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Google Toolbar tracks data even when turned off
travelin cat

 3:29 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

A bug in Google Toolbar has resulted in the search giant receiving information about users' Web surfing in violation of the product's privacy policy, according to an anti-spyware and privacy researcher. In a report to be released Tuesday, Ben Edelman, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, shows that under certain circumstances the Google Toolbar (versions 6.3 and above) tracks the browser habits of Internet Explorer 8 users who have activated the toolbar's "enhanced features" even when the toolbar is turned off or disabled.

Full story at PC World [pcworld.com]



 5:40 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)



 5:42 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

if its true and google did breach their privacy policy they will have committed a very luck mistake. i dont think any user will get any compensation for google accidentally spying and breaching their personal privacy. google gets a little bad pr in exchange for bonus usage data, sound like a great deal for google.


 5:43 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you read the article carefully, I think it gives enough info to justify this as an honest mistake. For example, if I say disable the toolbar only for this window, I know that the toolbar is still running on my machine. And if I tell IE to disable a toolbar, I wouldn't necessarily expect the toolbar to be unloaded until I restart the browser.


 5:48 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)


Is anyone really suprised given the NSA background of Google's founder that your search habits would be sent to Googleplex with an unique GUID and a cookie lasting till 2038 despite not authorizing it?

The irony is that many complained about the Patriot Act being overly intrusive yet they willing accept a corporation acquiring volumes of personally identifiable data on their communications that never deletes the information.


 5:52 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

GOOG certainly is getting nosey, ¿qué no?


 6:17 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

that isn't a bug....uhh but thats what we'll call it NOW


 6:47 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm not authorized to cite URLs here, but more may be seen in a report I found, via headline on Techmeme, in a report on benedelman org

Admin note - According to the article on PC World, Ben Edelman is the original discoverer of this Toolbar dysfunction, so a link to his page is within our guidelines:

[edited by: tedster at 1:16 am (utc) on Jan. 27, 2010]


 7:46 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Wow, apparently even checking the "Google Toolbar Notifier BHO" box and disabling that component does not impede these Google Toolbar transmissions and disabling Google Toolbar's 'Enhanced Features' requires uninstalling Google Toolbar altogether.


 7:55 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

WOW, It seems like every new thread that hits the fronpage about Google is mostly negative comments about its operations and the way we percept this Giant.

So is this what Eric Schmidt ment when he said there is "No Privacy" on the internet?


 7:58 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is the reason why I never put the Goog toolbar on any computer I use for work.


 8:04 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is the reason why I never put the Goog anything on any computer I and everybody I know use for a very long time.


 8:29 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

So is this what Eric Schmidt ment when he said there is "No Privacy" on the internet?

there is no privacy if he has anything to do with it!


 8:35 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Not surprised at all.
I think they should investigate whether it was accidental.


 9:10 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

And Google is somehow upset the Chinese might be spying on them. Isn't this the pot calling the kettle black. The only difference being the American taxpayer will somehow and someway foot the bill for Google in China. Heck I back the Chinese because Yandex and Baidu aren't trying to press their agenda on the US. Who in the heck does Google think it is, a government, the CIA.


 3:18 am on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Bug. (noun) A hidden feature that is discovered and causes bad PR for the company that put it on the user's system.


 1:17 pm on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Since this topic was removed from the main page, here is an update on this security issue.

Tuesday, January 26: A Google Spokesperson said "To be clear, this is only an issue until a user restarts the browser, and it only affects the currently open tabs for a small number of users.

Specifically it affects those using Google Toolbar versions 6.3.911.1819 through 6.4.1311.42 in Internet Explorer, with enhanced features enabled, who chose to disable Toolbar without uninstalling it. Once the user restarts the browser, the issue is no longer present. A fix that doesn't require a browser restart is now available on www.google.com/toolbar and in an automatic update to Google Toolbar that we are starting today."

No word on why Google never made the privacy issue public on their own however.

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