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Ask Slashdot: Should We Have the Option of Treating Google Like a Utility?

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the you-are-the-product-being-sold dept.

Businesses 238

eegad writes "I've been thinking a lot about how much information I give to technology companies like Google and Facebook and how I'm not super comfortable with what I even dimly know about how they're handling and selling it. Is it time for major companies like this, who offer arguably utility-like services for free in exchange for info, to start giving customers a choice about how to 'pay' for their service? I'd much rather pony up a monthly fee to access all the Google services I use, for example, and be assured that no tracking or selling of my information is going on. I'm not aware of how much money these companies might make from selling data about a particular individual, but could it possibly be more than the $20 or $30 a month I'd fork over to know that my privacy is a little more secure? Is this a pipe dream, or are there other people who would happily pay for their private use of these services? What kinds of costs or problems could be involved with companies implementing this type of dual business model?"

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238 comments

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hah! (5, Insightful)

Artea (2527062) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021753)

They'd happily take your money, and promptly "lose" your information a few times a year for more.

Re:hah! (5, Insightful)

Artea (2527062) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021761)

By "lose" I mean "share information with a trusted partner" clause in their privacy contract that lets them get away with selling it anyway.

Re:hah! (2)

a_hanso (1891616) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021861)

They will find a way to sell it eventually. The data is worth so much money that the temptation is just too high.

The only way out is see is to make the data availability to marketers a *service*, rather than a product. Do marketers really want your *personal* information or is what they really want the ability to target advertising to you based on your demographics, interests and behaviors? Doing the latter does not necessarily mean you have to possess the former.

What if Google or Facebook only provided their customers (i.e. the marketers, not us) with a query interface? Such as, "tell me how many people with such and such demographic attributes who bought item x also bought item y". And then provide another interface to tell Google/Facebook to "show this ad to people with these demographic attributes who bought item x and ...." etc. This way Google/Facebook holds the private data and the marketers get most of what they want. Perhaps that's still evil, but it is a lesser evil.

Or is that what they're doing already?

Re:hah! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022041)

Yes, it's what they're doing already, essentially.

It's also why these companies are hot on "real names", as there's a lot more interesting data about you in the "offline" world (e.g. house, car, neighborhood, credit, etc.)

Re:hah! (3, Insightful)

iserlohn (49556) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022323)

Obviously that's what Google and Facebook are doing already - they aren't selling your information, but access to your attention. The information they collect from you allows for more targeted selling so that the advertisers can select exactly who will see their ads.

Re:hah! (1)

peppepz (1311345) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022401)

No, they also sell your information, in an anonymized form.

Re:hah! (2)

a_hanso (1891616) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022555)

Does that mean they strip my life's story of just my name, phone number, address and other similar identifying information or do they go so far as to obfuscate other pieces of information like hometown, company, college etc? Without that, the data is still probably enough to narrow me down to a single individual.

I don't put up a lot of things on Facebook, but if Google pulls keywords from my GMail to decide my preferences and sells *that* as data, I'd be very, very scared.

Re:hah! (4, Informative)

davester666 (731373) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022127)

Or it goes to the cable tv model.

You pay every month AND you get ads AND they sell your info [secret hint, all digital TV boxes report back to the mother ship what channels you record and when, what channel you are watching, and what shows you watch later].

Re:hah! (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022403)

secret hint, all digital TV boxes report back to the mother ship what channels you record and when, what channel you are watching, and what shows you watch later

Wait, what? What kind of boxes are we talking about?

Re:hah! (2)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022567)

Not MythTV boxes. TiVo and the like. Basically any computer-based set-top box with a back channel and software that you don't control. It used to be that part of the contract was that you connect the thing to a phone line - now with broadband more common it's ethernet (wireless or otherwise), and they probably just hobble the thing so it doesn't work without it, rather than insisting on it in a contract (gives it away, y'see).

Re:hah! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021911)

You say that, buuut it's FUD, plain and simple.

Google does not sell personal information to third parties *ever*. They use that information to show targeted ads + search results. Period. And they have been pretty honest about that. If you are uncomfortable with what Google is doing with its data internally, I disagree, but I can't really argue with you. There have certainly been a couple pretty big screwups (Streetview anyone?) and different people have very different ideas about what level of data+usage is "okay".

But if you think Google is exposing this data third parties in any way beyond showing targeted ads and obeying court orders, I call BS. There is a pretty damn firm line in the sand there, and never in my time at Google has someone even suggested it might be negotiable.

Re: hah! (1)

mystikkman (1487801) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022107)

Oh really, Mr. Anonymous Shill Astroturf Coward employee?

Explain this.

http://rt.com/usa/google-privacy-android-app-429/ [rt.com]

Re: hah! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022141)

Seriously? When you buy an app from an app developer, they need your contact information for payment processing. That's how it's always worked, and it's hardly been a secret.

Re: hah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022427)

When you buy an app from an app developer, they need your contact information for payment processing.

No, really, they don't. Google do the payment processing.

Re: hah! (1)

peppepz (1311345) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022461)

But the branding and design of the Play Store leads me to believe that I buy apps from Google, not from the application developer. When I buy a package in a shop, I don't give my full name and street address to the manufacturer of that package, I give them to the shop owner, so it's reasonable for the average user to assume that the same would happen in a virtual shop.

When I buy from the Play Store, I implicitly trust Google, not "H4ckerJo3 development ltd". At the very least Google should tell me, when I buy, that they're transfering extremely personal information to an obscure developer that I might have no way to know, let alone trust. They probably did state that in some EULA written in legalese that many people couldn't understand even if they tried to - so from a legal standpoint they're certainly safe. But from an ethical point of view, it's debatable.

Re: hah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022201)

My post: "... never in my time at Google ..."
Definition of shill: "A shill, also called a plant or a stooge, is a person who publicly helps a person or organization without disclosing that he has a close relationship with that person or organization."

That word. I don't think it means what you think it means. Yes I work at Google. I did not hide that.

I work on ads, not Android, and didn't know about this. Is it bad? Perhaps. It's recent, I haven't heard it discussed, and I don't know enough about what's going on to judge atm. But that article sure has an axe to grind.

Consume Watchdog is a paid astroturfing company (4, Informative)

tlambert (566799) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022215)

Consume Watchdog is a paid astroturfing company; specifically, they are owned by Grassroots Enterprises Inc."

http://techrights.org/2009/05/04/consumer-watchdog-exposed/ [techrights.org]

Re:hah! (1)

peppepz (1311345) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022421)

Google does not sell personal information to third parties *ever*. They use that information to show targeted ads + search results. Period.

Are you sure?
http://www.google.com/analytics [google.com]

And they have been pretty honest about that.

Their sincerity isn't to take for granted after the streetview affaire.

Re:hah! (5, Informative)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022457)

For Gmail and Google Apps, there is Google Apps Premier. You can pay $50 per user a year, you get no advertisements, and you get 25 GB to store your email instead of 9 GB. The only issue is that Google Apps Premier hasn't been rolled out to all the Google Services, and it forces you to juggle multiple accounts which is a pain. And it definitely does not cover Google Search (unless you default to the incognito tab every time, which anybody can do already).

For Android, there are some ROMs that are privacy-oriented. I did try such a ROM, but I quickly reverted. In hindsight, I found that I did want google maps and google navigation to remember the last locations I had searched.

Re:hah! (2)

peppepz (1311345) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022495)

I found that I did want google maps and google navigation to remember the last locations I had searched.

Then *your phone* should keep a history of your latest searches. Which could be even stored on a cloud server, in encrypted form. There's no need for Google/Facebook/Bing/Whatnot and their customers to know your data in order for you to get that convenience.

AT&T (5, Insightful)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021759)

How much you would be willing to pay AT&T to ensure they did not give your information to the NSA?

For the analogy-impaired: Google and Facebook might be happy to sell you "privacy", but they're still not going to say "no" when the feds come knocking.

Re:AT&T (4, Interesting)

neonKow (1239288) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021803)

AT&T is already selling my information too. And gouging me on prices. If anyone should offer utility prices, it should be the telecom companies. Wireless service needs to be less stupid.

Re:AT&T (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022265)

Is it just me, or is this a particularly strange thread?

The guy is willing to pay $20/month to not have any information collected...

But a VPN costs half that. And Tor is free.

What am I missing here?

Re:AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021847)

How much you would be willing to pay AT&T to ensure they did not give your information to the NSA?

Well, I don't know, I guess that depends on how far you want to distort the definition of "blackmail", since I'm asking a company to not give away my information I didn't want them collecting in the first place.

As far as certain three-letter agencies go, I doubt there is any amount of money that will buy you out of that.

Re:AT&T (4, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022045)

Google has a far better track record than just about anyone else in this regard. They have said no to the US before, and they have said no to China before, many many times.

Why do yahoo, bing / MS, et al get a free pass on this? MS already works with China (via skype) to intercept VOIP, and theyve also cooperated with China's censorship in varying degrees; Yahoo has already worked with China to reveal political bloggers. Yet noone gets on their case, simply because theyre not the big dog on the block.

Honestly? Im happy that of all the possible tycoons of the advertising age, we have someone who puts up some token of resistance towards governernmental requests.

Re:AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022149)

because there is a huge difference between following the laws of the respective country you are doing business in and actively intruding upon your privacy. MS, Yahoo and Google are required to follow the laws in every country, this isn't something they get to make a choice in. It is what they do outside those requirements that differentiates them and where google falls down the most.

Re:AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022545)

"because there is a huge difference between following the laws of the respective country you are doing business in and actively intruding upon your privacy"

No, in this case, there isn't a difference, because the law demands that they actively intrude your privacy.

"MS, Yahoo and Google are required to follow the laws in every country, this isn't something they get to make a choice in"

The world isn't black and white.

Secrecy clause + the $1.3 billion data center (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022237)

Google are not allowed to disclose even the request, let alone Google's reaction to it. The recent Supreme Court decision was along partisan lines, i.e. Republicans voted you can't challenge the super secret orders unless you can prove you've been spied on, and you can't prove you've been spied on because they're super secret. Hence NSA has a completely free hand.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/02/26/231203/supreme-court-disallows-fisa-challenges?utm_source=rss1.0mainlinkanon&utm_medium=feed

What Google shows is the regular legal process which is a subset. It likely a tiny subset too, since NSA has this huge new data center its built in UTAH and it's difficult to imagine they'd build a data center that dwarfs Facebook's if they weren't hoovering up most of Google and Facebook's, email banking and every other kind of data.

What's laughable is Americans think they're immune from it!

Kerala Tourism | Tourist Places in Kerala | Touris (-1, Offtopic)

indiamap (2852183) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022389)

Kerala Tourism [indiainmaps.com] Kerala Tourism - Know about the list of all Tourist Places in Kerala with kerala tourism photos, Kerala Tourist Map. There is no shortage of incredible tourist places to visit in Kerala, Though the whole of Kerala has itself the unique places to visit in india along with its rich biodiversity and unmatched natural attractions. Tourism in kerala [indiainmaps.com]

Re:AT&T (1)

aliquis (678370) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022591)

What we need to do is to give Google a bigger budget and military than the US.

Then I'd start to feel safe in giving them my information =P

Kerala Tourism | Tourist Places in Kerala | Touris (-1, Offtopic)

indiamap (2852183) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022459)

Kerala Tourism [indiainmaps.com] Kerala Tourism - Know about the list of all Tourist Places in Kerala with kerala tourism photos, Kerala Tourist Map. There is no shortage of incredible tourist places to visit in Kerala, Though the whole of Kerala has itself the unique places to visit in india along with its rich biodiversity and unmatched natural attractions. Tourism in kerala [indiainmaps.com]

Re:AT&T (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022493)

I'm ok with that as long as they are up front about it, and explain in their policy that they will hand over your information to the feds if they come knocking with the right search warrants or court orders or whatever is required. Law enforcement should, under certain conditions, be able to get at your stuff in order to investigate crimes, just like they can search your home in certain cases. That's fine, as long as companies require the feds to follow process, and as long as the process itself respects your rights.

Which, by the way, it doesn't in my own country. Apparently there are days when Dutch authorities perform more wiretaps (per capita) than are performed in the US in the entire year. It doesn't require a court order (neither does a house search anymore...)

Google services (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021763)

My company actually has several private in-house Google services, search, wave-like thing, docs, etc. It cost us a good deal up front, I honestly don't know how much, but we insist on using them because we can guarantee they do not leak information out (they are even firewalled from reaching outside the company).

So it is at least possible.

Re:Google services (3, Insightful)

Qwavel (733416) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021939)

No. You can't have Google Search, Docs, etc. in-house.

What you can have, is exactly what the summary describes as a "pipe dream".

It's called Google Apps, it costs $50/year. Also, Google never has "sold" people's data. (Twitter does and Netflix is going to soon.)

How did this summary (and the previous one about the Pixel, which was equally misleading) ever get through?

Re:Google services (1)

Qwavel (733416) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021957)

I should clarify that one of the 'features' of Google Apps is the lack of ads that the summary yearns for. It also includes Enterprise support and a bunch of other small features and services. It is provided on your domain, not on google/gmail.com.

Re:Google services (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022105)

How did this summary (and the previous one about the Pixel, which was equally misleading) ever get through?

Because Microsoft is paying Burson Marsteller big money to smear Google.

Re:Google services (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022359)

I thought you could be a google search appliance that would index all your local docs internally. I also thought there was a installed version of docs (in a similar manner), but I'm not sure. We never used it. Maybe they discontinued the rack-mountable google search appliance.

How to Pay... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021769)

I wouldn't trust those guys with my credit card info.

Stop worrying about Google. (4, Insightful)

Dynedain (141758) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021787)

Google only does anonymous aggregated data. They act as a gateway between you and the advertiser.

Who you should be worried about is all the other huge companies tracking your behaviors on websites. They're the ones buying and selling your data, trading in "partnership" agreements, and finding other ways to identify you specifically.

Google doesn't want to know *you*, they want to just send ads to various group of people that you can be categorized into.

Re:Stop worrying about Google. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021807)

They claim that. Do you honestly believe an advertising company to tell the truth now or in the future?

Re:Stop worrying about Google. (2)

Dynedain (141758) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021871)

Yes. Because I've seen what gets tracked in Google Analytics paid products, vs what gets tracked in competitor systems like Adobe Omniture. And you wouldn't believe how many millions (possibly even billions) of dollars get spent on Omniture licenses and implementations. Not to mention the mass of other players in this realm.

Re:Stop worrying about Google. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022029)

Analytics is only a small part of Google.

If they don't care about individuals why do they push Plus so much?

Don't they have a huge interest in tracking individuals, if only to offer better search results?

Re:Stop worrying about Google. (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022097)

If they don't care about individuals why do they push Plus so much?

Sometimes, for Google, "aggregate" means "all people who have the same email address as you".

Re:Stop worrying about Google. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022161)

why do they push + so much? because they are an old company that thinks that "Facebook is the future". If you disagree then... wait I think I just saw some kids on your lawn.

Re:Stop worrying about Google. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022175)

The same reason they pushed Android. Facebook has a chance of becoming people's primary portal to the Internet, just like the iPhone did a couple year. That could ruin Google.

Gmail, Docs, Maps, etc. These don't make money either. They just make people use Google.

Re:Stop worrying about Google. (4, Insightful)

ferret4 (459105) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021877)

The important point, to me at least, is this is what Google are claiming. Therefore it is impossible for Google to offer a $20 per month fee to not aggregate and sell your data: if they cannot identify what data is being generated by you, they cannot guarantee they are not aggregating and selling it. To do so would either force them to identify individuals specifically, or force them to admit they already can.

Re:Stop worrying about Google. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021953)

It wouldn't be worth it for them to do that, because if anyone every found out everyone would hate them forever and it's profitable enough without cheating.

Re:Stop worrying about Google. (4, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022061)

Of the 3 major search companies (MS, Yahoo, Google), which has said no to China's requests for call monitoring (skype), search censorship, and to reveal the names of political bloggers?

Of the 3 major search companies, who has actually ever said "get a warrant" when asked for information extra-judicially by the US Govt?

Ill leave you to research and consider that.

Re:Stop worrying about Google. (0)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022113)

Ill leave you to research and consider that.

Yes, because the best way to convince someone of the strength of your arguments is to tell them you have the answers but you won't share them, instead they have to go on a wild goose to prove you right. Yeah...

Re:Stop worrying about Google. (4, Funny)

aliquis (678370) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022585)

Also research is likely to be done with Google!

I see a trap!

Re:Stop worrying about Google. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021873)

And Google loves to buy up those tracking companies once they get large enough.

Re:Stop worrying about Google. (5, Informative)

JabberWokky (19442) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022121)

Also see http://www.dataliberation.org/ [dataliberation.org] for how to exit.

I'm pretty okay with Google at the start of 2013. Always watch for changing behavior, but that's true for everybody, including yourself.

Re:Stop worrying about Google. (2)

NitWit005 (1717412) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022507)

The behavior tracking services that I've seen also anonymize it . They generally require that you use some gibberish ID for the person, or do some sort of ID sync where you tell them what IDs you want to use for each person.

Where you often see a mapping to individual humans is with opt-in databases. Think of the act of signing up for an Amazon account, Safeway card or something similar. You've told them your name and where you live and they know exactly what you've purchased.

Sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021789)

Right after we start treating ISPs as utilities too.

Re:Sure... (1)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021819)

This needs to happen. Especially in Canada.

Re:Sure... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022065)

And facebook, and Yahoo, and ebay, and any company that uses Google Analytics....

This is absurd.

Willing to pay? (4, Insightful)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021795)

For everyone here who says he's willing to pay rather than be tracked, the chances rise that someone here will develop that service.

Re:Willing to pay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022019)

Wow, such a refreshing blast of market capitalism. That seems to be quite out of favor around here these days. I'm actually surprised that nobody has yet mentioned getting the government to mandate that Google make the option available. It'd just be for everybody's good right?

Re:Willing to pay? (4, Funny)

tooyoung (853621) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022059)

Yes, which is why Google is testing the concept on slashdot...

Re:Willing to pay? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022221)

The principle would be to do it under another name and pretend 'partner' so it doesn't damage the corporate brand. The choice would be to pay or the by far smarter option to politically agitate for tighter privacy laws, consider by far the majority of people and companies would be on your side. So the choice are you pay google or simply force google to earn less, hmm, I like the idea of sticking it too google and privacy audits and a new per instance fine system (per person per instance). Here's betting we can get a whole lot more privacy for free and still keep our beer.

Re:Willing to pay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022157)

You are unlikely to be rich enough or have the time to pay everyone necessary in order to prevent tracking. It isn't just google doing it, yes they are one of the worst offenders but they are only one of many.

Create an educational project (1)

islisis (589694) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021805)

It certainly has utility-like status, and should be awarded the same protection/regulations as other essential utilities we have come to take for granted over time. It is also unique that it is largely manpower limited and can quickly evolve through the spread of ideas alone. Why not allow search to return to its birthplace, in the hands of academic institutions? Governments should pool funds to create working sets of networks, with various policies drafted by the respective committees. Research should be collaborative and shared like other academic realms.

Search should be considered as an educational utility, at least on some basic social level. And on this level it should be tax-payer funded.

Re:Create an educational project (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022003)

And on this level it should be tax-payer funded.

So I should pay higher taxes to ensure that I only see ads for stuff I am not interested in?

Re:Create an educational project (1)

islisis (589694) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022139)

The correct regulations should certainly be in place to deny the kind of sponsorship model responsible for web ads in the first place.

Much less than $20/month (1)

Psychotic_Wrath (693928) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021811)

A quick search gives an estimate of 400 million to a billion users a month. Lets be conservative and say only 100 million users/month. Times that by 20 and you get 2 billion. That is a lot more than what Google makes in a month. Certainly more than what they make by simply selling data from their users. I would think maybe $1/month should be enough, maybe $2/month to make it worth their while to setup and such. I think $2 is much more than what they make every month.

Re:Much less than $20/month (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021893)

And the reason that business model isn't viable is because most people aren't willing to pay that much to access a website. They'll just switch to Bing.

Re:Much less than $20/month (2)

guruevi (827432) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021945)

Total consolidated revenue for Google is 50,175,000,000 (50 Billion). They serve about 1 Billion users, that's $50/user that they will perpetually make.

The thing to consider is that regardless of whether or not you choose to pay, they will make $50/year from your data and that data is already largely anonymized and aggregated, it's not like advertisers pay them specifically to track YOU therefore YOU have no loss of privacy per se (only the illusion that you have lost it since machines are able to very specifically target to a certain subgroup you identify with).

Also, don't forget that this is a perpetual income stream. If you stop paying your $10/month (or whatever) they lose revenue. If you stop servicing through them however, they will continue to keep all your data and continue to aggregate and sell it's anonymized content continuing to generate revenue from your past.

You think utilities don't track you? (4, Interesting)

Tony Isaac (1301187) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021833)

Your electric company is likely installing "smart" meters in your area...so they can track you more easily. Your phone company--cellular or otherwise--tracks your every move, literally. Your cable TV provider tracks your viewing habits in minute detail. What makes you think that treating Google "like a utility" will make them stop tracking you...or even stop sending you advertisements?

Remember when cable TV first came on the scene? They offered "commercial-free" television, in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. You can see how well that idea worked out!

Your offer of money wouldn't really change anything. It would only give you temporary relief, and Google more of your money than they need to have.

The PBS model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021851)

How many volunteers would it take to run a decent search engine? Maybe not as many as you think. Then they wouldn't be commercial slaves or share your information with anybody beyond what was necessary. Really. It might not be that hard. Google always returns a bazillion results; but you only use a few dozen at the most. It shouldn't be too hard to generate a few dozen results for most topics over a period of several years, and keep it up to date. In other words, why not just start with Wikipedia because that's where most of my Google searches end up anyway.

Re:The PBS model (2)

fredgiblet (1063752) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022033)

Or you can just use DuckDuckGo

Re:The PBS model (1)

HJED (1304957) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022339)

Because often people don't want the same 7 results for the same set of keywords.

Information has other uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021853)

Paying to have advertisements removed is very different from paying to prevent tracking. Your personal information has many more uses to a company than just how much than they can sell it for. For many of the services which technology companies provide, such as when Google decides which search results are most applicable to you, a store of personal information is absolutely essential. Few companies are willing to compromise the quality of their services, and therefore their reputation, on the whims of a few individual users.

The customer doesn't always know what's right: indeed, listening to the customer in this case could be corporate suicide.

Google Offers a fully protected data plan... (2, Interesting)

DontScotty (978874) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021869)

It's called the "Jack Mehoff" account.

1) Create a Google sign in with "Jack Mehoff" or another name
2) ???
3) Live a profitable and secure life

Re:Google Offers a fully protected data plan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022057)

The problem is that "Jack Mehoff" might want to communicate with his friends or workplace. Perhaps even sign some emails with his real name. One day he might need help with directions from Google Maps, sure he might not give the exact true address but still private information is gathered. After a while "Jack Mehoff" has become the same as Jack Mehoff and all is back to normal.

Kerala Tourism (-1, Offtopic)

indiamap (2852183) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022381)

Kerala Tourism [indiainmaps.com] Kerala Tourism - Know about the list of all Tourist Places in Kerala with kerala tourism photos, Kerala Tourist Map. There is no shortage of incredible tourist places to visit in Kerala, Though the whole of Kerala has itself the unique places to visit in india along with its rich biodiversity and unmatched natural attractions. Kerala Tourism"Tourism in kerala

another fundamental problem. (2)

queazocotal (915608) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021889)

Your subscription has to not only exceed the revenue from the ads you may receive.
It has to exceed the total loss to Google from the whole customer base.
If I can buy Google with no ads for $10/mo, then Google ads become served to a whole lot less people for who $10/mo is irrelevant.
These are some of the most lucrative recipients, and creaming off the richest customers from the ad-base reduces the amount advertisers will pay.

Re:another fundamental problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022607)

That's hardly "fundamental". These "lucrative recipients/richest customers" will have some value (whatever it is), and the price can be derived from that.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021913)

Are you a terrorist?

Not going to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021951)

or are there other people who would happily pay for their private use of these services?

Probably not.

What exactly are you paying for them not to do? You won't get a complete answer because they don't want to let competitors and spammers know exactly how they use some information. For example, does google use the pattern of clicks on search results to determine ranking of those results over time? If they tell you your payment opts you out of that tracking, they just gave spammers a bug hint. How much would you pay if it is not clear what they are going to not do with your data?

Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021977)

This story is just trolling the free-market retards.

IPL Auction | IPL Auction 2013 | Indian Premier Le (-1, Offtopic)

Kajal Pal (2842633) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021991)

Get Get Complete info of Indian Premier League Auction 2013, IPL 2013 Players Auction News and IPL 6 Auction Updates. IPL Players Auction News. Indian Premier League (IPL6) Auction updates. http://www.onlinesportsworld.com/ipl-2013/auction.html [onlinesportsworld.com]

am I the only one (1)

issicus (2031176) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022077)

who doesn't really have a problem with their web traffic being tracked?

Re:am I the only one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022423)

No, loads of people don't worry about it. But please take people with a different outlook on things as seriously as you want them to take you.

I'll explain why I worry about it, even if Google keeps the information to itself and never does anything really evil with it. Last week I was looking for information about a personal subject I don't want to share with everybody. Some of the sites I found had YouTube videos, and I watched a few. Hours later on the same day, someone told me about a certain musician, and we looked up some videos on YouTube. YouTube shows suggestions for other videos when playing one. It contained several suggestions for videos about the personal subject, with someone looking at the screen I wasn't about to share this with. Thank you Google (which owns YouTube in case you weren't aware of it). The same thing can happen with targeted ads, and any kind of personalization based on your behaviour.

Normally I don't notice this because I've configured my browser to expire cookies when it's closed, and it seems tracking is usually still based on cookies rather than IP addresses. This time it caught me by surprise.

Google, and several others, are in a position where it's difficult to avoid them. That means that people will share confidential information with them, sometimes without even being aware of it. Companies like that effectively behave like the type of people who, after being told something in confidence, will start talking about it enthousiastically with other people present. They have no discretion.

If you have no problem with that, good for you. But I hope you can understand why other people do have a problem with it.

If you don't like it, don't use it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022115)

If you don't like it, then don't use it. It's a free country.

Most Google services have paid competitors (2)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022123)

Which services, specifically? Most services Google offers have paid competitors. Google Maps? There are plenty of mapping apps. Gmail? Your ISP already provides you email. If you don't trust your ISP, reagan.com has an email service with strong privacy guarantees.

Have you purchased Streets and Trips, or a Delorme product and do you use it? If not, there's the answer - the premise is flawed because you in fact do NOT choose to pay cash. Rather, you prefer Google's ad based model. I do too, for many services Google offers - I use their navigation and if that gets me an ad for some tourist attraction that's on my route, I'm okay with that. I choose not to use their email service, and pay with my time, maintaining my own email system.

Facebook / social networking is kind of the oddball. The whole POINT is that it keeps track of who your social circle is, so that really can't be done without a big ass database connecting friends and friends-of-friends.

I trust Google more than the Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022129)

Google is not trying to single anyone out. As explained above, it's all about Google being the "Trusted party" between the advertisers and the users.

I much rather have Google as a single point control this data, than having to trust EACH advertiser.

The biggest problem is with the Government, When they come knocking there is nothing anyone (including Google) can do.
The only thing they CAN and have done (they are not obligated, heck, sure the fed's would be happier if this stayed a dirty little secret) Google regularly publishes information about how many requests they receive from the Government.

If you worry about your privacy - THAT is who you should try to reign in!

(Captcha: Blunting)

Slashdot trolling again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022133)

A link about how Facebook and Google are selling data that the referenced page doesn't support at all.

Sigh :(

Pay, for google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022151)

I'd rather use Bing, or any other free alternative.
It's not that hard to not give the big companies all your private info. You're the one who set up that facebook account, you're the one who gave his real name to google, you're the one who made it possible for them to sell that info you willingly shared with them. Why should everyone be penalized for your own mistakes on the internet? This is how the internet works, if you still don't get it, just cut your internet cable and be afraid of "big brother" instead.

Facebook and Google (1)

nicobigsby (1418849) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022177)

Are not utilities. Electricity, gas, water, and sewage are all fundamentally integral to society. The bottom line is that your life is not threatened if you decide you can't use facebook or google because you don't like the way they handle your information. There are also plenty of competing services available to you. Stop whining for the government to make companies do what you want. Vote with your money. If you don't like facebook's service, don't use it, same for google, or any other service.

They shoul dbe paying you (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022179)

The summary has this completely arse backwards and is really a warped view of the world. Your privacy is your right, companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft et al should be paying YOU in order to track you, that is assuming you approve of it at all. They have absolutely no need whatsoever to track you, yes they make more money by being able to track and manipulate you but that is hardly right they should have and it is completely fucked that anyone should think you should have to pay not to be manipulated.

Its simple and free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022205)

Want to not be tracked? Use Tor
Want to not be untraceable by your email provider or ISP? use tormail
But %99.99x of the people think having fast internet is more important than having privacy so having the above and also interacting with your friends and family in a way that makes he think you are not a paranoid nutjob is impossible... maybe you are better off just taking the soma and not worrying about it.

Re:Its simple and free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022529)

Want to not be tracked? Use Tor

If you think it is that simple, you are delusional. Cookies (or any of the other techniques of storing data permanently on your computer and sending it back) already are sufficient to track your online identity, even if using Tor exclusively. Moreover, if you ever contacted the tracking site without Tor, the cookie can also be used to connect your identity with an IP address.

In addition, the headers your browser sends for every HTTP request can also aid in identifying you. Moreover, with JavaScript you can gather even more characteristics of the destination system, further adding to the pool of data useful for identification.

And of course if you use a login for any service, you are known to that service by that login. And if you use several services at the same company, they can connect the data from your use at each of them.

Paid Accounts (1)

rmanchu (1405785) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022231)

In the spirit of the original poster - I would look forward it. However, I am skeptical - even from Google.

No. (1)

Threni (635302) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022341)

You have the option of starting your own company and operating it that way. But it's a little bit..`entitled` to lie in your bed and dribble silly ideas into your tablet about how other people's companies should be run, because it's none of your business.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022593)

He may just be a stupid communist. That would explain everything.

No thanks (1)

rossdee (243626) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022411)

I don't want to pay another monthly bill (likr the power bill, gas bill and cable/internet/phone)

In fact i don't pay Google anything, I get my Android Apps from Amazon

Tip of the iceberg (1)

Hypotensive (2836435) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022537)

If you started doing this you would quickly realize that you would have to subscribe to a whole raft of companies in the business of tracking and profiling you.

Your only real recourse is to take responsibility for your own privacy, and learn the various mechanisms by which you can defeat their attempts to capture the information and/or devalue the quality of the information they obtain such that they have little economic incentive to do so.

Don't want ads? Google it. (1)

whozatmac (2771555) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022547)

In essence, they are paying us. The services provided, free of fee, are not free to create or deploy. They cost money. And providing them free of fee is offering a good for a good. I for one am a significant google user. I depend on their email, their docs/drive service, and their android aosp project to manage my day. It comes with ads. Which I block, using tools I download from their services. I am continually astonished and appreciative of how easy it actually is to opt out of most of the adsense network. I downloaded an adblocking utility for my android phone from the 'play store,' and adblock from the 'chrome store.' I use incognito mode in both to dodge a couple of pay walls. Google is both the largest user of tracking based ads, and the least aggressive. We deal. I for one agree with the OP. The trouble is, the best services available are ad supported, because that's the business model that's working. Anyone bought webmail service lately? was it better than gmail? I don't like ad supported services. I'd rather pay. But I want to pay google, not some $0.50 operation that cant deliver what the google can. so frankly, i appreciate how easy google makes it to not pay my information as collateral for services. Don't want ads? Google it.

You'll probably be horrified at the cost (2)

NitWit005 (1717412) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022553)

People underestimate how much is spent advertising to them. At one point the New York Times had an article on Facebook that noted you were only worth $5 a year to Facebook, when the NYTimes was getting $1000 annually per subscriber with their "declining" print business.

Would you pay $1000 annually for the New York Times? Probably not. Newspapers used to be very expensive and people rarely bought them. The model of putting ads in them caused a huge surge in sales. The ads were annoying as hell, they didn't cost you anything personally.

There are paid competitors to many Google products. People chose to use free versions with ads instead.

Google is NOT selling information about you. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022579)

Google is NOT selling information about you.
They just use it to match advertisements, but nobody outside gets any of these information, not even that a particular ad was matched to you.

Will you stop lying about Google?

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