| This 96 message thread spans 4 pages: < < 96 ( 1 2  4 ) > > || |
|Another Google v. Privacy Thread|
In the current thread on the manipulation of Adwords Tedster pointed out this article, Times Online [technology.timesonline.co.uk]
Is this scary or what?
|Google’s overall goal is to have a record of every e-mail we have ever written, every contact whose details we have recorded, every file we have created, every picture we have taken and saved, every appointment we have made, every website we have visited, every search query we have typed into its home page, every ad we have clicked on, and everything we have bought online. It wants to know and record where we have been and, thanks to our search history of airlines, car-hire firms and MapQuest, where we are going in the future and when. |
Would this effort make the World a better place or is there some Orwellian motive? I can't help thinking that 10 or 15 years ago any such "goal" would have created a Universal uproar.
Rearrange the following well known phrase ... "watching - brother - is - big".
Just an idea. Why can't someone create an open-source, peer-to-peer anonymizer proxy network. Basically, whenever you browse the internet, requests randomly get routed via some other computer running such a client. Load balancing keeps any one system from getting overloaded. So if enough people use such a network - nothing can easily be traced to anyone?
|And I'm not naive enough to fall for "well I didn't actually say anything bad about them, I just asked some questions." |
Hold it a minute! Please do not give the impression that I am trying to back down here. I did say that it was scary that any single commercial concern is allowed to hold so much of people's personal information. I also said that it would not have been allowed a few years ago and I am concerned that many people nowadays just shrug this off.
I am not naïve enough to believe that this amount of information could or would never be used by a company in the pursuit of profit. It already is used for that. This data is the basis for much of their targeted advertising. They use your personal information to serve ads, don't they?
It would be too easy to take this a step or two further when they get into their next big "thing". That is my concern. There is also the very real possibility of the information getting into the wrong hands.
You're worried about them using the information to target ads better? Or that a corporation would pursue profit? That's the purpose of a corporation. Google isn't a 501(c)(3) [en.wikipedia.org] organization. Of course they'll pursue profit.
And, since they will pursue profit, explain where the profit is in helping to bring about an "Orwellian" nightmare. This is, of course, where most "corporations are big brother" arguments collapse. How do you increase shareholder value through hurting your own customers?
|You're worried about them using the information to target ads better? |
No, I didn't say that, and this is getting a bit petty and pointless so let's call it a day.
Some of these can be prevented:
every e-mail we have ever written --only if you use Google mail
every picture we have taken and saved --only if on Google images
every appointment we have made --only if you use Google mail
every website we have visited --only if you use Google tool bar
everything we have bought online --only if you use Google
|everything we have bought online --only if you use Google |
Even if you do use Google they can't track you past the initial search result click unless the target site is using analytics and/or you're using the toolbar.
Hmmm, make can't = couldn't. There's no evidence that they're doing that kind of tracking at this point.
|Therefore, the argument is "You shouldn't trust Google because I, an anonymous forum poster, say so." |
No for me the argument is:
A.) Google collects data
B.) Based on experience from other humans, data is collected to use it.
C.) Based on my experience what you can use the data with this immense sample size for, one can make an inference on potential precision of the model resulting from this data.
D.) Based on above evidence there is a yet unknown likelihood that such a model has an ability to be pretty manipulative
E.) Google tries to sell ads
F.) Google tries to increase profit
G.) Google consists out of thousands of employees in different countries
H.) Google doesn't tell anyone what it does
I.) Out of 100 people a certain amount will cheat
Conclusion based on Facts, Evidence, circumstancial evidence and guesses is that:
There needs to be a possibly legal control structure in place.
Why is such a thing good, as experience shows, like in government, [dictatorship to democracy (Legislative, executive, judicative)], power needs to be controlled.
There is not only political power control, why do countries have anti trust laws, to control power. So why should there no power control on a singular knowledge event like the not before seen data collection of human behaviour that Google practices.
Western Democracies have pretty much failed on MS, question is will they fail again and stiffle competition because we are unable to control singular business events of that magnitude.
Which begs the question, "Why should I trust the forum poster?" If they don't believe they need to earn enough trust, then they are arguing that trust should be given freely to random internet entities. See how that undermines the forum poster's position?
What does this have to do with trust, either our empirical background matches and there is a high likelihood you agree or the reverse.
It's like with nuclear bombs, as there is a LIKELIHOOD of a catastropic event, control measures have been introduced to minimise the likelihood of a mad soldier letting the bombs loose. Two keys, time restricted codes, president has a guy running around after him with the suitcase etc.
*So far, we really only have two data points in this regard. Cooperation with Chinese censorship. -1 Fighting request for search data from US Government. +1 Show me a conclusion based on two data points and I'll show you my "are you joking?" expression.
You mix up imo, the allegation that they are actually abusing privacy and the potential to do so.
If there are 100 humans there is a likelihood that so an so much will be in a certain height range. If you take a sample of 1000 humans so and so many will be criminal are nosy and and and.
IE when i was working at an ISP a;ready 10 years ago, some guys built a wee tool that showed which employye of what company looked at what. So you could pretty much guess that guy A from company B was looking at gay pr0n and was therefore gay. That woman x was looking up divorce stuff and therefore unhappy in her relationship.
In one G Video I saw some guy building a tool that showed where on the earth the search is used in a graph. While this is pretty harmless, it seems to show that they have seemingly access to that data. So how do you know that some guy isn't building more sinister tools even if it's in private.
And on a company level it seems to be profitable to predict exactly when all 41 year old single caucasians buy plastic widgets. Fine this has been tried before, but 20 people answering some lame mailshot is something different than recording all your searches, surf habits with your name attached to it. So if they couple that with the genome data if you see funeral ads, it might be time to call the priest.
Insurances do the same, but do they have so many data points? Insurances would love to have your genome data, so they know when you pop your clogs. (Google is teaming up with Craig Venter (of human genome mapping fame) to use Google's vast computing power to help unlock biology's mysteries....)
yeah sure they want to unlock biologies mysteries.. how noble ...
I would guess more that they want to know exactly what everyone does with the highest degree of probability and slap an ad on that. Fine it if it would be a reasonable scale of error, but with the precision that is possible with that smple size, they'll send you an ad for hospital bill before you know it happens.
Nope sorry that sort of power needs to be controlled to make sure it's used for positive things, ie simply warming you to be careful today.
I am not claiming Google is evil, I just think they run off, like Oppenheimer, into a direction they and we might later regret. Google is like a collection of mad scientists, locked in their cellar with all the funding they can get, plus with all the new non technical staff they will likely also have the more MBA minded people.
Nah we definitely need an independent control so they don't go awol, even if it's in 10 years and even if it's not intended. As someone above said the way to hell is plastered with good intentions.
|Some of these can be prevented: |
every e-mail we have ever written --only if you use Google mail
every picture we have taken and saved --only if on Google images
every appointment we have made --only if you use Google mail
every website we have visited --only if you use Google tool bar
everything we have bought online --only if you use Google
The whole point of collecting subsamples of data is to predict the data points you don't have. So if I don't use Google, but someone similar to me does, they can still theoretically build a model to predict my behaviour. If they continue branching out into new stuff this could affect me somewhere else.
Additionally they have data points from users, maybe until they stop using Google, as they just heared that Google collects all this about them.
The whole point is that this is not just a simple data collection but also an analysation and modelling of human behaviour.
a cctv camera records
In this analogy Google takes all images of these cameras and builds a model to predict where you will go statistically.
If they don't have data on you personally they just need data of similar people to build a statistical model that predicts also your behaviour to a reasonable accuracy.
But unlike mailorder companies, they don't just have 20 badly filled out forms or like in TV some testfamilies but a much better and more detailed data set.
As said before one might actually get ads for a change that are interesting, not some yawner general ads about soap powder, there just needs to be a way to ensure all this power is used in a positive way.
Good posts Mattg.
Years ago I heard there was some org back east that was collecting all data from purchases at grocery stores, etc. re credit card purchases so they could set up "profiles" on people. Maybe we should all quit eating.
Please allow me to rephrase your definition of the problem and the solution.
The problem is that no single entity should have too much information because ignorance is the only way to stay pure of heart. Knowledge isn't just a tool that can be used for good or evil, it's like a nuclear weapon and appropriate controls need to be put into place to keep people from getting too much knowledge.
Your solution is to have governmental oversight, necessarily a single entity that tracks the information that every single corporation (and individual) has to make sure no one gets too much knowledge. That entity will monitor all citizens, looking for patterns of information aggregation. Any group found to be hoarding knowledge will need to report their intentions to the government, at which point a decision will be made whether the use of the knowledge is positive or negative. Negative intentions will result in all information being seized.
There's a reason why I talked about political agendas earlier.
The best way to get people to agree to the government creating "big brother" is to get people afraid of "big brother" happening on it's own. That's my problem with the FUD in this thread. The very last thing anyone needs in this type of conversation is to throw in the "language of terror" into their arguments.
Likening the collection of information to the dangers of nuclear bombs? I guess the whole "you know who else collected information" approach is overused.
|Likening the collection of information to the dangers of nuclear bombs? I guess the whole "you know who else collected information" approach is overused. |
It's also been linked to power control in democracy. That you selectively pick one example is your personal choice. :)
It's also not the collection of information but what you do with the data.
|Information sharing |
Google only shares personal information with other companies or individuals outside of Google in the following limited circumstances:
We provide such information to our subsidiaries, affiliated companies or other trusted businesses or persons for the purpose of processing personal information on our behalf. We require that these parties agree to process such information based on our instructions and in compliance with this Policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures.
We have a good faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to (a) satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request...
At this point it is a given that considerable information about each of us is being collected in a wide variety of methods -- Google just being one of them, though clearly a powerful player. So in a sense we are spitting in the wind if we think we're going to stop it -- we won't. It's a huge wave because information is power and, as has always been the case, lots of companies and countries want more power. In fact, they can never have enough.
I wonder how many websurfers even know that Google is collecting this information? Is it 1%? 10%? 30%? I'd probably go with the 1% guess.
In fairness to the public, I'd like to see at least a required minimal disclosure on the home page of Google, Yahoo, MSN, and any other search site that collects info beyond IP address, browser type, OS, etc. Something like:
I had to click several times to get the quote above (starting at "About Google"), which most people will not do. No one is going to stop Google et al from gathering this info, and there won't be any laws coming along to prevent it, but like the warning on a cigarette pack, it's not unreasonable to require that they give people minimal notice at the point of entry (their home pages), so at least some attempt is made to keep the public informed in regards to what is being learned about them, every single time they use search.
It's never the collection of information, it's always it's abuse.
You claim that information is power that is guaranteed to be abused. In the same breath you argue that a single government entity should be trusted to monitor all information.
Precisely what hiring practices will that government entity use that Google can't? You claim it's the pursuit of profit that allows evil to take place. Do you think that people who choose to work a low paying job in a powerful government agency are automatically doing that for altruistic reasons? Sure about that? [en.wikipedia.org]
What would keep the "U.S. Big Brother Agency" from abusing all the information they would need to collect to perform their function? Or, phrased as the perennial question for government control advocates, who watches the watchers?
Even if I agreed with you about there being a problem, I wouldn't agree with the solutions presented so far. They attach guilt to the tool instead of the abuse. They circumvent the existing judicial system. They assume all people are plotting evil. They exacerbate the very problem they intend to solve by concentrating the remote potentials for information abuse into a single monolithic entity.
Reno I agree with what you are saying 100%.
This is correct. There have been comments above about not having to use Google, etc. but as you say, the real problem is that you cannot opt out if you don't know you have opted in.
Here in the UK we have the Data Protection Act, [opsi.gov.uk...] This affords a degree of protection. This act includes certain rights of access to personal data, [opsi.gov.uk...] I seem to remember that one of the PC magazines tested it with Google by requesting their personal data. As far as I remember this was at first refused then they complied. Perhaps someone else can recall?
|who watches the watchers? |
Good question, normally the courts. But not that I would trust that process perfectly. But at least some countries have Freedom of Information laws, so theoretically anyone could watch the watchers.
In Britain OFCOM, the telecoms watchdog, is pretty lame, while energywatch brings good results.
For example british power companies where illegally signing customers up and forging their signatures, then sending bills out to people who hadn't a clue that they were subscribed to a new company. Maybe the USA is the paradise of consumer happiness, Britain certainly isn't.
I don't see why Google would be the glorious example of being totally different than other companies. Google and the others are for profit companies that need to earn money. Idealism dilutes, adsense rules get softer ..
People are people.
|I seem to remember that one of the PC magazines tested it with Google by requesting their personal data. As far as I remember this was at first refused then they complied. Perhaps someone else can recall? |
Theoretically, like with banks that are commercial entities, you should be able to ask for you data via the Freedom of Information Act. I did this with my bank as all the others did in the UK, to request the illegal charges they simply booked from my account.
I am not totally sure if you can request under that act what their intentions are in regards how they intend to use the data. Genome data can be used to help you or to predict your death and up your insurance premium. That's imo the crucial point, what is done with the data.
A nonmedical ad selling company that gets into genome data, I dunno. Of course that data is still pretty much vague and generally unusable on an individual basis, still it shows a trend in their interest. That's really far off from storing a cookie. ;)
|I don't see why Google would be the glorious example of being totally different than other companies. |
Nor should they be considered a sacrificial lamb. I'm not defending Google, I'm asking those who have made accusations to defend their claims.
The ultimate check against corporations in a free market system is the freedom of choice of the consumers. That process works really well because there is access to factual information upon which they can make those decisions. Attempts at misdirection through vague, indefensible accusations subverts that process. I have a problem with the spreading of false rumors meant to discredit your opponent. It's dishonest and has no place in society.
Prove they are doing wrong. If you can't bring evidence to the table to support your claims, then your claims are simply lies.
I won't guess whether you are trying to short their stock, if you actually believe in socializing technology companies [en.wikipedia.org], or maybe you really do have three pre-cogs [imdb.com] in your pool who are warning you of future crimes, but you shouldn't expect to run rough trod over a company's reputation just so that one day you might get to say "I told you so."
WebmasterWorld isn't anyone's soapbox. Rumor spreading and fear mongering doesn't fit under the umbrella of "News and Discussion for the Web Professional."
|I wonder how many websurfers even know that Google is collecting this information? Is it 1%? 10%? 30%? I'd probably go with the 1% guess. |
From the non tech savvy web users I've talked to I'd say the number is much higher. In fact, ironically, as a result of irresponsible media handling of internet privacy issues over the years, most people I talk to think the websites they visit know far more about them than they actually do (or even theoretically could).
|The very last thing anyone needs in this type of conversation is to throw in the "language of terror" into their arguments. |
This is a good point. The thing that most baffles me here is that there seems to be a lot irrational fear. Where is it coming from? Why pick Google out of such a wide range of more likely candidates with similar reach and far worse personal data handling track records? I honestly can't think of a good reason.
Is it because so many people here at WW depend on Google for their incomes and have been hurt by this or that algo change? Is it built up resentment?
Or is it because they've grown so quickly, and in defiance of so many conventional rules?
Whatever the case, Google hate is a facinating phenomena among WW visitors.
Big brain control freaks. The ethics takes a back seat to "The Project".
I had this in mind when I started this thread: [webmasterworld.com...] (note: subscription required)
[edited by: tedster at 12:24 am (utc) on Oct. 31, 2007]
[edit reason] note in parenthesis [/edit]
|Prove they are doing wrong. If you can't bring evidence to the table to support your claims, then your claims are simply lies. |
There is nothing to proof as you are the only one harking on about accusations of actual abuse.
If someone builds a a sharp pointy object, it is an obvious assumption that there is a possibility of abuse.
If someone collects masses amounts of data, has employed highly qualified mathematicians and goes into Genome data there is a LIKELIHOOD of abuse.
A Likelihood is a possibility of an event not an actual event.
So if someone builds a sharp pointy object than actual countries like the UK have passed laws that you are not allowed to carry that around. That applies to all people BEFORE they actually stabbed someone.
This is based on the theoretical analysis that such an object is dangerous. And my personal analysis based on my empirical background considers a very detailed model possibly linked with genome data on a massive scale as having, besides positive effects, also the possibility of negative effects.
I do not accuse Google of having done nything.
I have stated hypothesis that can currently neither be confirmed nor denied as Google doesn't reveal what it does.
1) Google collects data
2) Google sells ads
3) Google has a search engine
4) Google uses collected data, ie from webpages to target ads
5) Google sends employees to mathematical tech talks
6) Google gets into Genome Data.
so you can build a great search engine that predicts when you should buy new underwear.
or you can an ad targeting machine that sends out for example bereavement industry ads to your next of kin in the likelihood period of your death.
If a medical company wants genome data they likely want to cure diseases.
If an insurance company wants genome data they likely want to predict your insurance risk, probability of illnesses and time of death.
If an ad selling company wants genome data, they will likely want to place targeted ads.
So besides the positive implications there COULD be negative implications. Mentioning these does not deny the existence of the positive implications.
After all people have started buildingt airbags into cars as there is a likelihood that you might end in a tree.That's without you having to ask for proof that you will actually end up in a tree.
There is nothing soapboxy about a simple inference and any guesses why Google wants Genome data is also very relevant to any webmaster. Maybe they could profile spammers or unprofitable websites. It's a yin yang world.
|Or is it because they've grown so quickly, and in defiance of so many conventional rules? |
Which conventional rules have they so outrageously broken?
They had a temporary working good product with their backlinks that appealed to human laziness and a business angel that gave them the money to realise the project, then they had another good product the adword/adsense combo. Given a global niche that equates your high street to a global street there is mostly one niche dominator and that's it.
|Whatever the case, Google hate is a facinating phenomena among WW visitors. |
If you have a company a certain percentage will hate their boss as s/he might control your life. Google controls many webmasters life, hence you will obviously get the various reactions that human psychology brings.
|If you can't bring evidence to the table to support your claims, then your claims are simply lies. |
What claims? I made no claims, where did you see them? This thread is for speculation and discussion so it is OTT and totally wrong for you to accuse people of actually lying. This forum does not normally allow people to use such language, particularly when they refer to "claims" that have not been made. I am really surprised that you have been allowed to do so. Remember, "Always be respectful of other users, the system, and the moderators".
Remember also that your statement above cuts both ways.
|Why pick Google out of such a wide range of more likely candidates with similar reach and far worse personal data handling track records? |
Actually the article mentioned in the OP is about Google so this thread is about Google. It is Google's policy we are discussing and their avowed intent to collect this data. That is why we picked Google.
I am afraid that I will always resent any commercial company being allowed to store this proposed amount of my personal data for no reason other than to help them make money.
You can't continue to deny that you are on the offensive against Google. You have confused my disagreement with your position as disrespect. If you can't defend your claims, it's hardly appropriate to blame me for pointing out that they require defending.
I have been polite in every rebuttal precisely because I have a great respect for WebmasterWorld. I ask you to show a similar respect by being responsible for the posts you make here. Responsibility for what you say here includes defending yourself when you are using this forum as a platform to make attacks on other people.
So, please bear with me while I defend my claim that you have made accusations. (Also please note I have included myself in my fictional example so as to avoid the appearance of a personal attack.) Observe the following fictional example that illustrates the method you have used to make accusations:
1. Criminals are humans
2. Criminals use computers
3. Criminals access web forums to locate victims
4. BeeDeeDubbleU and whoisgregg are both humans who know how to use a computer and access web forums on a regular basis
Is that scary or what? Are they just trying to discuss things or is there some criminal motive?
It's dangerous for these individuals to have access to computers. A government agency should monitor these individuals to make sure they don't commit more crimes.
Is an argument of that form an accusation? Or mere speculation?
[edited by: tedster at 3:35 pm (utc) on Oct. 31, 2007]
Your example matches UK laws that enforce a background check on people that come into contact with children. Mobile providers disallow webpages based on age. Yesterday I registered on a forum that first aksed my age. Nothing out of the ordinary. There is obviously scope for discussion where the paranoia has to stop, but speculations are not lies, which is what you accused people of doing.
To be realistic the simple geotargeting in WMT shows that Google is far off from any form of sophistication. Additionally the section, what Googlebot sees seems to suggest that they are not able to distinguish between what is menu and what is content. So larrys dream of a prepredictive search engine (as stated in a Google video) is a long way off.
I really don't get what this thread is about anymore, although I've read all the posts.
Is it about whether a private company storing huge, no make it world class amounts of personal data can hold just as large risks, even if the company has no intent to use or sell it in abusive ways?
No, we all know that the risks are huge.
Take AOL, or eBay etc. for example just this year.
Is it about whether anyone said that Google does this?
No, no one said they do, you were talking about the RISK of abuse and how suggestive the poster's comments are.
So, this thread is about whoisgregg telling others that they singled out one such global company out of many and this ain't fair. ( You're right btw, it's not fair. Although the response to that was that this IS the Google related section of the forum, where people and me, are interested in Google specific stuff, so... the rest of the companies probably get their share of concerns in the related forums, right? )
Furthermore whoisgregg saying that others accused this company of already abusing the data piled up, which everyone denies... uh...
A thread about a thread.
Sort of like a movie about making a movie about making a movie?
But don't mind me, keep on going.
There's stuff to learn from every bit of informaiton.
But I wondered if you could somehow integrate this into the "debate"... the news that was just posted as latest and made it to the WW homepage? I think it concludes the risks, initiatives, the public opinion and whatnot in a pretty timely manner.
Hehehe, nice summary. :)
|You have confused my disagreement with your position as disrespect. |
No. I have taken your claim that I was lying as disrespect. Your disagreement with my position is of no concern to me. You are clearly entitled to your opinions, flawed or otherwise. What you are not entitled to do is accuse people of lying when there is absolutely no evidence of this.
|So, please bear with me while I defend my claim that you have made accusations. (Also please note I have included myself in my fictional example so as to avoid the appearance of a personal attack.) Observe the following fictional example that illustrates the method you have used to make accusations: |
Oh I see! It was a fictional claim that I made? That explains it, sorry. ;)
So can you now give me a fictional example of where I was lying?
[edited by: tedster at 3:36 pm (utc) on Oct. 31, 2007]
Clever? It made my blood boil as well to see my name in my own example. But, I could see no other way to make it clear that arguments of that form are indeed accusations. :(
By your frustration, I see I've managed to make that point.
At this point, I think I've made as complete a case as possible. I'll let my arguments stand as is whether the thread is locked or not.
Let's move on, and let the thread stay open for other points of view. No matter how someone personally feels about the issue, the back and forth has been clarifying.
I tried in an earlier post to point out how emotions can cloud this discussion: mentions were made of Google and China, which was not a privacy issue at all, it was a censorship issue.
However, the genie of data collection has long been out of the bottle, as anyone who's been doing direct marketing offline knows rather well. For a fee, all manner of data has been available for "database overlays" for quite a few years.
I would personally rather not see government regulation get into the picture, unless it's to PROTECT the rights of companies not to be forced into disclosing their data - something that has worked nicely so far for Google's Orkut case.
There's a very closely related thread in our Webmaster General forum - growing from a NY Times article, published today.
Internet Privacy Efforts Take A Step Forward [webmasterworld.com]
| This 96 message thread spans 4 pages: < < 96 ( 1 2  4 ) > > |