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Google Updates Desktop

Google Desktop 3 includes search across multiple computers



5:23 am on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Google updates desktop search tools

"Search for files across all your computers"
"Share information with your friends right from the Sidebar"



3:13 pm on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

...To enable the computer-to-computer search function, a user specifies what information should be indexed and then agrees to allow Google to transfer the material to its own storage system. Google plans to encrypt all data transferred from users' hard drives and restrict access to just a handful of its employees. The company says it won't peruse any of the transferred information.



6:04 pm on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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USA TODAY: Google's newest search tool raises privacy concerns [yahoo.usatoday.com]

Internet search giant Google, which raised eyebrows when it fought the Department of Justice's attempts to monitor personal search queries, today unveils a new desktop search tool that accesses more private records than ever — of those who choose to use it.


6:11 pm on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"transfers data to it's own storage system"
Great...just great...what a wonderful invention. I always wanted my really useful files available both at home and office, and I wanted them on a public storage that can be subpoenaed anytime. Now, where were those bank account details....


7:40 pm on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Seriously I am surprised they put this out so soon after the whole Yahoo! and MSN giving away our personal info.

Great way to give the goverment more information when they decide they want it.


10:45 pm on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Seriously I am surprised they put this out so soon after the whole Yahoo! and MSN giving away our personal info.

Because - in general - people have a very short memory.
Have a read through the Gbuy thread and note how most are very pleased this new service is coming while not linking this service to the collection by G of more personal data.


4:05 am on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

From EFF:
"Google Copies Your Hard Drive - Government Smiles in Anticipation"

"Coming on the heels of serious consumer concern about government snooping into Google's search logs, it's shocking that Google expects its users to now trust it with the contents of their personal computers," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "Unless you configure Google Desktop very carefully, and few people will, Google will have copies of your tax returns, love letters, business records, financial and medical files, and whatever other text-based documents the Desktop software can index. The government could then demand these personal files with only a subpoena rather than the search warrant it would need to seize the same things from your home or business, and in many cases you wouldn't even be notified in time to challenge it. Other litigants—your spouse, your business partners or rivals, whoever—could also try to cut out the middleman (you) and subpoena Google for your files."



5:22 am on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

now I want to remove GDS incase it transfers my files to their hard drives. Some setting somewhere may do that.


5:24 pm on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Seriuosly, I think this is a horrible timing and I am not the only one worried. A month ago I might not have been against it.

Just lets be happy Google didnt come out with this earlier.


7:57 pm on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The following are my opinions based on experience and history of dealing/knowing Google. They reflect the possible reasons about why Google is so eager to index your hard drive on it's servers and the possible (huge) benefits to Google. These are not the opinions of my employer. You may or may not agree (that's up to you).

The new Desktop feature is not so much about offering users a great service. It's more about Google being able to predict more efficiently what type of ads users would click on.

Predicting what ads to show to consumers
So for example, lets say Joe uses Google Desktop Search Feature and as a result has the contents of his hard drive(s) stored on Google's server. Google can then not only actively monitor what content Joe has on his computer but also what content Joe created or accessed recently. If Joe, for instance, recently created or downloaded five documents about "web hosting", Google could predict that wherever Joe goes online, "web hosting" ads would be the ones that Joe is most likely to click on. Predicting users demand in this way can help Google rake in billions at the cost of mine and your privacy.

On the other hand if a user creates documents about pregnancy, or mentions keywords about "pregnancy" in their recent documents, Google could guess that the user is most likely to click on "pregnancy" related ads.

As a consultant I am surprised to see how many people use the same password for multiple services, which is a very insecure practice. Some of these passwords are shared with other people (such as a web site owner who may share his passwords with his webmaster).

People who follow such insecure practice may open their entire computers to prying eyes, thanks to Google Desktop Search.

ZDNET quotes Peter Sommers, a research fellow at LSE.

"If a law enforcement agency wants this information from Google, legally they're entitled to do that provide they comply with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. From a practical perspective, law enforcement agencies are always looking for places where they can get a great deal of information without much effort."



11:44 pm on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've been thinking more about this - Why? Dunno. - and have a few thoughts to add to the discussion.

  • Google has previously had "issues" when storing user-"submitted" data - the initial roll-out of Analytics comes to mind. (Am I right in thinking Gmail did too?) What happens if you can't download your data because Google is swamped? Obviously, nothing.

  • What a great way to transfer data, not between computers, but between people - from friends to terrorists. Did you know that Adobe's PDF - one of the filetypes Google will transfer - is the chosen format for al Qaida's newsletters, magazines & training manuals? Little surprise - that's what millions use PDF for. How long until perverts are MIME-64ing their pr0n into textfiles (or embedding in Word or PDF documents) and using Google as a vector for distribution?

  • If I switch the file extension from ".mp3" to ".txt", can I transfer my music collection? It occurs to me that GDS could be using FTP to transfer the files, so you then end up with text versus binary upload problems. So, what if I rename files with a binary filetype extension? Are there issues with transferring my (malformed) "spreadsheet" collection?

  • The GDS T&C. Skipping missing periods, missing links, missing buttons and unlinked links...

    • If I'm in, say Norway, and I speak English, which takes precedence? The Norway EULA in Norwegian, or the linked English language EULA (which is actually the American EULA)? In a Norwegian court, the Norwegian language EULA (I should think). So why isn't the linked English language EULA a proper English translation of the Norwegian EULA? After all, the two EULAs - Norwegian & English languages - are different. (And this is the case for most (all?) the non-English language EULAs.) Why doesn't the English language EULA identify itself as being the American EULA? That "In your language" heading - when used - is deceptively wrong.

    • Is it true? Are users in some countries, such as Australia, Canada & Germany, not going to receive future automatic updates? There is nothing in these EULAs about it.

    • The "Distribution" section (if it appears in "your" EULA). Nutshelling, you can redistribute with Google's permission. Software with this power & potential really should only be available from the source - Google - or a "trusted" third party such as Download.com (where it is available). How hard & how long before some kid (or criminal organisation) rigs a copy of GDS to send data to their server, and posts it on an innocuous-looking site for your downloading pleasure?

    • The "Consent to Collect Non-Personal Information" section & the separate "GDS Privacy Policy." While not bad, it would be much better if these sections explicitly pointed out that if you use the "Search Across Computers" feature, your Word document resume that's sitting on Google's servers may contain personally-identifiable information.

    • Speaking of the GDS Privacy Policy; Why, if I uninstall GDS and have data on Google's servers, could it take "up to 60 days before being deleted"? Now I understand that deletion of anything is an anathema for Google, but saying that it could take months before we get around to deleting your data is some serious foot-dragging. Google needs to upgrade from overworked gerbils to robust hampsters - then it should take only a month, at most.

    • Complete aside: On the Italian T&C page ([desktop.google.com ]), the fifth heading - "Norme sulla privacy di Google [...]" - the "i" in "privacy" isn't bolded, even though it's inside a <b> tag. Select & deselect the word, and it's bolded. Reload the page, bolding gone. This is a IE6 "feature" I'm not familiar with.

  • Who supplies Google's servers & storage? That's a stock to invest in!
  • Brett_Tabke

    12:50 pm on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

    The problem with Google releasing so many products and updates is that stuff like this gets lost in the noise.

    Wow, this update is a very significant development. Still trying to understand the fallout here.

    Was this update automatically pushed out to users without their knowledge?


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