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The Google toolbar is now installed by default on machines from: Dell, HP, GateWay, eMachines, and dozens of related brands. It is also being tagged onto other software packages. The mass majority of new machines coming online are now installed with Google software by default.
Actually removing tinfoil hat I don't believe in any way Google is deliberately out to spy on me personally, or humanity in general. Nevertheless the steady buildup of data in a jurisdiction outside of my influence, which is associated with a particular web-usage profile, and which in turn can quite often be associated with a particular person, does leave me with an increasingly uneasy feeling. Even though I'm a tech-savvy person who proactively takes care of his (or her ;-) online identity.
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The issue is that they're seeding the capability for a massive wrongdoing. They're making it 'ok' and even 'cool and trendy' for you to fork over 100% consumer data. Last time I checked, making my identity searchable to a clandestine private company was the last thing you were supposed to do.
Doesn't that bother anybody, at least on principle, that they're training everyone to be lazy with their identity? Maybe I've read too many Philip K. Dick novels but I think consumers deserve accountability and I don't see ANY coming out of Google . . . just promises that they're not going to 'do evil.' Hints too omenously of irony for my blood.
What is the problem? It says exactly what it does, and you have to deliberately install it.
Browser Sync tool is not part of the Google toolbar but rather is a Firefox extension which must be deliberately installed.
True. Moreover, you have the option in the installer/preferences to configure exactly which data it synchronizes, to encrypt the remotely stored information and to temporarily turn the extension off without uninstalling the plugin.
On the other hand, I wonder if it's tracking browser history? You must be logged-in to a Google account in order to use the service which means that any information it does collect can be associated with an individual person...
"WARNING! At this time we are unsure how we might use your data. We will decide that in the future. Proceed at own risk."
It should be bold and outlined in a border-box just like the Surgeon General's warning on US cigarette packs. This stuff toasts me.
You just know the government will be dying to get their hands on search history. I mean, c'mon...
NSA wiretaps ring a bell?
Again, the point isn't that this particular Firefox plug-in is a spying bug, nobody is saying that . . . the point is we're getting really sloppy with our private information, basically trading it in for technology that doesn't really benefit us tremendously. It's great that somebody invented this plug-in but it's terrible that we're getting so comfortable forfeiting our personal security.
As another poster mentioned, it's almost as is people are walking blindly into a situation where there is general acceptance that G can get their hands on any and all information concerning us, our surfing habits, our site and so on, and on, and on...
too much paranoia is a bad thing ;)
It's not paranoia, it's identity management. For the same reason that I carefully destroy any papers with personal information that I throw away - it's highly unlikely that anyone is going to go through my trash to either steal my identity or spy on me, but I'm not going to take the chance.
The same with online activity: as I said, I don't believe Google actually wants to spy on me or anything, but they could theoretically collect all sorts of information about me, and that information could some day get into the wrong hands.
Must stop writing now and go out and see what those masked men jumping out of the black helicopter want from me.
the point is we're getting really sloppy with our private information, basically trading it in for technology that doesn't really benefit us tremendously. It's great that somebody invented this plug-in but it's terrible that we're getting so comfortable forfeiting our personal security.
We really are training a whole generation to be sloppy. Does anyone realize that there is actually a US law on the books that makes it illegal to require someone to use their SS# as an account ID, or even a student ID in schools?
I'm betting that comes as a surprise to more than a few, but the reality is that so few even think twice about giving this stuff up.
The only disagreement I have with the privacy regime at Google is they do their best to have you use a single Google Account for everything. For many people the Google Account may well not contain any personally identifying information - but for the bulk of webmasters it will. It will be linked to your Adwords and Adsense accounts which have both been security verified to confirm your actual identity, as well being clearly linked to your sites via Google Analytics and Google Sitemaps.
It would be nice if Google could at least promise that they will never cross-reference Adsense/Adwords/Sitemaps/Analytics with any of our other user data by linking up the Google Accounts.
In other words, no historical data whatsoever.
Add the encryption option to that and it is very clear that Google's intent is not to data mine or spy on anyone with the information stored by this particular service.
You're risking your privacy in a far bigger way (which is to say realisticly not all that much) by using Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, GMail, etc... Amazing how much perspectives have changed.
It's entertaining to imagine, if somehow online email accounts had never been introduced all those years ago, the horrified outcry we would hear if Google tried to launch that kind of service now. At Webmaster World anyway. ;-)