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My Search History lets you easily view and manage your search history from any computer. This feature of Google web search enables you to find information you thought you lost. And over time, you'll see an increasing number of relevance indicators in your search results that help you find the information you want
tip from [battellemedia.com...]
and more from Reuters: [reuters.com...]
Doing anything online compromises your privacy. I would be more worried about the entry level worker at my ISP, any public school employee, the underpaid data entry worker at the local utility, or any waiter with a card scanner tucked into their apron pocket, before I would worry about Google employees turning my search history over to the Feds. Its not like the Feds cant come take my hard drives anyways.
Im not just sticking my head in the sand on this issue. I have been a victim of identity theft on at least 3 separate occassions. It is not something you get over. But the reality is that there is no such thing as privacy anymore. Its not a matter of if your privacy or identity will be compromised, but a matter of when you discover that its already happened.
For those that keep reminding Google of their "Do no evil" mantra, please remember that their stated goal is to organize the world's information.
If you give it up, its going to be compiled by someone. Why the heck do you think IAC bought AJ? It wasnt to give them a boost in the serps. Its ALL about information. And NO ONE knows this better than Barry Diller. How come Drudge didnt try to scare the dickens out of people with that story? Diller knows if you are looking for a loan, where you want to fly, where you want to stay, and whether you prefer blondes, brunettes or redheads. He also know knows how you search if you use AJ.
When it comes to personal information, Google is actually late to the party.
2. and most importantly: those logs are destroyed after 30 days or so not kept there for perpetuity.
You might not know my address or credit card number, but you know my email and it isn't hard (in most cases) to find out who is behind it. Chances are you've posted with that e-mail here and there, and many people have firstname_lastname etc. The identity theft can be fixed, it's painful and time consuming, but it doesn't "cost" you anything. Having an embarrasing detail released by a disgruntled Google employee or a hacker can be much, much worst.
It's true that all the info you have, we give it to you by using Google. And it's also true that most people don't think too much about it, but Google is losing their innocence and the press will soon catch up with it. You can't have it both ways. MSFT wouldn't dare of doing that. Remember the heat they got for their Media Player info and Windows calling home to make sure it's licensed? Peeople don't like being spied into.
"On the other hand, walkman, Google doesn't know a user's identity in general, and we only see info that you send to Google. ISPs have much more information (including contact info and credit card numbers) than any search engine does. Having worked at Google for several years, I'm proud of the amount of respect we have for our users' privacy. I do think it's important that we don't allow third-party cookies, for example."
Nothing could be further from the truth. ID theives can reveal your medical records, steal your money from ANY type of account, tie up social security or unemployment benefits, destroy your credit, even steal the identity of your newborn child.
Revealing that someone searched for something tawdry doesnt even compare. Besides, within 15 minutes of logging on with a new computer, most computers are compromised enough to devulge this info anyway.
<added>If you have/are searching for anything on the Homeland Security watch list, you are already being monitored</added>
On the other hand, walkman, Google doesn't know a user's identity in general
Providing of course you haven't signed up for adwords, adsense, google local business, or used google maps to get directions from any one location frequently.
My ISP, utility company, local waiter or any other service may know my checking account, or credit card number but other than the context of that service they don't know much about me. Google on the other hand, who is in the business of taking data and organizing it, will know who I am and that I searched for "hot teens", "depression", "hair loss treatments" or "cheap iocaine powder".
Very scary indeed.
I don't want no company to store for years what I search online
Most servers log every access to the site and my site logs all search requests to my database, I just don't let customers review them is all. I would assume Google has been tracking you all along too, just not in such an organized fashion. Who knows how long Google retains this stuff but my logs are over a year old.
BTW, if I were some people on the net I'd stop running from server to server looking for "nude pre-teens" as that's a common search phrase I see (why? we know why but WHY?) and someone's gonna turn them in eventually.
Overall, having found things on Google I really wanted and then forgot to book mark a site or forgot exactly how I found them the next day when I wanted to look at similar results, this could be a time saving feature.
What happens if the govt asks Google for the data on all individuals who searched for bomb making materials, islamic fundamentalist sites, or illegal software? What happens when record companys ask for anyone who searched "download free mp3"?
Some ISP's actually fight pretty hard against this, as surveillance is really not their business and all that storage is a lot of costs, so they prefer to just count the minutes of bandwith in order to bill you. Anyway, given the geographic distribution of the members here, basically you're probably being monitored long before you ever type google into your browser. But then, unlike cookies, web bugs, tracking scripts, and logins, you don't actually see any of this.
Oh, and if this should make you feel important or priviledged, then be aware that all your gigabytes of .avi, .mov, .mp*, .iso files (ie. your precious data) is just a small drop in a very large sea, and there are far bigger fish to fry than you looking at some random pr0n, or calling the government of this season (whatever season) names, even dirty ones. Believe me (or not), most people do exactly that.
I should perhaps add that i have worked with pretty big amounts of web usage data at a pretty big ISP around here. You tend to get perspective; most things people like to keep private are pretty common. I wouldn't hesitate to say that looking at islamic sites is pretty common too - in fact most religions are pretty popular. And extremists (be they sexual or otherwise) are quite popular too, but then you only need to turn on your TV on a random evening or read a random newspaper to confirm that.
[edited by: claus at 6:25 pm (utc) on April 21, 2005]
Anyone out there to refute and tell exactly what MSN or Yahoo do to protect the privacy of the searchers that Google doesn't?
Online privacy is a ticking time bomb. But, just whenever Google releases a feature, crying out loud and remaining silent at other times (as well as for other search engines) is just silly.
Please stop injecting common sense in the discussion :). They can wake up one day and think how easy it is to just ask Google to hand over the data so they can see who searched for "X Stadium" or X buidling that was just blown up. Whether you searched to see the seating arrangaments, to get directions, term paper etc., doesn't matter. After that they'll thin the list by checking if those people also searched for other suspicious things, such as ACLU, Free Speech, FBI, Patriot Act, bomb, etc. etc. Now FBI doesn't even need an warrant from a judge. All they have to do is write a [google.com...] Too far fetched? Check this: [google.com...]
And if they "know" you did it, you're going in jail or at least your life will be ruined; they need to catch someone. In many cases anyone will do. Call Richard Jewel or the "anthrax suspect" up if you don't believe me.
Kirby, you see the difference between terabytes of raw logs that get rotated every x days and what Google is doing, right?
Online privacy is a ticking time bomb.
Online privacy, ROFLMAO, it's an oxymoron and it never really existed.
Anyone that says otherwise is naive.
Every server you visit logs your access and declining cookies is being in denial, you're already tracked.
Email hosted on 3rd party servers is most likely being read by someone, even IMs are logged.
Anyone armed with the simplest of RF keylogging spy gear can pick up all your keystrokes from outside your window unless your keyboard and cables have some serious RF shielding. Most of the circuits in the computer generate RF that can be easily picked up as well. Then if you're silly enough to use wiresless networking every site you visit is broadcast to anyone within the range of your network to sniff the packets.
The closest you can get to "online privacy" is hosting your own domain and email at your house and use anonymous proxy servers for all other online activities.
The best online privacy I ever saw was the NSA in the early 90s. Their connection to the outside world was physically separate from the inside network, in a completely shielded room, and data could only be moved to the outside connection via sneaker net on a floppy. Now THATS security and privacy :)
anyone who wants privacy would never be online
Seriously, anyone wanting privacy would never leave the house!
The security cameras in the library and bookstores might record you picking up that copy of the Anarchist's Cookbook and for god's sake don't use your grocery store discount card when you buy the raw materials for one of the cookbook's "recipes" and pay in cash :)
those logs are destroyed after 30 days or so
the difference between terabytes of raw logs that get rotated every x days
If data is important enough to collect in the first place, then why would raw logs get destroyed after 30 days? Why log anything if you aren't keeping it and using it?
There's real security and there's security blankets. You use the fact that other companies haven't written programs to allow users to access the information collected about them as evidence that those companies either aren't keeping it more than 30 days or aren't using it at all.
Your argument can be effectively re-written as such:
Other companies keep me in the dark about what they track, so they must not really be tracking anything. I assume they must delete what they do track, since I've never been allowed to see any of it.
I don't mean to roast you personally, but your ideas about this topic are just wishful thinking and the last thing any serious and professional privacy discussion needs is wishful thinking.
Same reason that CCTV data is kept for 28 days... so you can look back at it if you need to. How do you think they investigate click fraud for example?
I haven't heard the ISPs announcing the same plans, yet, have you? I remember reading during the RIAA arguments that logs were deleted every 30 days. I forgot what ISP said that. I have old logs on my site too, but they're just there; I don't know their e-mails, names nor do I care. They're just a bunch of anon IPs. If you can't see the difference, please don't blame me. Not because I take it personally, it just doesn't reflect good on you.
"Other companies keep me in the dark about what they track, so they must not really be tracking anything. I assume they must delete what they do track, since I've never been allowed to see any of it."
Yep. Im also not disagreeing with you. My point is similar to IncrediBILL. Privacy is a nostalgic thing of the past. Data mining is the key. Search engines just have the ability to take it to a level never seen outside of a government agency.
Do I fear that the Feds will show up tomorrow in Mt View wanting info? No, because they did that yesterday. Does it bother me that a commercial entity outside of the feds has as much info as they do? Yes, but its too late for that as well. As mentioned, they have been mining data for 5 years years. This is just an acknowledgement and commercialization of something that isnt new.
What is scary is that few care and are more interested in convenience than privacy, but perhaps they are just realists and I'm still tilting at windmills.
What is scary is that few care and are more interested in convenience
What's scary is more people seem to be more concerned with the security of a convenience feature Google offered that is obviously OPT-IN than they are with the fact that their emails are sitting in plain text on servers all over the place open to any prying eyes that want to see them. Paranoia of large companies seems for supercede the stark realities of existing privacy holes so big you can drive a bus thru them.
This is real simple in that if you don't want to use the new feature on Google DON'T and if you're searching for articles on bomb construction or joining the Taliban you should probably stop that anyway as 'they' are watching you.
I'm suspecting this new feature will end up ultimately tied tighter to search engine technology that starts suggesting sites you're more likely to be interested in based on your site searching and selection habits similar to Amazon's product suggestion targetting.
If I'm right and this happens down the road it could be the end of SERPs as we know them.
For the record, I'm not signing up for "My Search History" any faster than I'm signing up for GMail. Don't need it, don't want it, don't really care about the related privacy issues either as I'm keeping my nose clean and wonder what makes everyone else so tense about this feature as they must be hiding something :)
I'm keeping my nose clean and wonder what makes everyone else so tense about this feature as they must be hiding something
It's not about hiding, it's about privacy. Those in the US have a right to that. My searches may be totally innocent, but I'd prefer to keep a search for the new Clay Aiken album private. :-)
It's not about hiding, it's about privacy. Those in the US have a right to that.
When I was a kid we had a PARTY LINE for our phone and we only lived 3 miles outside of town, 4 families on the line, 35 years later that seems MEDEIVAL, but I was in the US and sure didn't seem to have that privacy right you claim I had at the time. Sadly I'll bet half the people crying about privacy concerns in this very forum are often voiced by people still using 900Mhz phones (can YOU say PARTY LINE?) where anyone within range can eavesdrop on your call as I used to hear my neighbors all the time before I switched to 5.8Ghz spread spectrum. How easy? Unplug your base station and turn on your phone and VOILA! you hear the neighbors :)
Guess my only argument is why people expect more privacy online than they expect in the real world?
You lost your privacy to corporations YEARS before the internet when you accepted your first charge card. The credit card companies, banks and stores compile just as much information (if not more) that can be "mined" as the search engines and we gleefully let them do it as we run from store to store to adult bookstores, night clubs, gun swap meets and brothels swiping our cards as fast as we can go so our habits are tracked.
Then the phone company records every incoming and outgoing call you make and keeps it for eons. Not to mention the libraries know what books you checked out, the bookstores know what books you bought unless you paid cash so why in the heck would a utility Google makes threaten your privacy any further?
Perhaps it's the fact that the computer is in the house that the sense of "privacy" seems higher but the fact is further from the truth. About the only thing you can usually rely on are SSL communications are usually secure (assuming the destination server isn't hacked and you didn't get trapped in a phishing meta redirector site) and MOST modern ecommerce sites fully encrypt your credit card data although I know some idiot merchants that have the transaction EMAILed in plain text to their inbox including credit card data for processing offline.
I think companies and the feds already have so many ways to look at what you do already that worrying about Google Search History is just silly.
I'd prefer to keep a search for the new Clay Aiken album private
If it's not any better than his xmas album it will be my last Clay album but I digress....
How can you claim to have a reasonable expectation of privacy from the party you are dealing directly with, and to whom you are directly providing all the information that they are tracking?
I you don't want them to know your name, don't provide it to them. If you don't want them to associate your search habbits with your adwords account, take positive steps to keep that from happening. Use different browsers for dealing with each.
I'm guessing that some of those complaining the loudest will occasionally send unencrypted email, just as I am sometimes willing to have Google keep track of certain searches.
You know that google tracks these things, so if you continue to use Google wighout taking positive steps to protect your privacy, then you have no reasonable expectation to privacy, so you have no right to that privacy.