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Google Toolbar Tracks Your Browsing, Even When Off

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the yeah-that-was-like-a-bug-or-something dept.

Google 118

garg0yle writes "Google's Toolbar is supposed to allow the user to disable it. However, it was discovered by a researcher that it was still sending information even when disabled. A patch is now available, and Google claims this was just a bug, not a feature."

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Oops (2, Insightful)

strikeleader (937501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916600)

this was just a bug, not a feature....
Yea...right

Re:Oops (3, Informative)

hansraj (458504) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916686)

Rephrasing from FTFA:

Google toolbar allowed two "modes" for disable. Users could either disable it permanently or for one specific window. In the latter case, for some versions of the toolbar it didn't disable. Browser restart or opening new windows after activating that mode did in fact disable the toolbar.

Now, even though it doesn't make sense for the "disable this window" to work after a browser restart, it does make it plausible that it was a bug.

Re:Oops (1, Flamebait)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916746)

"Yes, it does work! Just click the 'temporary disable Google toolbar for this window', and restart your browser for the changes to take effect!"

Re:Oops (4, Insightful)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916762)

It's not a bug, it's an alibi.

Re:Oops (4, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916756)

Yes, it is right, this is a "bug".

Google's statement was completely correct, they just used a form of the word "bug" that you might not have expected them to use in that context.

That is the common vernacular for a wiretap device, right? A "bug"?

It bugs me that they would bug me then call it a bug.

Re:Oops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917208)

Those buggers!

Re:Oops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917830)

No. Buggerers

Re:Oops (1)

GeorgeS (11440) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920904)

+1 Informative

Re:Oops (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917098)

Google Toolbar Tracks Your Browsing, Even When Off

In other news, Google announces move of corporate offices to Soviet Russia!

Re:Oops (1)

ArundelCastle (1581543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917448)

In Soviet Russia, Google bugs bug you!

Re:Oops (1)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918220)

no.

how about... In Soviet Russia, Google Toolbar disables you! (and then forces you to keep working?)

Re:Oops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30923330)

how about... In Soviet Russia, Google Toolbar disables you! (and then forces you to keep working?)

I believe that should be:

In Capitalist America, bad diet, sedentary lifestyle, pollution and stress disables YOU!

Then lack of reliable universal health insurance system forces you to keep working until it kills YOU!

Re:Oops (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917122)

My guess is rather than a bug or feature, it's a design flaw. Kind of like DRM is a design flaw in CDs (data and programs alike).

It's humorous to me that it's the phrase Microsoft uses so often, "it's a feature, not a bug" turned on its head.

Re:Oops (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917350)

Did anyone check if the official Goolebar Firefox extension has the same "bug"?

Re:Oops (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918250)

No, it was a bug... like the kind the FBI plans when they're trying to spy on suspected criminals.

Re:Oops (4, Insightful)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 4 years ago | (#30923618)

I've been telling people forever that toolbars have only one purpose, which is to track. If you really think about it there are no real features of the toolbar other than tracking. Those buttons they add can easily be accomplished with the bookmarks toolbar shortcuts/bookmarks.

Somewhat rhetorical: What's the "other" purpose of having those toolbars? You get one for Microsoft, another for Yahoo, for Google, for Ask, etc., (makes me nauseous just to think about it).

Those toolbars are being installed into your browser by a number of products that have the option to install it by default such as the Java installer. As someone that cleans up a lot of computers every year in my shop to interrupt this process process is time consuming--to remove or disable them. Though it is time consuming I remove or disable them on almost every customer's computer that I work on. I then inform my customers of the purpose and consequences of the toolbars.

How much of this behavior is embedded in browsers provided by closed source vendors such as Microsoft? Do they track you and report back searches you do in Google to help them to gain a leg up on their searches? I've always wondered that.

Considering that it only worked in certain version (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30916602)

It probably was a bug.

Re:Considering that it only worked in certain vers (1)

flooey (695860) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917296)

And considering that it only continued sending information until you restarted the browser.

Say it ain't so (4, Insightful)

eihab (823648) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916622)

As far as I'm concerned toolbar == spy-ware. Google jumped the shark and joined the ranks of Yahoo, MSN and Happy-smiley-spy-ware-toolbar the day they created one and started shoving it down people's throat.

No techie I know installs any toolbar in IE or Firefox. The only poor souls that seems to be stuck with them are non-techies, who usually have at least 3-4 toolbars and they "don't know how it happened".

It's also amazing to watch them browse the web, they almost never use the address bar, it's either the Google or Yahoo toolbar's search box, and they seem to mix and match them in any given session. Basically whatever box is closest to the mouse pointer.

I would be surprised if this was actually a "bug" and not a feature, sounds like a great bug to have for a data mining company. I also wonder if the assertion that it only affects "versions 6.3.911.1819 through 6.4.1311.42" is true. How can anyone confirm that since "the company intends to automatically update users' toolbars sometime today". Who has an older version to check?

Google toolbar, analytics, ad sense, double click, chrome... My love for Google is diminishing faster than the DOW in 2008.

Re:Say it ain't so (1)

Logical Zebra (1423045) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916670)

A "bug" for the user is a "feature" for Google...

Re:Say it ain't so (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30916678)

[quote]jumped the shark[/quote] Shut it... I'm beyond tired of people misusing this phrase.

Re:Say it ain't so (-1, Offtopic)

mayko (1630637) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916748)

I would say that we've all jumped the shark by misusing the phrase "jumped the shark."

Re:Say it ain't so (-1, Offtopic)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916790)

I would say that we've all jumped the shark by misusing the phrase "jumped the shark."

That phrase is so pale and bucket anyways.

Re:Say it ain't so (0, Offtopic)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918066)

Yes, stick a fork in it... "jump the shark" is done.
Hey the 1990s called... they want their phrase back.

Quote Fail (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917118)

[quote][/quote]

Quote Fail. AAH-HAHAhahahahahahahahahahaaaaaa, what a rewb!

Re:Quote Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917508)

El oh el you got modded down! Slashdot post FAIL!

Re:Say it ain't so (1)

fmoliveira (979051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920390)

He should have said "nuked the fridge"

Re:Say it ain't so (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916696)

Google toolbar, analytics, ad sense, double click, chrome... My love for Google is diminishing faster than the DOW in 2008.

Google has always been about datamining and advertising and you're always been losing your privacy to them. It's just now that people are starting to get it. And now Larry & Sergey are selling their shares [slashdot.org] and other more business oriented people will get more saying on the company. Even if Google wasn't being so intrusive before (and it kind of was), being a publicly traded company you never know what happens with your data in future.

Re:Say it ain't so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30916712)

I actually do know some (techie background) people who use google toolbar.
I don't see a use for it, neither do you, but that doesn't mean that nobody out there does.

Re:Say it ain't so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30916724)

The "non-techies" you speak of make up about 99.9999% of the population, and they're the main target of the advertisements that Google serves up.

Anyway, you're right, Google is on its way down. They've grown too large, and once that happens an innovative company is done for. It happened to Yahoo!, it happened to Xerox, it happened to IBM, it happened to Sun Microsystems.

Soon they start putting out progressively shittier and shittier products. Chrome OS is a good example of this. It was a braindead idea from the start, and the Chromium OS releases we've been able to use so far are absolutely pathetic.

I've showed Chromium OS to some "average" people I know, and none of them want anything to do with it. They can already access Facebook, GMail, and their other web apps from their goddamn netbooks, Blackberries and iPhones. Oh, and then they can install their own software, if they want. Even they see that Chrome OS will be stupid.

how to protect non-techies... (1)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916730)

No techie I know installs any toolbar...

Same here, but most of my family and friends probably would :-/

I don't see any easy solutions, but maybe one good idea would be for browsers that exist for their users (i.e. free software [gnu.org] web-browsers) should consider adding the functionality in an optional way with the best privacy possible.

Re:Say it ain't so (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916956)

The last guy whose computer I worked on must have had 5 or 6 toolbars in his browser, countless viruses, and he had been phished so many times that his browser had all but stopped working under the load (it loaded up about ten different phishing sites and at least a dozen porn pop-ups at every boot). This idiot basically clicked on any link or attachment he got, and had no doubt caused his credit card company no end of grief. I took one look at his system and told him he needed to take it to Best Buy and have them do a fresh install of Windows. Much as I hate to send the business to those shyster monkeys at BB, this is now the advice I give to ANYONE who asks me to fix their computer ("fix" usually being synoymous with "I've got a bunch of viruses/crapware/malware/etc., and I will get it all again days after you reinstall Windows"). I just wish we could institute a licensing process for accessing the information superhighway, much like we have for accessing our real highways.

Re:Say it ain't so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917434)

I just wish we could institute a licensing process for accessing the information superhighway, much like we have for accessing our real highways.

Brilliant writing, sir. That did not resemble, even in the slightest, a bad analogy using a tired cliché. Well done.

Re:Say it ain't so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30916974)

Didn't RTFA eh?.

It looks like a bug: If you disable the bar it will track you until the browser restarts. Then it'll be disabled forever. Sounds like a very strange feature (a dangerous trick just to squeeze the last hour of tracking from the victim?), but quite a boring bug to me.

Re:Say it ain't so (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917082)

What is wrong with Chrome? Whats wrong with analytics? I get the toolbar, ad sense, and double click, but Chrome and Analytics are nice.

Re:Say it ain't so (4, Insightful)

eihab (823648) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917504)

What is wrong with Chrome?

- Invasion of privacy, the queries that fly off to Google with every key stroke
- Mandatory Google-updater that stays on your system for a day even after you uninstall everything

Whats wrong with analytics?

Two perspectives:

User: Google stalking you around the web. No clear privacy policy for not combining search/google-account data with analytics.

Site-owner/Advertiser: Missing help pages (404), stats do not add up. Very unpolished experience specifically when combined with ad sense: constantly getting "beta" features when it's a paid-for service is not good.

Re:Say it ain't so (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917882)

- Invasion of privacy, the queries that fly off to Google with every key stroke
- Mandatory Google-updater that stays on your system for a day even after you uninstall everything

Both can be enabled and disabled pretty damn easily if you would just RTFM.
You must be doing it very wrong if you can't remove the damn updater, i done it by accident!

The only thing that can't be is the one that tracks user stats (been checked before, RLZ data) like browser info, OS, etc.
But that can be blocked pretty easily with Privoxy or other such tools pretty damn easily too if you're idiotic enough to think that Google gives a damn about you.

Idiots like this is why Chrome has such a bad reputation because the instant anyone hears "contacts external server", people scream like little children and don't care to read up on it for their self.
I guess you don't use search-bars or any "all in one" bars that have become the norm in browsers either?
Who wants to place bets that eihab uses the search bar in Firefox? (possibly with another engine)
Almost every person i have heard whining about Chrome address bar wouldn't bat an eyelid at Firefox search bar.
Or used Steam and other services, Steam collects more info about your computer than Google ever do! And people had the cheek to insult Google! To hell with that double standards bullshit.

Re:Say it ain't so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30919118)

Just use SRWare Iron. Problem solved.

Re:Say it ain't so (4, Informative)

WraithCube (1391567) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917254)

While I do agree with most of what you said and 99.9% of toolbars are nothing but useless spyware, there are a few actual useful ones. Just because so many companies have built useless toolbars doesn't mean that there can't be a legitimately useful one amoung the clutter. The Web Developer [mozilla.org] toolbar is a favorite I usually have installed in firefox as it has a lot of useful tools/shortcuts. Then again I also usually even disable the bookmarks toolbar as the dropdown menu works quite well and i don't like giving up screen space.

Also, a lot of those users with 4-6 toolbars usually manage to hide at least a few of them in the browser window without uninstalling them. Pulling up add-remove programs while removing something else and seeing a list of toolbars is alway an unwelcome surprise. Especially when they need to be convinced that they really don't need all 6 toolbars...

Re:Say it ain't so (1)

eihab (823648) | more than 4 years ago | (#30919990)

I misspoke, I meant to say "any of these toolbars". I'm with you 99.999% are crap.

I used to use Web Developer too but I mainly use Firebug nowadays (I've always disabled the toolbar, so I don't really think of it as one).

The only things I still use Web Developer for are the W3C validation (Ctrl+Shift+A) and quickly disabling css (Ctrl+Shift+S) and maybe some cookies debugging every now and again.

Re:Say it ain't so (1)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917374)

Google toolbar, analytics, ad sense, double click, chrome... My love for Google is diminishing faster than the DOW in 2008.

Hrm...what's wrong with Chrome, exactly? It's a sweet browser and has really helped to push other browsers forward as well.

As for Analytics, Ad Sense, and Doubleclick - I'm not sure of your exact problems with them, but ads are how Google makes money so they can keep giving away all this "free" stuff. Sure, those ads may annoy you, but you can block them easily enough if they do.

Re:Say it ain't so (1)

eihab (823648) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917590)

I've responded above [slashdot.org] to a similar question.

Re:Say it ain't so (1)

KC7JHO (919247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917598)

No idea what is wrong with Chrome, I have NEVER seen it install on a windows machine with out editing the install package first! I am SO SICK of google advertising the stupid thing and then having it CRASH EVERY STINKING TIME I try to run it! Granted I haven't tried to install it on windows vista or 7 yet but out of 4 machines i have tried it on (3 XP Pro latest patches, 1 Windows 2k3 server latest patches) it installs then crashes EVERY time it is ran. I manages to hack enough of it to get it to occasionally run on the w2k3 server but that is all. YMMV of course but I am not the only one who has found this to be true!

Re:Say it ain't so (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917376)

Browser toolbars are a lot like Office suites: they're stupid little pieces of software that no sane person in their right mind would ever want near their computer, but the masses want 'em for some bloody reason so if you want their money you must make one.

Re:Say it ain't so (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918196)

No techie I know installs any toolbar in IE or Firefox.

Does this [mozilla.org] not count as a toolbar? Because while admittedly I work in the web, almost all the developers I know use it.

That is the only one though, and I'd certainly never install any other that didn't have a clear benefit - and alerting me to new emails isn't a benefit.

Re:Say it ain't so (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918580)

I use the Google Toolbar (yes, on purpose). I like the word search buttons and the AutoFill button to fill out forms for me.

The others are a complete waste and install surreptitiously, but the Google Toolbar does have some nice features.

Re:Say it ain't so (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918884)

picture of an average home users's browser:

toolbar overload [jimcofer.com]

Yeah, that's the ticket. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30916626)

Why, just the other day, I was discussing this with my wife, Morgan Fairchild . . .

Misleading title (4, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916636)

Google Toolbar Tracks Your Browsing, Even When Off

At first I thought that this meant that Google was tracking my movements even when my computer was off. I wondered how they'd do this and then I remembered about Google Street View.

Sly bastards.

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30916742)

Think of your mobile phone. That one you bring to the loo as well.

Re:Misleading title (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916894)

Hell, I bring my laptop to the toilet. ... ...

I'm posting from there, now.

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917384)

Mum-Ra: Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha. I'm watching you make stool!

found a search engine with privacy: ixquick.com (5, Informative)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916656)

I've switched to using

It's a meta search engine that focusses on privacy by not logging your IP address and your searches. On the technical side, it's nearly as good as the big name search engine I used previously.

Here's a plugin for GNU IceCat / IceWeasel / Firefox: Ixquick [mozilla.org] , or the https version [mozilla.org] (which I haven't tried, but I guess is the same to users).

One hiccup: their ads system uses Google ads. Maybe they've implemented this in an anonymous way. I hope they have, but either way, at least with ixquick there a hope of privacy, unlike Google.

Re:found a search engine with privacy: ixquick.com (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917156)

They seem to have a commendable attitude and seem to actually live up their cliams ..

But note some of their servers are in the US so don't assume private means private ...

More private than most I agree with, totally private, no

Re:found a search engine with privacy: ixquick.com (1)

ArundelCastle (1581543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917582)

It's a meta search engine that focusses on privacy by not logging your IP address and your searches.

I don't feel that the deliberate absence of something makes it a focus, even if it happens to be contrary to the norm. "Come to my website, it doesn't care who you are and just displays funny 404 screens based on buttons you click. We support your privacy."

It's not as if logging IP addresses and searches is mandatory. It has to be coded in. There are aspects of that data that can improve how a search engine works. The rest is either user convenience or marketing data.

Re:found a search engine with privacy: ixquick.com (1)

symes (835608) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918678)

I'd never heard of ixquick before but initial impressions are very positive. So thankyou. I've set it as my default search engine for additional scrutiny. Also interested to note that they are launching [youtube.com] a proxy service. A breath of fresh air.

Re:found a search engine with privacy: ixquick.com (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30919014)

Scroogle [scroogle.org] is another search that doesn't log, but uses Google to do the searches.

Re:found a search engine with privacy: ixquick.com (2, Insightful)

eihab (823648) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921060)

One hiccup: their ads system uses Google ads. Maybe they've implemented this in an anonymous way. I hope they have, but either way, at least with ixquick there a hope of privacy, unlike Google.

It looks like they did. The ads are not loaded with Javascript or anything from Google. They are basically links served from ixquick's server as:
http://www.google.com/aclk?sa=l&ai=[Publisher/Advertiser Identifier]&adurl=[URL of the ad].

Since ixquick uses POST [wikipedia.org] instead of GET [diffen.com] , Google can't see your keywords in the referrer header [wikipedia.org] , all they'll see is that you came from (http://us2.ixquick.com/do/metasearch.pl).

My only issue with these meta-search engines is that they rely on all of the other search engines to produce their results. I'm not sure if what they're doing is allowed by the engines' terms of services (e.g. I don't see Google on ixquick's list, but yet there's Scroogle), and I don't know if they're viable long term.

I'm pretty sure if they get big enough then Bing, Yahoo and others will have an issue with their traffic going ixquick's way.

Nobody believed me (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916676)

Nobody believed me when I warned that G$$Gle was in league with the Italian islamocommunist spymasters who want to track Christian Americans so they can steal our Wives and Daughters and brainwash them at their secret camps in Mexico. Now you know the truth... what will you do?

Re:Nobody believed me (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916834)

Learn to cook again, just in case?

Yeah, but... (0)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916684)

They'll do no evil, right? Google's our friend, right? right? guys...?

Re:Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30916778)

yeah ... right.

Re:Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30916846)

Everything is gonna be alright.

Re:Yeah, but... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918760)

Do no double plus ungood you mean.

Trust Google, Google is your friend.

Do you still doubt Google? Perhaps you should visit the Bright Vision Re-Education Center to get things straightened out.

Re:Yeah, but... (1)

Ja'Achan (827610) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922788)

Of course we're at war with Google. We've always been at war with Google.

Geez (-1, Flamebait)

rarez (107909) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916736)

Google are turning into m$ with they're unscruplicous methods.

Re:Geez (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917322)

Pontiac: "We build excitement!" (bad brakes and steering)
Ford: "Quality us job one" (they have work to do on quality)
Chevy: "Like a rock" (damned thing won't start)
Google: "Don't be evil" (it's ok to DO evil though)

Maybe I see the past with rose colored glasses, but it doesn't seem like businesses were all run by liars and thieves when I was young. Maybe I was just naive in my youth.

Re:Geez (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917694)

Maybe I was just naive in my youth.

Better living through chemicals?

Re:Geez (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918996)

Actually, I believe I was more naive before the chemicals. And the chemicals that most adversely affected my life were prescribed by medical doctors, especially the ones they gave me in the USAF for arthritis that hadn't been approved by the FDA.

Re:Geez (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918358)

It's been this way in the USA since the Guilded Age, at least. Eisenhower was talking about the miltary-industrial complex half a century ago, remember?

Fixed that for you (1)

drainbramage (588291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30919368)

It's been that way, like forever.
Yes, rose colored glasses are handy.

Re:Geez (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921716)

Yes, but the Microsoft style of doing business is new. There were a few giant corporations acting like that (i.e., IBM) but now it's all of them.

Another reason to be vigilant about your privacy (1, Insightful)

dmomo (256005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916744)

Even if the company "does no evil"(tm), no system is perfect. I remember fiddling with Facebook's API a while back. I was astounded by by what I had access to. I could see friend ids/names that I am not so sure should have been accessible to me given the privacy options selected by those people.

So, even if a company's morality is perfect, this isn't to say that their software is. Don't expect anyone to protect your privacy except you.

No toolbar here (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916788)

I don't use any installable tool-bars. Like they say, nothing is truly free. I'm sure the sending of data when off was intentional. They just got busted.

I don't like mega-corporations that have way to much control. This is why I wish someone new would step up in the search world. The two best search engines are Google and Bing, both owned by mega-corps. Maybe an open source search engine powered by an open source charity. (donates to open source projects)

Re:No toolbar here (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916836)

The two best search engines are Google and Bing, both owned by mega-corps.

Do you think it's possible for a non-megacorp to build the infrastructure required to index a sizable portion of the web and serve search results in real time to a large audience?

Does that word mean what you think it means? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30916950)

Unintentional irony is the best!

The two best search engines are Google and Bing, both owned by mega-corps.

Do you think it's possible for a non-megacorp to build the infrastructure required to index a sizable portion of the web and serve search results in real time to a large audience?

Google became a megacorp by doing it... so yes, clearly it is possible.

Re:Does that word mean what you think it means? (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917030)

Google did it when there was no viable competition. People tend to forget just how badly the then current alternatives sucked.

Re:Does that word mean what you think it means? (2, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917622)

Google did it when there was no viable competition.

Google did it when the web was a whole lot smaller. When Google started out, broadband was all but unheard of and the web was still in its infancy.

Which reminds me... (1)

chemindefer (707238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917788)

Whatever happened to HotBot?

Re:No toolbar here (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917108)

The two best search engines are Google and Bing, both owned by mega-corps.

Do you think it's possible for a non-megacorp to build the infrastructure required to index a sizable portion of the web and serve search results in real time to a large audience?

Kind of, I think that would be a feasible task for a University or research institution.

From my point of view, the problem is not that a "Megacorp" is providing the service; the main issue is the way they are making money out of it (e.g. they profit from farming your browsing habits).

Re:No toolbar here (3, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917476)

the main issue is the way they are making money out of it (e.g. they profit from farming your browsing habits).

If it bothers you that much then install CustomizeGoogle [customizegoogle.com] and block their click tracking and cookies. That's a free solution that will prevent them from building up much of a profile on you. If you want to spend a little bit of money you can use an Anonymous web proxy to go a step further and keep them from associating your IP address to your search queries.

Point being, there are ways around Google's invasive data mining for those who are willing to invest a small amount of effort.

Re:No toolbar here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30919698)

Proxychains FTW

Re:No toolbar here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30921990)

CustomizeGoogle is no longer updated, and thus no longer works completely with newer versions of Firefox.

OptimizeGoogle took up where it left off. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/52498 [mozilla.org]

Re:No toolbar here (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917302)

As noted by another poster. Google did it, and I'm willing to bet someone like Redhat in combination with hardware donation from IBM could manage to put together that type of infrastructure. I mean, you don't have to have 1 million servers like Google to start off with. You build as required. If you get that large, you will have plenty of search revenue to build out with.

Just Say No (1)

CodeHog (666724) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916832)

This is why I don't install toolbars. And you know who else likes to install toolbars? Yeah, Zynga. You trust them with your info?

Why does this surprise anyone? (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 4 years ago | (#30916850)

No one is surprised when Microsoft does this but it'a amazing that people are when Google does. As a publicly traded company Google's only obligation is to make a profit for shareholders. That means doing things like instituting business practices that are favorable to their business. Can you imagine a better situation? 80% of the search market and people love you. Once GOOG became publicly traded "Do no evil" is more of a guideline than a rule. Maybe they should change their motto to "We do less evil than everyone else©"

Re:Why does this surprise anyone? (1)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918922)

No one is surprised when Microsoft does this but it'a amazing that people are when Google does.

Microsoft has a history of being immoral, baring China it's pretty rare for Google to do such things.

As a publicly traded company Google's only obligation is to make a profit for shareholders. That means doing things like instituting business practices that are favorable to their business.

Agreed with what you're saying, but not with what you're implying. Pissing off and consequently losing customers by spying on them isn't favorable to their business. Risking a comparatively large fiasco over a comparatively small amount of data mining isn't worth pot odds. Google doesn't have Microsoft's lock-in - it's easy to move away from Google. I find it hard to believe Google doesn't know this.

80% of the search market and people love you.

I realize that correlation does not _necessarily_ imply causation (people love you -> more marketshare), but it doesn't take an economist to show that if people like a company, they'll be more likely to do business with it.

While I obviously don't have much more then Google's word, the fact that the toolbar acting when 'off' was only in certain situations and not always, and the fact that Google isn't quite stupid enough to risk a big affair over what little they'd get from this, I for one put the odds against this being a purposeful act.

Singalong (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30916878)

Every day more and more I like Chinese [youtube.com] .

The world today seems absolutely crackers
With nuclear bombs to blow us all sky high
There's fools and idiots sittin' on the trigger
It's depressing and it's senseless, and that's why

I like Chinese, I like Chinese
They only come up to your knees
Yet they're always friendly, and they're ready to please

I like Chinese, I like Chinese
There's nine hundred million of them in the world today
You'd better learn to like them, that's what I say

I like Chinese, I like Chinese
They come from a long way overseas
But they're cute and they're cuddly, and they're ready to please

I like Chinese food, the waiters never are rude
Think of the many things they've done to impress
There's Maoism, Taoism, I Ching, the Google hack and chess

So I like Chinese, I like Chinese
I like their tiny little trees
Their Zen, their ping-pong, their yin and yang-ese

I like Chinese thought, the wisdom that Confucius taught
If Darwin is anything to shout about
The Chinese will survive us all without any doubt

So, I like Chinese, I like Chinese
They only come up to your knees
Yet they're wise and they're witty and they're ready to please
All together

Wo ai zhongguo ren, wo ai zhongguo ren
Wo ai zhongguo ren
Ni hao ma; ni hao ma; ni hao ma; zaijien

I like Chinese, I like Chinese
Their food is guaranteed to please
A fourteen, a seven, a nine and lychees

I like Chinese, I like Chinese
I like their tiny little trees
Their Zen, their ping-pong, their yin and yang-ese

I like Chinese, I like Chinese
They only come up to your knees

Googlebar Lite (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30916892)

If you have Firefox, use Googlebar Lite [mozilla.org] instead. It has all the same goodies without the corporasity.

The Alexa Toolbar (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917004)

This new shouldn't be a surprise for anyone who has ever used a browser toolbar before.

So just rename "Toolbars" into "Foolbars" . . . (2, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917026)

. . . that should remove any responsibility of indemnity of the Foolbar vendor.

Corporate Defense Lawyer: "Your Honor, the plaintiff, Mr. Terry Fuckwit, who is suing for privacy violations, did knowingly install and use our product, appropriately named 'Foolbar'."

Judge: "Anyone who uses such a product is a dumb-ass and has shit for brains. Case dismissed."

Judge: "Now on to the next case, concerning another of your products, 'KieferSutherlandsCattlePonziScheme' for Windows 7 . . ."

Re:So just rename "Toolbars" into "Foolbars" . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917166)

. . .

Mr T: "I pity the foolbar who's trackin Mr. T. Track this, sucka!"

A note to the pious believers (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917074)

$542.42. That was GOOG's closing price yesterday. Just what do they have to support that price? Nothing. Nothing except your data, and they're going to sell it Buster, as much as they can, before investors begin to notice the markup on that $135.00 stock of theirs. Oh sure, The Market says it's worth $500+ and it's never wrong, right? Just like what The Market said about your house. Of course, your house didn't have hip coolness did it. Google Goggles! Google Goggles! Google Goggles! It's even fun to say!

Re: Oops (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917290)

Disables the constant Chinese connections too! ;-p

Okay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917796)

Am I the only one that LIKES that they keep track of my searches?

I don't like getting a bunch of irrelevant results when I search. If tracking how I browse gets rid of those irrelevant results, then fine.
Google's ads are the least intrusive of any company I've ever seen, and if they want to take over the advertising business, I think that's a very good thing.

Also, I think a lot of you are flattering yourselves into thinking they are tracking you in some Nineteen Eighty-Four Big Brother way. They don't actually care about you, just how people browse the web so they can improve their business.

Accident? (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917972)

Perhaps. But having complete tracking data for a wide swath of internet users is extremely valuable. I'd be more impressed if they were promising to purge that data from their servers. As it is it looks like they figured they'd do this until they got caught and then say "oopsie".

There is a secondary offswitch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30918072)

I wouldn't put it past google for this to be an honest "bug" concidering their recent "calling 911 crashes my phone" problems. QA? (Blank retarded stare) Why does a **marketing** company need QA?

Its hard to see this being an isolated instance. For example google updater isn't simply disabled by stopping and disabling the google updater service installed without your knowledge. You have to go into the fricking scheduler of all places and get rid of it there too. I suppose its better than hooking dispatch tables.

Schmidts infamous revelation "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place" isn't particularly helpful either.

Their brand will continue to go the way of Apple and *cringe* MS if they keep acting evil.

I'm just going to leave this here (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30918212)

Tor Browser Bundle [torproject.org]

Another good reason for on-going log removal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30919402)

This is another great reason for pushing Google and other search providers to complete search log removal after a certain period of time. If bugs can violate privacy policies then software providers should minimize the potential effect of bad code. Unless you do not log any data, permanent removal of the logs is the only choice.

Sure, And The Botnets Are Endorsed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30920704)

by the Russian Government.

Yours In Perm,
Kilgore Trout

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