Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from

Forum Moderators: open

Message Too Old, No Replies

Google Watch Watch

Who watchers the watchers?



8:32 pm on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Found a site/page about the Google Watch site being talked about in another 'watchdog' type site in PopDex today.

Yes, the Google Watch Watch.

Anyone in line to see what is behind this newcomer's site and become the Google-Watch-Watch-Watch?

Ahhh, gotta love the Internet ;)


12:55 pm on Aug 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

People talk about privacy. If one were to be on equal across the net, why does no one seem to care about the privacy policy of dozens of spamware and back-door adware stuff that comes with a number of free stuff. Even yahoo, MSN, and what-not collects all the information they can. Wonder why is this bias against google. It would make much more sense if people who are against google's privacy would be more louder against privacy on net as a whole.

google doesn't collect personally identifyable information. Yahoo for it's mail or wat-ever services ask for your name and zipcode and everything you can think of..business...sometimes, annual salary..etc..just for a mail addy @ yahoo..wonder how they use the information?
Where did the privacy fighters go?


1:03 pm on Aug 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

what could possibly be gained by tracking search queries to a human being?

Ok, I'm sick of hearing this line of reasoning so I have to object. This is definitely the *wrong* reason to defend Google in this case. What matters is that some people find their query history to be extremely personal. And I think *most* people would if they thought about it hard enough.

I certainly do. Over time I've typed thousands of queries into Google. While many individual queries were whimsical or unrelated to what I was working on at the time, the set of all queries I've made, seen from afar, gives a very crisp picture of my interests, my geographical location, my friends, my sexuality, etc. The right data mining software could probably look at this history and tell me more about myself than I already know. I can think of nothing more personal that exists in electronic form except possibly my email. Even my entire web browsing history doesn't come close to containing the information that's in all those words.

So imagine if evey single query *you've* ever made to Google were listed and neatly summarized by category in a single document that was distributed to potential employers, romantic prospects, marketers, etc. Sure that's a ridiculous and paranoid prospect -- but NOT because it's not possible or not "interesting" to enough of these people. If *you* were one of these people, wouldn't you be curious? Wouldn't you pay, if you could?

See, it's a ridiculous prospect not because it's boring or technically difficult, but because it is such a flagrantly wrong thing to do, and Google has a clear privacy policy and a history of (mostly) doing the right thing. And they'd get in so much trouble if they sold this data that it would mean their destruction as a company.

I noticed Sergey Brin also shrugs off the usefulness of query profiles in that SearchEngineWatch article ("The information it has really isn't that useful"..."There's not that much you can necessarily infer from them.") That bothers me. He knows perfectly well how valuable query data is, or could be, to any number of organizations. He goes on to imply that because of the noise in the data (like his searches for porn, of course), the problem of extracting useful information from query histories is intractable. He should be the last person on earth to believe something like that.


2:49 pm on Aug 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Powdork says:
my first impression is that us webmasters would have a much greater grasp of the privacy issue simply because of our involvement with the web and BECAUSE WE WOULD ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT A COOKIE IS

I agree. It's a mystery. You have webmasters saying, "It's just a number, it doesn't say anything about you." Tell that to a holocaust survivor with a number on their arm. Germany used IBM punch cards and hundreds of mechanical sorters, and had the entire population scoped out after a series of very comprehesive censuses. They also keyed in birth and marriage records from little country churches. It was all done in binary form on IBM punch cards, with religion, ancestors, and so on, starting in the early 1930s. By the time they started rounding up undesirables, they knew exactly who they wanted, and where they lived, and why they wanted them. Read all about it in IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black (Crown, 2001).

natural says:

i'm not a simple person, but i just don't 'get' the gripe here. i loathe an intrusive gov't, but 35 year cookies (or even 100 year cookies) and session id's at a search engine just seem to be irrational perceptions of evil that allow some people play the victim role, or scare other people for absolutely no reason.

No, you don't get it. The ID number in the cookie is not a session ID. It's a permanent ID that is saved to disk and read every time you access Google, whether for a search or when the toolbar phones home. If you have an ever-changing IP number, the cookie ID can tie them all together as coming from a single browser. The only way to change this ID number is to dump Google's cookie by deleting it, so that Google can't find their cookie and has to issue a fresh one with a new ID number. If Google could tatoo this number on your arm, they probably would. That would fix the problem they have with people like me who erase their Google cookies several times a day.


3:51 pm on Aug 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

By comparing Google to Hitler you automatically lose the argument.

Godwin's Law.


4:14 pm on Aug 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

dougb; i would LOVE to have all of my searches neatly laid out, so i could point out how stupid this whole thing is by letting you try and guess ANYTHING about me. i'll bet you couldn't, based on thousands and thousands of searches.

this is stupid.


4:18 pm on Aug 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

oh, and kackle; how do you access the internet from one of those shacks in montana?

sshhhh. <whisperi>i think that the feds are audio recording the sounds that my keyboard is making, so they can figure out what i'm doing on my computer...gotta go</whisper>


4:32 pm on Aug 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hmm, that sounds like a good bet to me. You're on.
This 37 message thread spans 2 pages: 37

Featured Threads

Hot Threads This Week

Hot Threads This Month