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How Do I Keep My Privacy While Using Google?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the encrypt-your-search-terms dept.

Google 533

hubert.lepicki writes "I use Google all the time. I keep two GMail tabs open when I'm online (one is private, another is a corporate account), I use Google search, and recently I switched to the Chromium browser. Google's services are fast, easy to use and usually reliable. At the same time, I know Google is tracking everything I do; I can see it in search results or their ads on web pages, which tend to match my interests. After the recent post by Mozilla's community director suggesting Bing has a better privacy policy (a response to questionable comments from Google CEO Eric Schmidt), I started to... 'google' ways of keeping my private data safe while browsing and using Google services. The results weren't very helpful, so I ask you, Slashdotters: how do I stay anonymous to Google while using their services?"

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Ideas (4, Interesting)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424740)

TrackMeNot [nyu.edu] for Firefox is useful for masking your real search engine queries with randomised search terms. That's a start. Not sure if there's a Chrome equivalent. Is Chrome that much of a necessity? Firefox does the job (though it freezes far too often for me). Otherwise, why not exercise some self-constraint and try products from Yahoo, or even host your own? (First post? :P)

Re:Ideas (2, Informative)

SlashDotDotDot (1356809) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424802)

Open two different browsers, say Chrome and Firefox. Use one to log in to your email, but nothing else. In the other, never log in to Google services. It certainly doesn't solve the whole problem, but it is trivially easy and has no serious drawbacks.

Re:Ideas (4, Informative)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424912)

Open two different browsers, say Chrome and Firefox. Use one to log in to your email, but nothing else. In the other, never log in to Google services. It certainly doesn't solve the whole problem, but it is trivially easy and has no serious drawbacks.

Same IP address at the same time...

Re:Ideas (2, Interesting)

bytesex (112972) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425084)

Yeah, but that's not really going to be reliable, is it ? For them, I mean. Do they have their intelligence into IP address space allocation so far advanced that they'll be able to tell the difference between an individually held IP address and one that's doin' a whole lot a nattin' ?

Re: You're forgetting the most important thing (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424954)

IMPORTANT: You have to disable cookies on google to make sure that they can't build a history of all your searches. Otherwise you can be easily pinpointed if you ever search for your own name or that of someone close to you. Preferably also use a dynamic IP address.

Re:Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30425004)

I've been doing this exact thing... only I use a site specific browser (prism in my case) to have gmail and google calendar open. If I log into analytics or adsense, I log back out when I am done.

Other than that, I use Adblock Plus and Ghostery in Firefox for some added blockage. :-) Yes, I block my own ads, and I don't care if others block them too.

Other things that one can do is regularly clean the cache and cookies, or search using a wide range of search engines (bing, cuil, clusty, google, etc)...

Get even crazier by blocking javascript and cookies all together!

The ultimate paranoid person would do the following everytime they wanted to do a search:

1. Reboot on a second install of your OS of choice

2. Plug in a USB wifi card that you only use for this purpose

3. Get on an open access point that isn't your own (coffee shop, library, etc)

4. Use a free proxy / vpn service (that you don't have to sign up for)

5. Search

6. Format the partition, and reinstall the OS

7. Reboot

Re:Ideas (2, Interesting)

zblack_eagle (971870) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425156)

If I were a paranoid person I wouldn't bother with the installing, formatting and reinstalling. I'd just use a livecd

Re:Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424820)

Humans aren't random. Random searches can be separated from human searches with the same tools that Google uses to categorize other information.

If you're serious about making your searches anonymous, first turn off Javascript and plugins, then use TOR. Googling is a low-bandwidth activity, so TOR's performance isn't that much of a nuisance.

Re:Ideas (1)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424822)

Sticking with the theme of Firefox extensions there is also customize google, it does more than search too. http://www.customizegoogle.com/ [customizegoogle.com]

Re:Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424888)

Tried to install this, got a "not compatible with FireFox 3.5" error.

Re:Ideas (1)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424950)

Tried to install this, got a "not compatible with FireFox 3.5" error.

I'm using it right now on Firefox 3.5.5, not sure why it would give you that error.

Re:Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30425030)

Because the extension was last updated eight months before the release of Firefox 3.5?

Re:Ideas (-1, Flamebait)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424884)

Firefox does the job (though it freezes far too often for me).

There is *NOTHING* wrong with Firefox. What you are experiencing is *user error*. There's a simple fix: it requires a specific text file that you'll need to edit, clear a few ini variables, then restart. You could have Googled this.

Re:Ideas (5, Funny)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424948)

Wow!

Your post is so specific and yet almost completely unhelpful at the same time.

Re:Ideas (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30425040)

There is *NOTHING* wrong with Firefox.

Firefox is a great program, but there are many things wrong with it.

My pet peeve is when you have 5 windows open, with 5 different web pages, all firefox windows will freeze if your DNS server takes a while to respond to a query. I can understand how one window with one webpage with the slow DNS query should pause (since firefox can't do much to display a webpage if it's waiting for the DNS server), but why all of them?

Re:Ideas (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425122)

Use tabs instead of windows. Tabs don't freeze like that.

Re:Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30425126)

I agree with him... people who have issues with Firefox, have issues with Firefox due to user error. A clean install, on a clean OS, with working hardware doesn't have these issues.

Re:Ideas (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424886)

This is like a steer asking, "how can I keep getting this free food and board without being taken to the slaughter house later?"

To Google, you are the product. They are selling advertising. More specifically, they are selling your attention to marketers. Giving you privacy is contradictory to the entire purpose of their existence. They give you nice, fast, free stuff to keep you hooked in to their services and to keep collecting more data so that they can sell more advertising.

There is no privacy using Google services. There never will be. They will keep encroaching into your private info as far as you let them.

Re:Ideas (4, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424898)

Spread the confusion by always killing your cookies and use different browsers.

But personally I run my own mail server and use only Google for searching.

If you asked me... (4, Insightful)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424744)

If you asked me I would say resistance is futile unless you are ready to commit illegal actions.

You could always use anonymous services like scroogle fro searching but if I was a intelligence gathering organization, I would run such "anonymous services" myself so there is a risk that you might be followed even more by using such services.

Hacking into 10 machines and forwarding your connections through all of them might be a solution that will get you into trouble but that can be an efficient way to stay anonymous. But then again, intelligence gathering organizations might set up honey pots that you will end up using and you will bring even more attention to yourself this way.

So anyway:
> how do I stay anonymous to Google while using their services

is a really hard to answer question: There might be solutions for anonymous services like searching but for gmail and all other services that require you to log in, I would say forget it.

Intelligence gathering organizations have come to fully realize the potential of the Internet to track people, in contrast to the situation in the early 90s. Maybe Google CEO knows all about this and that he was just saying; you will be tracked anyway so you may as well be tracked by us ! He kind of screwed up on this because he is now stuck, unable to further explain his point of view, he would have to admit that Google, Bing and many other track you for business and marketing reasons but that they also "share" information with security oriented intelligence gathering organizations.

So in the end, I would choose who I want to be tracked by for marketing purposes and forget about not being tracked for other purposes unless you want to risk getting into trouble. You may be safer just acting as a normal day to day user thus making the amount of traffic play into your advantage in order to stay anonymous.

Re:If you asked me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424768)

You might as well ask..
How do I keep taking drugs without getting addicted?
or
How do I diet while I do no exercise and eat only lard & gravy?

Even routing all access of gOOgle services through a VPN in another country wont stop it.
gOOgle is getting more and more evil. They have always been so, they're just better at
hiding it behind a layer of bullshit & fanboy-ism than companies like microsoft. They're
no apPle but then no amount of money, market dominance and political influence can get you
religious fanaticism like that.

Re:If you asked me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424892)

...or scroogle ur way...

Privacy is the next killer ap (2, Insightful)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424904)

the person or persons who figure how to get the same value of all these services while protecting users' privacy is going to make a fortune.

Re:If you asked me... (2, Interesting)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424908)

What exactly are these illegal actions you're talking about? Using other people's WiFi? Sneaking onto other people's computers? I'm honestly curious as to what you meant.

Re:If you asked me... (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424928)

If you asked me I would say resistance is futile unless you are ready to commit illegal actions.

How do you know you aren't committing illegal actions [youtube.com] ?

Re:If you asked me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30425024)

Privacy on the internet is largely illusionary anyway, especially for things like email. As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn't write it on a postcard, you shouldn't put it in an email, because both are equally easy to read. In a way, maybe it's good that Google makes it plain they're tracking your every word and click, because perhaps that might subtly influence people into being more circumspect about what they do online. The data can come back to haunt you, so the only safe way to behave is not to do anything online that you wouldn't mind being tracked back to you. And that includes avoiding giving away any information that might potentially be useful to: stalkers, identity thieves, blackmailers, private detectives, tax agencies, burglars and other thieves, sellers of dodgy drugs, reporters and so on and so on. But it's really hard to keep all those possible security gaps closed unless you're very careful about what you give away all the time. But still, if you wouldn't do it with your mum/wife/best friend/boss/etc. looking over your shoulder, it's safest not to do it at all.

Re:If you asked me... (2, Interesting)

rackeer (1607869) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425114)

It's very easy to build something like scroogle yourself. You need a server with support for php (or maybe java or python) that performs your searches server side and there you go. Three years ago, with no knowledge of php to start with, I wrote a simple program to send and fetch queries to and from google in about a day. It didn't even use the google search API it just parsed the returned HTML. I think anybody who just looks at the search API could put something together very fast. In the (unlikely) case anybody should ever be interested in who is behind your server you can share your server publicly to increase anonymity.

Re:If you asked me... (5, Funny)

SBrach (1073190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425140)

Or you can just Opt Out [theonion.com]

TrackMeNot (4, Interesting)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424760)

Look up the TrackMeNot Firefox extension. It spams Google and the other search engines with randomly generated but plausible search queries, so there's no real way that any of these companies can build a profile on you. If you browse with ads, however, prepare for some really bizarre ones.

Re:TrackMeNot (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424922)

Because I just loooo-ooo-ove random ads instead of stuff I might actually be interested in.

Re:TrackMeNot (4, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425100)

"If you browse with ads, however, prepare for some really bizarre ones."

No problem. I Googled "blocking Google Ads" then set Firefox accordingly. :)

http://www.lancelhoff.com/blocking-google-adsense-ads/ [lancelhoff.com]

Why not... (2, Informative)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424766)

...ask google [google.com] ?!?

Tor? (5, Informative)

rvw (755107) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424772)

Why not use Tor for search queries? Your gmail is obviously a different story, because using Tor wouldn't make much difference for Google. So set Opera or Chrome to use Tor, and you're set for that part.

Re:Tor? (4, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425118)

Except for the fact that most Tor nodes are trojaned DoD machines, with all sorts of data->disk logging features. Or not. But how could you tell?

You don't (4, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424784)

Seriously.. despite all the controversy it has stirred up.. if you don't have anything to hide.. who cares

It's not that black and white.. but chances are unless you have some very disturbing fetish.. chances are "the stuff you don't want your boss to know" is fairly similar to 10 million other people.. to the point where you are just a tiny blip in a stats bucket. Your just search #234521 for "sex with staplers".

They arn't publishing your search history in the newspaper .. they are using it to increment a counter that you might be interested in office supply ads.

If you are really paranoid though.. use adblock.. route everything through tor.. disable cookies.. and be sure to encrypt your hard-drive with a 20 gazillion bit cypher.

Re:You don't (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424910)

20 gazillion bit cypher

where can I get one of these? I am doing lots of illegal things, and I dont want to ask Google - for obvious reasons :-)

Re:You don't (5, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424964)

They arn't publishing your search history in the newspaper ..

They are keeping it, and sharing it with secretive agencies. You may think you have nothing to hide, but you don't know which way the political wind will blow in the future. Maybe you'll be a dissident to those agencies later on...

Re:You don't (5, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424982)

Seriously.. despite all the controversy it has stirred up.. if you don't have anything to hide.. who cares

Welcome to the new Slashdot, where everything Google does is great, and only people with something to hide would care about privacy.

Re:You don't (0)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425086)

Privacy is super important, but not to the paranoid extents that I've seen some people go.

But if Privacy is *that* important, then don't use third party services. Don't use search engines, and don't use anything that connects to another computer.

Re:You don't (5, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425090)

only people with something to hide would care about privacy

An entirely correct position. The place where the argument breaks down is that there's nothing wrong with having something to hide. For example, I would very much prefer it if my Slashdot password remains a secret, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Re:You don't (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425174)

Welcome to the new Slashdot, where everything Google does is great, and only people with something to hide would care about privacy.

For people who don't 'get it', compare the situation to getting frisked by the police.
The principle is exactly the same, but the practical difference is that Google's invasion of privacy
causes you no inconvienence... which somehow makes it okay. Out of sight, out of mind.

Re:You don't (3, Insightful)

sgage (109086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425048)

"Seriously.. despite all the controversy it has stirred up.. if you don't have anything to hide.. who cares"

Ah, the old "if you have nothing to hide" argument. So, we don't need any expectations of any privacy.

To the degree that you really believe what you wrote there, you are an idiot.

Re:You don't (5, Interesting)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425130)

There was an old russian KGB adage which went something like "everyone has committed a crime, it's about who we decide to prosecute".

Hunters....yet again (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425142)

Seriously.. despite all the controversy it has stirred up.. if you don't have anything to hide.. who cares

Kinda sad that I have to post this for the second time in a week. Disclaimer: from Slashdot, not originally mine.

"Yeah! Hunters don't kill the *innocent* animals - they look for the shifty-eyed ones that are probably the criminal element of their species!"

"If the're not guilty, why are they running?"

  I wrote about this a while ago. Here's the text:

"If you haven't done anything wrong, what do you have to hide?"

Ever heard that one? I work in information security, so I have heard it more than my fair share. I've always hated that reasoning, because I am a little bit paranoid by nature, something which serves me very well in my profession. So my standard response to people who have asked that question near me has been "because I'm paranoid." But that doesn't usually help, since most people who would ask that question see paranoia as a bad thing to begin with. So for a long time I've been trying to come up with a valid, reasoned, and intelligent answer which shoots the holes in the flawed logic that need to be there.

And someone unknowingly provided me with just that answer today. In a conversation about hunting, somebody posted this about prey animals and hunters:
"Yeah! Hunters don't kill the *innocent* animals - they look for the shifty-eyed ones that are probably the criminal element of their species!"
but in a brilliant (and very funny) retort, someone else said:
"If the're not guilty, why are they running?"

Suddenly it made sense, that nagging thing in the back of my head. The logical reason why a reasonable dose of paranoia is healthy. Because it's one thing to be afraid of the TRUTH. People who commit murder or otherwise deprive others of their Natural Rights are afraid of the TRUTH, because it is the light of TRUTH that will help bring them to justice.

But it's another thing entirely to be afraid of hunters. And all too often, the hunters are the ones proclaiming to be looking for TRUTH. But they are more concerned with removing any obstactles to finding the TRUTH, even when that means bulldozing over people's rights (the right to privacy, the right to anonymity) in their quest for it. And sadly, these people often cannot tell the difference between the appearance of TRUTH and TRUTH itself. And these, the ones who are so convinced they have found the TRUTH that they stop looking for it, are some of the worst oppressors of Natural Rights the world has ever known.

They are the hunters, and it is right and good for the prey to be afraid of the hunters, and to run away from them. Do not be fooled when a hunter says "why are you running from me if you have nothing to hide?" Because having something to hide is not the only reason to be hiding something.

another relevant concern being indirect usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424786)

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/09/11/24/2210224/Google-Analytics-May-Be-Illegal-In-Germany?art_pos=1

scroogle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424800)

check scroogle...

What's the big deal? (2, Insightful)

White Shade (57215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424808)

I guess in the end I fail to see what the big deal is.

As long as Google isn't selling my financial data to unscrupulous persons and having me get billed all kinds of money for things I don't want, or creating a dossier on all the weird shit I've searched for and forwarding it to my boss, what's the big deal?

So what if some marketers know everything about what I like to buy or look for? How, in the end, does that really affect my life? Yes, it's a bit creepy sometimes, but it makes no impact on my quality of life.

What *does* freak me out is how my credit card company can ask me to confirm my height and weight when I talk to them on the phone, and when I ask them how the f**k they found out how much I weigh, they tell me that by law they're allowed to download all the information from the Department of Transit and so they know everything that's on my drivers license. THAT's the kind of stuff that I find extremely scary, and that's the kind of thing you can't do anything at all to prevent other than living in a shack in the mountains somewhere.

Re:What's the big deal? (5, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425016)

As long as Google isn't selling my financial data to unscrupulous persons and having me get billed all kinds of money for things I don't want, or creating a dossier on all the weird shit I've searched for and forwarding it to my boss, what's the big deal?

My, my. Slashdot sure has changed.

If you let it slide that a company tracks everything you do, that then becomes the norm, and you no longer have any privacy anywhere. The opportunities for exploitation of this data are too numerous to list. You don't know whether or not Google is selling your data to unscrupulous persons, and with a CEO who says only wrongdoers have something to worry about when it comes to privacy, chances are that advertisers know all about you at this point.

What *does* freak me out is how my credit card company can ask me to confirm my height and weight when I talk to them on the phone, and when I ask them how the f**k they found out how much I weigh, they tell me that by law they're allowed to download all the information from the Department of Transit and so they know everything that's on my drivers license. THAT's the kind of stuff that I find extremely scary, and that's the kind of thing you can't do anything at all to prevent other than living in a shack in the mountains somewhere.

Let me get this straight. It's okay for a company to index all your information so that advertisers know everything you do, but it's "scary" when a credit card company does a good thing and uses info on your driver's license as a security confirmation over the phone? Are you for real?

Re:What's the big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30425058)

Insurance is the big deal.

Your searches for "what is that red rash on my penis", "discount overseas pharmaceuticals" or "bulk bacon free shipping" will not make your health insurer very happy.

Google UK (1)

i-like-burritos (1532531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424816)

I don't know if there's anything you can do to stop them from tracking you when you're using their browser. If you're using a different browser though, you can avoid having your search queries associated with your gmail account by using a different country's google for the searches. I stay logged into my gmail all the time, and I use google.co.uk for all my searches.

Easy. (2, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424818)

Block Javascript, block all Google cookies, have no Google accounts. Occasionally permit scripts and cookies for long enough to look at a map (oh, and also block all advertising with Privoxy).

Works for me, but I don't think I'm quite Google's idea of an ideal user (that's *user*, not *customer*).

scroogle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424824)

http://www.scroogle.org/ is a google screen scraper that doesn't pass google cookies or IP data on searches. It sends search requests as from itself and strips out cookies and ads and forwards results to your browser. They have a firefox plugin to set it as a search engine in the search bar.

You Don't (4, Interesting)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424828)

If you are logged into gmail you cannot possibly retain your privacy.

Short of deleting all google cookies and changing your ip after using gmail you cannot retain your privacy.

Not exactly what you want, but (5, Funny)

paulthomas (685756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424830)

# cat > /etc/hosts
> google.com 127.0.0.1
> doubleclick.net 127.0.0.1
> youtube.com 127.0.0.1
> google-analytics.com 127.0.0.1
> # ...
> EOF

Re:Not exactly what you want, but (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424924)

Slashdot ate my <s and >s.

# cat << EOF >> /etc/hosts
> google.com 127.0.0.1
> doubleclick.net 127.0.0.1
> youtube.com 127.0.0.1
google-analytics.com 127.0.0.1
> # ...
>

Logs + Google's machine learning expertise make this the only (nearly) foolproof suggestion.

Re:Not exactly what you want, but (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424946)

You're an idiot

Disable cookies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424832)

Well, first thing would be to disable cookies for Google. I've done this long time ago because I got a bit scared of how much Google knows about me (search works fine without cookies, you can pass search preferences as URL parameters). Then I use a VPN that provides a random IP every time. I believe this should be enough to prevent them from identifying me and/or linking my searches. Right?

Truth is, there is no privacy anywhere. (4, Insightful)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424842)

Thanks to 9/11 there arent anywhere on the world you can expect any privacy. Not online, not offline, not your medical records, your purchases, your bills or anything else thats in electronic form are private.

Weather you use Bing, Hotmail, Gmail, Google doesnt matter the least bit since ALL of them logs everything and have to keep it and release it at any governments whim. The differences between them are highly superficial and has zero importance in reality. The terms of service from the different vendors are worth about, not a damn thing. They have to log everything and have to release whatever a court or intelligence agency wants released.

If you dont want it read and scrutinized, dont put it online. Period.

Re:Truth is, there is no privacy anywhere. (2, Insightful)

SinShiva (1429617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424978)

Don't even think about typing what you want kept secret. that's the first step on the path to idiocy. contrary to popular belief, the telephone was actually invented BEFORE the internet.

lastly, don't trust any computer but your own if you're saavy enough to trust your computer. and more importantly, you shouldn't trust security software anymore than you would a virus with your personal information. software meant to secure your information and computer is meant for the paranoid, not the security conscious.

to be secure is a state of mind, not something you can simply buy or use.

Re:Truth is, there is no privacy anywhere. (2, Interesting)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425160)

They have to log everything

No. No they don't. If they do log it, then they may have to release it to a court or whatever, but I can say quite definitely that logging is not (yet) mandatory.

TANSTAAFL (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424844)

Slashdotters: how do I stay anonymous to Google while using their services?

TANSTAAFL

If you don't want to pay the price for using their services, don't use their services.

Dear Slashdot (5, Funny)

pavon (30274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424848)

I use my butler Jeeves for everything. He arranges my travel, does my bills, and picks up anything I need from the store. He is fast, courteous and usually reliable. At the same time I know that he is aware of everything I do; I can see it in the way he can often provide suggestions which tend to match my interests. Do to some misplaced comments of his, I am now suspicious that he may not respect my privacy. How do I remain anonymous from my butler while still having him provide all the personal services that I am accustomed to?

Re:Dear Slashdot (2, Insightful)

SinShiva (1429617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425028)

that's always been the truth; security is very much inversely proprotional to convenience. and most (99.999%) people want nothing more with your information than to provide all the best services you would like to use.

Security isn't the joke on the internet, the ones expecting it are.

You shouldn't be asking yourself how to be more secure, but who you are trying to secure your information from. If you are trying to secure your information from the government, you have no more problems than an overinflated ego.

Re:Dear Slashdot (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425044)

I use my butler Jeeves for everything. He arranges my travel, does my bills, and picks up anything I need from the store. He is fast, courteous and usually reliable. At the same time I know that he is aware of everything I do; I can see it in the way he can often provide suggestions which tend to match my interests. Do to some misplaced comments of his, I am now suspicious that he may not respect my privacy. How do I remain anonymous from my butler while still having him provide all the personal services that I am accustomed to?

You need a RAIB, often redundantly described as a RAIB array.

"Redundant Array of Inexpensive Butlers"

The worst privacy problem is cross correlating otherwise innocent isolated activities. Using multiple butlers prevents them from cross correlating. Of course, they may collude behind your back.

Re:Dear Slashdot (3, Informative)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425078)

It's funny you should mention Jeeves, since the site formerly known as Ask Jeeves [ask.com] actually has better options for privacy (see the "AskEraser" feature in the upper right).

Re:Dear Slashdot (1)

Tranzistors (1180307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425088)

How do I remain anonymous from my butler[..]?

Google is not a butler, more like anonymous service provider, like train ticket seller or waitress. With people it is simple - each of them don't know much about you and they forget. It is hard to do data mining on people and there is the privacy.

Now imagine, that every person that services you is the same person, who doesn't forget. The guy who serves food on the table for you and your spouse is the same, who sold you fetish porn 10 years ago (and remembers it was you).

Back to butlers, yes, they are creepy and judging from British crime novels - serious threat to privacy.

Don't use Google. :) (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424850)

Use adblock plus to block google analytics, don't use any social networking sites...

Honestly, your best bet would be to get off the internet at this point.

Scroogle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424852)

Use Scroogle scraper. Your searches should then not be cross-referenceable against your use of other google services.

http://scroogle.org/

why do you feel entilted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424854)

Why should you be receiving their services without you giving something of value to them?

Proxies are not going to help (1)

Avtar (413895) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424860)

Using proxy services is not going to help as Google has access to your emails, which have a lot of data specific only to you.

Also if you keep Gmail open all day, you are almost certainly logged into the search page with cookies which make the proxies useless.

Your best bet is to use Google dashboard ( https://www.google.com/dashboard/ [google.com] ) to delete your search history until you can find a better solution.

Use Scroogle.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424866)

I use the cool firefox addon at: scroogle.org and obviously adblock plus that gets rid of those annoying ads. If you ask me I still try to figure out WHO on earth clicks on them, but this aside...

I've using the thing at scroogle.org for a few years now and a part from not being traceable by google while logged on gmail you get the first 100 results for a query that's a distinctive plus to me.

HTH

You could do it yourself. (4, Funny)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424880)

Do a search on whatever you're interested in. Then precede those searches with something completely random,like airplanes and explosives. Do your search on whatever you want and then follow it up with a search on say, "Islam".

No one will pay any attention.

Re:You could do it yourself. (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424936)

Do a search on whatever you're interested in. Then precede those searches with something completely random,like airplanes...

Mod NoYob +5 "Scary+Funny"

Write a script to do it! (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424994)

Something like:

import random, time, os
t = 300
while 1:
    time.sleep(t)
    t = random.randrange(800)
    dictfile = open('dictionary','r')
    dictlines = d.readlines()
    line = dl[random.randrange(len(dl))]
    x = "wget -0 - http://www.google.ca/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=" + line
    c = os.popen(x)
    p = c.read()
   

Re:You could do it yourself. (1)

sgage (109086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425010)

Achmed The Dead Terrorist sez:

"I keel you!"

PS - If you like Fukitol, you'll love damnitall!

For a simple answer to the question... (4, Funny)

Old Flatulent 1 (1692076) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424902)

Justs Google it....oops!

Bing? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424906)

Ned: Phil? Hey, Phil? Phil! Phil Connors? Phil Connors, I thought that was you!
Phil: Hi, how you doing? Thanks for watching.
[Starts to walk away]
Ned: Hey, hey! Now, don't you tell me you don't remember me because I sure as heckfire remember you.
Phil: Not a chance.
Ned: Ned... Ryerson. "Needlenose Ned"? "Ned the Head"? C'mon, buddy. Case Western High. Ned Ryerson: I did the whistling belly-button trick at the high school talent show? Bing! Ned Ryerson: got the shingles real bad senior year, almost didn't graduate? Bing, again. Ned Ryerson: I dated your sister Mary Pat a couple times until you told me not to anymore? Well?
Phil: Ned Ryerson?
Ned: Bing!
Phil: Bing.

You shouldn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424918)

You shouldn't The beauty of how good results are, is because it knows stuff about you. Not personally, but it knows your searching habbits (or in the case of Chrome, browsing habbits too).

No Free Lunch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424926)

Google is not giving you all this goodness, truly for free. Gmail and Search, and Maps (including what appears to be the best GPS navigation service around), and Docs, etc. are not simply an act of benevolence on the part of Google. They want something for all they are giving you and it's demographics. They want to be the most successful company in advertising to you and to do that they have to profile you.

If you want to be anonymous to Google, stop using all their "free" services.

Remember your tin foil hat (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424932)

I used to work for an ISP. Theoretically we could have tracked what people did on the net. (Disregarding issues of legality and ethics of course).

But guess what: you people are not that interesting. You think your life is so brilliant that large corporations want to spend lots of money tracking your pr0n surfing and whatnot. But you just aren't that interesting. Get off your ego trip, it is warping your understanding of reality.

Re:Remember your tin foil hat (4, Insightful)

rfernand79 (643913) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424990)

But you didn't! This is not about whether people are interesting or not. This is about privacy, which seems to be devalued in the public's opinion. 1984 was a cautionary tale, not a guidebook.

Why use google for that ? (1)

geekymachoman (1261484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424952)

First of all... for corporate/business stuff, you should use your corporate/business mail servers and other services, that are dedicated to that business. Using public services for business doesn't make much sense.

Private stuff.. well, don't use public services for stuff that you consider sensitive. I mean.. I chat with my gf via gtalk.. even if they read it, i don't care. They could as well sit next to me in a coffee shop and hear what we talk about. I certainly won't disclose anything 'sensitive' in public, and using public services like gtalk/gmail.

For some sensitive stuff, I tend to use my own services, which aren't that hard to install and customize. There are some basic mail server softwares, dynamic dns, etc. So in about max 2 hours, you can set up your own system for communication, and possibly configure SSL for all those services.

Gmail/Gtalk has it's purpose, but using them for business and or sensitive private stuff, is insane to me, so this question doesn't make much sense also.

You don't (3, Insightful)

Gudeldar (705128) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424966)

It seems to me you have two options. 1) Accept the trade off of having Google uses your information for targeted advertising in exchange for their service. 2) Stop using Google's services.

Use Bing instead of Google search. Switch to Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or use an email client. Use Bing's maps instead of Google Maps. etc. I don't think any of these options really ensure your privacy any better than using Google does but if your fear is of Google specifically (sort of irrational IMO) then these are options.

Personally I don't mind the first option because honestly I'm not that interesting. I don't do anything with Google services that would be very interesting to anyone at Google or an intelligence service. There seems to be very little risk for a decent reward.

Re:You don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30425094)

You are on to something here though. Every few, rotate a little bit.

Use Yahoo mail, use Bing search, use Google maps.

In 6 months, use Google search, Yahoo maps.

The only constant might be email, but I personally have 3 email accounts. 1 for personal (friends and stuff), 1 for personal transactions (airline tickets, amazon, etc), 1 for subscription services (facebook, linked in, etc.). I rotate the transaction and subscription service email addresses. I'll admit to even being a Cuil user for a little while.

Another thing that I do is remove cookies, and refresh my IP address. This is all easy easy stuff.

In the end, it may not matter, but it has the added benefit that should one particular thing become unbearable for whatever reason, I'm used to switching to something new. Also, checking out new things is routine (because I enjoy it).

clusty; whitelisting cookies (2, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424970)

I do my searches using clusty.com rather than google, for exactly this reason. In most cases, the search results are exactly the same quality as google's. It doesn't have certain specialized features that google has, e.g., book search and image search.

A simple way of enhancing your privacy is to set your firefox preferences so that it deletes all cookies when you exit the browser, except for cookies from a specified whitelist. Edit : Preferences : privacy. Uncheck "accept third-party cookies." Firefox will: Use custom settings for history. Keep until: I close Firefox. Exceptions: [set your list of exceptions]

But basically, if you completely hitch your wagon to gmail, google docs, etc., then I don't see how you can expect to preserve your privacy from being invaded by google. Google is an advertising company, and their whole business model revolves around selling your eyeballs.

Re:clusty; whitelisting cookies (1)

Opyros (1153335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425162)

Clusty does in fact have image search [clusty.com] .

Its the cost of admission... (3, Interesting)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424980)

Nothing is free and if you use their services, your privacy, at least in part, is the cost. If the price is too high, go somewhere else.

Too extreme? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424984)

I may have gone to the extreme, but last Friday I moved away from GMail and started the process of erasing my google-held data (check the "dashboard" in account.google.com, it is pretty scary to see how much they know of you.) I'll be deleting my google.com account in a couple of weeks, as my friends start writing to my new Email account. I did the same with Facebook (also last Friday), whose new privacy settings are truly horrendous. With Bing and Hotmail, I know precisely where my privacy stands. Up to me if I choose to useBing/ Hotmail or not. With Google, I know my privacy is worth squat. Up to me if I use Google/GMail or not. I chose to close accounts in companies whose privacy policies I disagree with. Interestingly, erasing oneself from Facebook and Google is not an easy task (although migrating is, see trueswitch.com). they will hold my data and personal information forever. But at least they won't be getting any new data from now on.

Dashboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30425002)

i'm not sure if it really takes the data off of googles servers, but you can google "google dashboard" and see what is going on there. also go to "web history" and you can remove searches and sites etc. again, not sure if it takes data off of their servers, but its doing something

what about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30425012)

not using google and using ecosia?

the privacy is much better and you also serve a good cause

Don't use Gmail (2)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425054)

or if you do use gmail, encrypt everything you send with an external app, have all your emails forwarded to another non-gmail account.

Running your own email server isn't exactly hard as long as your ISP is willing to change your PTR record and give you a static IP. Well worth it even just for the gains in privacy.

For google search i would use an anonimisng proxy, run a http proxy (bandwidth limited) to muddle your searches in between other people's but you will get the much hated 'sorry, your computer is generating automated queries screen' and will sometimes have to enter a capcha in order to use google search the odd time

Simple: Lie (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425060)

Objectively you can't remain anonymous. But what you can do is subjectively poison the collected data to make it at least questionable, or at the extreme, overtly and obviously so polluted with intentional misdirection that no authority, agency, employer or person would dare try to take any portion of it seriously for fear of choosing the wrong portion, thus making a serious error in judgement. Random BS won't work. Complete fabrication is too time consuming and prone to errors. Mixing every real action with more or less of a plausible false action with some but incomplete consistency is best, especially if some of your real action is hidden via encryption, proxy, back channel transmission and so forth. Outright misstatements aren't good enough. Being 'seen' doing other than what you want being seen doing is the key. Look into OPSEC (operational security).

Try OptimizeGoogle (1)

krou (1027572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425064)

Try OptimizeGoogle [mozilla.org] (based on CustomizeGoogle). It has a great number of features, such as anonymizing your Google Cookie UID, blocking ads, removing click tracking, stopping cookies being sent to Google Analytics etc.

While we're at it, gadgets phone home. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30425082)

I stopped using Google's desktop gadgets because they crash Plasma when they fail to reach analytics (I discovered this using strace on Plasma.) The outright crash might be a KDE bug, but there's absolutely absolutely no reason a moon phase gadget should need access to the internet.

I get cross gmail account ads (5, Interesting)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425112)

I work for a company that supplies a specific unique service(Laboratory Service). I use a work gmail account for testing/backup. My personal email is not gmail. To my surprise after using gmail I starting getting spam to my personal account to do with Lab stuff. And some ads in gmail clearly are oriented to my personal stuff. As far as I know I have never crossed the two and strickly keep personal matters out of Gmail.

As with a comment above, "if you have nothing to hide", I don't have anything to hide. But it is somewhat unsettling.

Handy Firefox Plugins (4, Informative)

Ziekheid (1427027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425148)

Here are some addons I use in Firefox that might be of use for some: CookieSafe, permanently ban google in specific from setting cookies (for example): https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2497 [mozilla.org] Ghostery, See who's tracking your web browsing and block them automaticly. (trackers like google analytics, quantcast, etc) https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/9609 [mozilla.org] Torbutton,Provides a button to securely and easily enable or disable the browser's use of Tor. It is currently the only addon that will safely manage your Tor browsing to prevent IP address leakage, cookie leakage, and general privacy attacks. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2275 [mozilla.org]

Not easy (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425150)

There's no way you can use Google all day from your own computer and have your searches remain anonymous; you're going to, in the normal course of doing things, do searches which can be traced back to you. And there's no way to type "how to blow goats" into any google search box without google knowing that someone is interested in blowing goats. The only way to keep stuff private from Google is not to search for it (or use other Google services). The only way to keep stuff anonymous is to completely separate that stuff from other things you do. Which means at the least not doing it from your computer or any computer or network traceable to you.

Teh GOBERMENT will get us! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30425164)

Honestly, while Schmidt's comments seem scary, they are right. If you are highly concerned about privacy, maybe you should not use a free online mail service that is payed for by the advertising and marketing information it provides to it's operator. Maybe for the stuff you are really concerned about, you should use hushmail.

That being said, realize that most of Slashdotter's are paranoid as fuck. Honestly, if Google ever gave out access to my data, it would be bad news for me. Same thing goes for Facebook chat and many other activities. Also, if any of those servers I played with in my script kiddy days turned out to be a honeypot.

Honestly, get over it: you are a bunch of paranoid crazies.

Use separate browsers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30425168)

Use separate browsers for all your activities.

My current set up is all firefox, using profiles (-P profile on the commandline):

-1 browser for normal usage. Adblock plus with cookiesafe and noscript.
-1 browser for gmail. Adblock plus with cookiesafe and noscript. Never used for anything but gmail. Also uses --no-remote so no clicks from other windows can open a tab on this browser.
-1 browser for facebook. Adblock plus with cookiesafe and noscript. Never used for anything but facebook. Also uses --no-remote so no clicks from other windows can open a tab on this browser.

Do not click on links from your emails or facebook, copy and paste them to the "normal" browsesr.

By doing this, you'll be a lot harder (not impossible!) to track.

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