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Google Toolbar and Privacy (part 2)



6:06 pm on Dec 23, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Continued from Part 1 [webmasterworld.com]

You're being too concerned about the toolbar.
1. Google is very, very explicit about the privacy implications of the toolbar. If you don't like the PageRank feature, then they have gone out of their way to provide an alternate version.
2. Some people, such as myself, find the PageRank useful. Not as an indicator of the rank of my page in their search engine (the toolbar is designed for end users, not web masters). I like the PageRank because it gives me an indication of the quality of a page. If I'm going to make an online purchase and the homepage of the site in question has a very, very low PageRank that would cause me to think twice about that site's reputability. For me, the value of the PageRank feature is binary: it's eitehr high or low. Sites seems to fluctuate: sometimes they're 4, the next day 5, after that 3. Nobody wants to have a PageRank to 4 significant digits while they're surfing. That's useless.

I suppose it would be a good idea if they offered an option to turn the Automatic updates off. Personally, I like the "it just works" functionality of autoupdating. It's one less thing that I have to worry about. However, I'd like to at least have a *log* of when my toolbar was updated. You're right, that aspect of the toolbar should be worked on.

However, overall, the toolbar is very well done. It's the main reason why I continue to use Internet Explorer and haven't switched to Mozilla. I hope that they release the toolbar for Netscap6.


7:25 pm on Dec 23, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>>> You're being too concerned about the toolbar.
1. Google is very, very explicit about the privacy implications of the toolbar. If you don't like the PageRank feature, then they have gone out of their way to provide an alternate version. <<<

With all due respect - they have not. Their privacy policy says:

We won't give it to anyone else with a court order or unless otherwise required by law.

It does not say - what THEY CAN DO WITH IT.

There is no reason they can make a page (for either you or them that says):

USER# 123
TIME 12:01 est Searched for "Usama Bin Laden"
TIME 12:02 est Searched for "How to make a nuclear bomb"

I, and so does everyone else here, understand that they have to send data about site Y to google to get the PR and Category of that page.

But THEY COULD offer a privacy mode - where these features are enabled, but not activated unless you press a button.

In this Privacy mode - The PR BAR could be 3d and same with the category book. Then WHEN YOU WANT TO KNOW the PR - press the button and it will find out for you.

If Google starts collecting CT Info more often - they could encode the PR in these as well - so that no communication from the Bar is necessary.

I really do think they will use this for a customized SERP. I would be willing to bet $5.00 we will see one in 18 months of less.

Until then the benefits are small to most consumers, and many may not see the benefits even then.


6:54 am on Dec 24, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Like prowsej says, Toolbar is nice for users
1) You forgot to mentiln, that you can search with that fastly. Not the webmasters, but usual users! All of you speak about the PR, but none about the search field :) THAT IS THE KEY BENEFIT FOR THE USER!!!
2) Yes, PR is good for usual visitor - they see how the site is popular!!!

Remember, the Toolbar is not for the webmaster.
Yes, autoupdates is NO GOOD!!

They have not braked any rules, as they say : "Yes, we have to get some info from you to return the PR".
Yes, cookies for 2038 is no good.. I agree...

But guys, Google is VERY IMPORTANT! How do you check your PR otherwise than Toolbar?? Yes, PRMaster is the way... But I am not sure all the webmasters around the world know about that!

BTW, any new versions ?? :)

Thank you!


8:17 am on Dec 24, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Our local Google apologist Chris_R put it very well: Google's main intention is most probably to use the collected data to customize search results according to a particular user's interests. So when you search for "red hat", you wouldn't see redhat.com in number one if Google finds out that you are really looking for red hats (for your head) from your past searches. I see nothing wrong with this attitude. As a matter of fact, this is really a great thing for both users and advertisers. Users will get right results and see right advertisements. So nobody will waste time or money. I don't think Google will do anything with private data that would jeopardize their good image in the eyes of the public.

Everyman: maybe it's time to try to see Google's good qualities.


9:30 am on Dec 24, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It is simple, keep the toolbar on IE, and surf with Opera.


4:08 pm on Dec 24, 2001 (gmt 0)

I just noticed that this 8-month-old thread that I started got resurrected yesterday.

I encourage any Google-specific discussions to continue in this thread, but in the last few months I've been even more concerned about Internet surveillance by the feds in the wake of new laws and new initiatives.

I've started a non-Google thread on this topic here:


I'll say this -- if Google and the feds ever get together, publicly or secretly, it will be time to pack it in and go back to Morse code (been a ham operator for 40 years).


4:51 pm on Dec 24, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The toolbar is nice for the user - I agree with that. And I would use it either way (webmaster or user). I see te problem as not being with the search box.

Even without the toolbar google knows what searches you are making.

The problem with the toolbar is it knows every site you go to. It is very inconvenient to keep disabling and reenabling it.

It ONLY needs to communicate when a search is done (Advanced or otherwise) or when you want to know the PR/CAT of a page.

Google is able to tie specific people most of the time to searches. If you think they can't - you are wrong.

Many times a personals personal information is included in the url as a form submission.

Since Google has yet to take up the Custom SERP idea - it would be nice if their privacy policy was more clear. What do they plan to do with it?

They collect:
Toolbar Serial Number
Search Terms
Sites Visited

I have no problem with Search Terms and Sites Visited - as long as it isn't tied into my toolbar # or IP address. If it is - I want to know what benefit there is for me?

I might - as well might others - be willing to give up this data for the advantages of custom SERP, but right now - there is no advantage for me in giving them this data.

They also played tricks with statistics for the first time (That I know of):


First Graph

We need to keep them on their toes - so they don't get swayed over to the dark side. We need to be ObiWan to Luke Skywalker - and do a better job than he did with Anakin.


7:15 pm on Dec 24, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If I install two separate versions of MSIE, 5.5 and 6.0, and only install the toolbar for one of the two versions, can I use the other version of MSIE "privately"?

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