintly status, as if it was above others. Google has asked for this position and we have just handed it to them.

We are now beginning to see the true face of Google, unveiling the saint figure finding he is sinful, just like the rest of us.

I myself am now as skeptical and critical towards Google as I used to be towards Microsoft, if not more. Microsoft never claimed to be a saint. It is sad really, because I really believed that Google was fundamentally different. It feels like being let down by a good friend.

walkman




msg:3363710
 7:57 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> "What Google does with the data is less important than what governments can force Google to do with the data. Google's good intentions don't matter. Their policies - which may permit the data to fall into truly evil hands - ARE what matters."

well put jtara. I have been making this point for a while: if google doesn't have the info, the Govt' cannot get it, but if they do, all bets are off.

cabbagehead




msg:3363719
 8:04 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

> "It is sad really, because I really believed that Google was fundamentally different"

The day any company goes public, you can assume they are no longer a saint. ;)

zeus




msg:3363732
 8:31 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

about time they got nailed, there has been so much in the magazines about this topic, the last 6 month, the worst thing, they tink everything is ok and "have you seen our offices we have fun, we are just like you."

Kurgano




msg:3363745
 8:43 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google will NOT take over the world, the problem is stopping them from trying when they start doing damage to the way internet operates... and they've already started.

Some got a 2000% hike in their adwords premiums this week and so thousands are scrambling to re-do their sites this week. Google shouldnt have that much power imo.

Privacy? what privacy. I dropped google adsense when I was creating a page that hadn't gone live yet and the ads I got were targeted to items on my desktop. My desktop shouldn't be viewable by anyone but the adsense code had no troubles doing so.

jtara




msg:3363796
 9:35 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

I dropped google adsense when I was creating a page that hadn't gone live yet and the ads I got were targeted to items on my desktop. My desktop shouldn't be viewable by anyone but the adsense code had no troubles doing so.

I find that a bit far-fetched. If you can prove it, though, that would be MAJOR news and I'd urge you to follow-up.

You weren't, by chance, also searching for items related to what was on your desktop?

Say, you are obsessed with Paris Hilton. Your desktop is filled with Paris Hilton video and audio clips. (Whah! Whah!) I'd bet you've been doing a few searchs on "Paris Hilton". I'd not be surprised if Adsense comes up with Paris Hilton-related ads. (As well as "Hotels in Paris...")

Google doesn't say much about their algorithms, but I've never much emphasis on the notion that they use search history to determine ads that are displayed. This might be an indication of a change in direction.

[edited by: jtara at 9:37 pm (utc) on June 10, 2007]

cabbagehead




msg:3363799
 9:35 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

> "I got were targeted to items on my desktop."

Wow - yeah, that's *really* over the line. And I thought email-targeted ads on Gmail was bad!

DamonHD




msg:3363810
 9:46 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

AS can target to pages that exist only on my local machine, ie before they go live, because my filenames are meaningful and AS can parse those... It can also pick up clues about my server type and recent searches. Sometimes astonishing for a moment or two...

Rgds

Damon

Chico_Loco




msg:3363845
 10:48 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

I can't prove any of the following, so don't take it as fact, but:

A reliable person that I was in communication with over the last few months works VERY closely with the executive branch at Google. He claimed that Google actually sell user trend data to multinational corps at the very top-tier (to reduce the likelyhood of data getting out). He even mentioned the name of two companies that were clients purchasing such data.

He didn't say what data exactly gets passed on but I would be surprised if it were anything that had personally identifiable information - but I got the impression that the data would show all the searches from a particular user - just not that users IP (though certainly country) etc...

Again - just a rumor.

blend27




msg:3363869
 11:43 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

oh well. We knew. we b.ched, but what’s the point, they know what type of Chinese food you had 2 weeks ago, as well as your CC Company, as well as the merchant that sold you food that was prepared by the cook, who placed the order for the raw chicken using his MC to get the chicken via ecommerce site that used G as a platform to advertise.

Now who is that hotty with a drum stick in her pocket?

blend27




msg:3363874
 12:00 am on Jun 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Or better yet, who is doing the Chicken Dance?

P.S. This is the last time I post in this thread.

Web_speed




msg:3363906
 12:44 am on Jun 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I dropped google adsense when I was creating a page that hadn't gone live yet and the ads I got were targeted to items on my desktop. My desktop shouldn't be viewable by anyone but the adsense code had no troubles doing so.

I find that a bit far-fetched. If you can prove it, though, that would be MAJOR news and I'd urge you to follow-up.

I wouldn't be that surprised... G desktop search, G toolbar...the darn things are known to be sending alot of back and forth data.

[edited by: Web_speed at 12:47 am (utc) on June 11, 2007]

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