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Google Asking for Permission to Access Location Information

 3:11 pm on Feb 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am using Google with Internet Explorer and I am getting the following message in the SERP:

Google would like to have access to your location. The Google Toolbar will periodically use the network to keep your location up to date.

To the right of this, they have the buttons Share My Information and Don't Share. There is also a box that you can check which says Remember for this site.


This is the first time that I have seen what I have written above and I am not sure what it means. What does this enable Google to do? What is Google trying to figure out? This information is being requested by Google itself.

This is coming up every time I do a search from Google.com and it is on every page of the SERP for the particular search.

I would appreciate your thoughts.



 4:27 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google not only wants your physical location but the following interesting bits of information:

If you enable the My Location feature by granting a website permission to access location, Toolbar will periodically query Google for your current location. In order to determine your location, Toolbar will send Google the hardware IDs (i.e., MAC addresses) and SSIDs of WiFi access points visible to your machine, the hardware ID (i.e., MAC address) of the nearest connected router, and the signal strengths of nearby access points. If you disable the My Location feature, this information will cease to be sent.

This bit is also interesting:

Toolbar does save your last location in the browser's memory so that websites can easily retrieve it.

Source: [google.com...]


 4:40 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

How so?

I am kidding, of course, but only to some extent.

Seriously, though, you can't imagine how they'd find it useful?


 4:44 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

-- How so? --

If they could show the weasel an Ad about the local kimchee(wich would be fake for a specific reason) location, they could potentialy help NSA preven the huge kimchee related hist with in 18 month(or so) ;)


 5:33 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Seriously, though, you can't imagine how they'd find it useful?

Sure, but seeing as they don't need a warrant for a wire tap I don't see why they would bother using Google data when they can tap your phone line and trace all your web activity from the comfort of a van outside your house.

I understand the desire to keep some level of anonymity when online, but really there is no harm in them having this data that I can see.

There are ways of blocking it if you want.


 10:25 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Demaestro - I dont want any collectiong anyting without asking me, also every server can get hacked, then your data is out. Its like when you are doing a daily rutine and you have some idiot running behind you with a note block, not much different.


 10:38 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Zeus... why don't you want people collecting info about you without asking?

If I stood outside my office and counted how many people used the sidewalk out front and I counted you when you walk by would you be upset? (even though this thread is about them asking)

I understand that data can be compromised, but think about the data they collect then ask yourself even if someone hacked their server and got every last piece of data they have on you... what can happen? One thing is for sure they could effectively market to you, but what harm can come from it? How can that be used against you in such a way that you call it bad that they have the data to begin with?

Why is it bad other than you don't like it?


 11:45 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

and got every last piece of data they have on you... what can happen?

They can actively manipulate you. They won't do a physical harm to you, but can manipulate the way of your thinking or behavior. For example, they can show you news, pictures, videos you would otherwise not care to find/read because normally they would be buried.

Imagine one day they start serving you the results that are in accordance to their own ideology (or the ideology of a government they actively work with). You can argue they did no physical harm to you, but mental damage through active censorship and manipulation is worse. Much worse.

As a funny but likely example, assume one day Larry or Sergei become vegetarians. They truly believe people should not eat meat. But they know you eat meat because they know you often search for 'steak recipes' and visit certain restaurants. In order to go ahead with their 'ideology', every time you search for a restaurant on your mobile device they could give priority to vegetarian restaurants. To the point you are so hungry that you finally try vegetarian restaurants because they hide restaurants that serve meat.

The possibilities are endless..


 12:34 am on Feb 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Demaestro - Its not that what they collect and in a way I also dont care what they collect, Its just its so much and they keep it and I can see that this is only the begining, thats maybe more it, what Im thinking about, a little like George Orwell 1984.

I will also say this Im not alone in this Italy, France and Germany also questions all this, but that is a all new topic we are on now.

To the topic, it would be great to be asked first if they could use your date for ads or cloning ;) instead of first colecting instead of asking first.


 1:03 am on Feb 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Using the WiFi information means going way outside the domain of the browser, and into the domain of the OS.

This should really highlight the fact that any toolbar you install will have access to your entire machine and everything that your machine has access to. Everything.

Think about it.


 1:25 am on Feb 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

"I am not so worried about the data they collect. What is the worst thing they can do with it?"

Serve me up crappy serps.

Desribe this looney idea to some one on the street and you get the same reaction 100% of the time... "You're joking. When I search I want the best results, not ones that happen to be closest to me."


 1:33 am on Feb 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I should add now that the trivial local sites that were appearing for the big-ticket, generic search term are no longer in the top 25 for me.

So maybe Google is now partly respecting my instruction to not geolocate my serps. I say "partly" because the utterly ludicrous local map and business results does still appear.


 5:53 pm on Feb 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

loudspeaker - funny you mention NSA, in a European Computer Mag today it says Google is working together with the NSA be cause of the Chinese hacking and for future possible problems, they will have access to some data at Google, but not email and search, year sure who would believe what Google says in these days.

Also Steve Jobs said at a conference, Googles motto "do no evil" is absolute ridiculous.


 6:20 pm on Feb 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

There's a discussion in our Google Business forum about the Google - NSA collaboration [webmasterworld.com], in response to the first report from The Washington Post.

Google asking for permission to access location information from specific computers is good - but it's a very small step indeed, especially because it's so difficult for the average toolbar user to comprehend what's going on.


 7:34 pm on Feb 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

tedster I thought I have seen it some where, was not sure where, but thanks for the link

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