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Should you Fear Google?

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the no-more-than-anybody-else dept.

The Internet 588

Ponty writes "Google-watch.com is presenting a list of nine complaints about (almost) everybody's favorite search engine. Some of the salient fears are "Google has no data retention policies. There is evidence that they are able to easily access all the user information they collect and save." and "Matt Cutts, a key Google engineer, used to work for the National Security Agency." The concerns seem like paranoid hand waving to me, but maybe I'm not paranoid enough."

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Umm.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325681)

Is this the article about Tom's Hardware?

Re:Umm.... (1)

Ponty (15710) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325691)

Yes. I changed the text, but the URL points to Tom's hardware. Ha!

Hey, France! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325840)

Fuck you.

Everybody needs to get in his or her "fuck you, France!" at least once a day!

Thank you.

Re:Hey, France! (-1, Redundant)

Ponty (15710) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325897)

I'm not France. I'm Belgium! Ha! Take that, NATO!

HOW NOT TO FAIL THINGS (-1, Offtopic)

Failed It You Have!! (651166) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325683)

This is how you don't fail things, suckers , without any further distractions, Alomar is gearing up for what he hopes will be a bounce back season. He said he's thrilled at the prospect of playing with newly signed shortstop Rey Sanchez and that the idea of having a set spot in the batting order is something he relishes. What seemed to spark him the most, however, was the fact the Mets would play four games against Montreal in his native Puerto Rico in April. "I'm looking forward to playing in Puerto Rico," Alomar said. "It's an opportunity I never thought FIRST POST! I was going to have, playing in Puerto Rico in a big league uniform. That is a blessing to have the chance for my fans, my family and all the young guys that never had a chance to see me in the States play. It's like a dream come true. I'm excited. The people of Puerto Rico are excited. It's good for baseball and it's good for Puerto Rico."

Re:HOW NOT TO FAIL THINGS (0)

fussman (607784) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325708)

How ironic that you fail it yourself?

YOU FAIL IT! (-1)

YOU FAIL IT! (624257) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325719)

How to NOT fail things? This is not the first post! YOU HAVE FAILED!!!

(keep up the good work by the way)

YOU FAIL IT!

Google should scare you (5, Insightful)

starfighter_org (530923) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325697)

Google is a pretty public thing. Now, consider what sort of capabilities the NSA/echelon really has, considering they've been working on this sort of technology for years.

Re:Google should scare you (2)

mvw (2916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325791)

Now, consider what sort of capabilities the NSA/echelon really has

They probably sold an inhouse version of Google to the NSA.

It's sure even more fun to use than the Dejagnus archive of Usenet. :)

Should you fear Google? (4, Insightful)

sql*kitten (1359) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325698)

"Google has no data retention policies. There is evidence that they are able to easily access all the user information they collect and save." and "Matt Cutts, a key Google engineer, used to work for the National Security Agency." The concerns seem like paranoid hand waving to me, but maybe I'm not paranoid enough.

Should you fear Google? No, not until such time a law is passed - and actively enforced - that you must use it for every search, and all other search engines must cease their operations.

Since that's not likely to happen anytime soon, the old medical joke applies:

Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do this!
Doctor: Don't do that, then.

Re:Should you fear Google? (5, Insightful)

Ponty (15710) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325736)

Well, I wanted to mention in the submission that it seems like the authors are pretty darned dumb. "They are able to easily access all the user information they collect and save"? Duh! They're a search engine. If they didn't easily access all the information that they collect and save, they'd be a pretty bad search engine.

All of their practices that are decried in the webpage are either perfectly normal behavior (the cookies) or just not an issue (NSA, etc.)

Re:Should you fear Google? (3, Troll)

MrWa (144753) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325813)

Well, I wanted to mention in the submission that it seems like the authors are pretty darned dumb

Then why did you submit it? "Crackpot claims Earth is flat" doesn't get submitted - so why should "Crackpot believes Google ate his brain"? We could, of course, submit it twice and people would be more than happy to make funny jokes about dupes - now that would be /. material.

Re:Should you fear Google? (5, Interesting)

devaldez (310051) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325818)

I especially like the quote "Google hires spooks." Perhaps it's because I work for a large company, but I know of several special forces folks here whose old work involved infiltration and intelligence gathering...

Should I avoid anything that includes "spooks?" Obviously I should avoid Minnesota, Utah, and several other states because they elect "spooks."
(though some *might* suggest that I avoid those states for other reasons;)

Re:Should you fear Google? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325896)

Great call, man. Seriously, wtf is up with these "US government = conspiracy" people?

Son of Tsarkon (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325700)

IN soviet russia, google fears you!

Re:Son of Tsarkon (2, Funny)

GothicManSlut (587638) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325850)

in china google is feared ;p

Slashdot effect? (2, Informative)

FlydinSlip (531842) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325701)

Um... google-watch.com does not exist, and google-watch.org is dead... "document contains no data"...

Check back later...

Re:Slashdot effect? (5, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325894)

> Um... google-watch.com does not exist, and google-watch.org is dead... "document contains no data"...

Now you too, know to FEAR the Google!

Re:Slashdot effect? (5, Funny)

jeffsix (547228) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325906)

That's not a problem - just use the Google cache to find it!

Linux? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325712)

What about the fact that they dont utilize Liunux technology's enough?

The Google people started on Linux, but since than have moved %40 of there machines to Sun Blade servers. Oh, and why dump MYSQL to? MYSQL just plain works (it runs /.!), theres no need to upgrade to Oracle.

[This post in honor of AV [slashdot.org] ]

Re:Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325765)

MySQL can't handle the same volume. Yeah it can handle just about anything I would ever need a database for, but Jesus christ man, once you get into CATALOGING THE WHOLE FUCKING INTERNET you might as well go for something a little more upscale.

Re:Linux? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325821)

once you get into THE WHOLE FUCKING INTERNET

You mean all p0rn sites? :)

Re:Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325837)

YHBT.

Oh, bullshit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325882)

Whay are you putting down MySQL? Just ad hominem attacking MySQL without any substance.

I think you are astroturfing for M$.

I don't get it... (4, Insightful)

addaon (41825) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325715)

I guess I don't see what the big deal is. If you don't want cookies, don't accept them. If you don't like their published policies for the toolbar, don't install it. If you don't want them accessing your IP, you should be surfing through an anonymizer. If you don't like that they record your searches... then don't use a search engine. Nothing that google does is hidden, malicious, or surprising, and all of it is avoidable.

Re:I don't get it... (0, Troll)

fleener (140714) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325786)

Ahhh, so the onus is on me to pay extra out of my wallet to maintain my privacy. So your position is that we have no expectation of privacy. Excuse me while I set up a spy cam in your living room. What??? you ask. A spycam is far less invasive than the data collection occurring on the web today... creating a socio-economic-political profile of you to better manipulate your behavior for corporate means. See how you like it 10 years from now.

Re:I don't get it... (5, Insightful)

addaon (41825) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325841)

No, you do not have permission to set up a spy cam in my living room. Feel free to set one up in your living room (that is, the property you own... as google owns their servers and associated resources), and I'll probably still come and visit without complaining, as long as you tell me (as google does in their privacy statement). Now, you could argue that if the camera is in your room, you don't have a responsibility to inform me... but that's a moot point now, since google very clearly does.

You need make no effort to maintain your privacy. As long as you do nothing, your privacy is inviolate (at least by google). It is when you take an active action and hand some third party your information on a silver platter (or a tcp packet) that it is, yes, your responsibility to ask that third part what they plan to do with your gift (there's no contract, is there?) to them.

Yes, you really don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325893)

Ahh, if we care about privacy we should drop out of society. Great philosophy. How is Uncle Ashcroft doing by the way? Does he visit you much?

Re:I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325895)

so the onus is on me to pay extra out of my wallet to maintain my privacy

Where, exactly did he say that?

Why do you believe that you need to "pay out of your wallet" to refuse cookies?

Ooooooh! Scary!! (5, Funny)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325718)

You mean... somebody at google used to work for the dreaded NSA?!?!!

Oh, the humanity...

That would be like, say, using Slashdot to post stories after stories that are highly critical of Microsoft.

Oh, wait... Never mind... ;)

Where's Oliver Stone when you need him? (-1, Troll)

mveloso (325617) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325722)



Google sends a copy of all the indexed documents to the US Government for tracking, as well as an updated realtime list of everone who visits those pages. They also employ hackers to break into company intranets, suck as much confidential web content as they can using their high-tech web spiders, and sell that data to the Chinese.

Re:Where's Oliver Stone when you need him? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325754)

Funny guy, until you realize the socio-political-economic profile we have on you. You're sheep.

You're never paranoid enough... (5, Funny)

AugstWest (79042) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325723)

...until they kick in your door and drag you off to their headquarters and interrogate you within an inch of your life.

But seriously, if you're one of those people who is always paranoid that someone is watching you, just imagine how boring that poor person's life must be.

At this point I've decided that even if there are people assigned to watch me, I feel more sorry for them than I would for myself.

Re:You're never paranoid enough... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325799)

At this point I've decided that even if there are people assigned to watch me, I feel more sorry for them than I would for myself.

Amen brother. You are the most boring assignment we've ever had. For the love of Pete, do something interesting.

(Posted anonymously for obvious reasons.)

Wager your privacy (4, Insightful)

fleener (140714) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325725)

Suppose you're willing to wager your privacy on Google. OK, fair bet... but you are also betting that Google will never be sold to the likes of AOL or Microsoft or Wal*Mart or any other MegaEvil Corp.

Re:Wager your privacy (1)

Ponty (15710) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325790)

Whta's evil about Wal*Mart beside their nasty habit of destroying local businesses?

I don't shop there, but I don't fear them outside the context of the local hardware store's fear for them. I couldn't care less what they do with my personal information, to tell you the truth.

Re:Wager your privacy (1)

fleener (140714) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325864)

OK, you don't care that companies will have extensive knowledge of the intimate details of your life. Personally, I fear a future in which Wal*Mart knows more about me than my wife.

Re:Wager your privacy (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325875)

Whta's evil about Wal*Mart beside their nasty habit of destroying local businesses?

Denying employees basic rights, locking employees in stores and forcing them to work overtime and then not paying them, things like that.

Re:Wager your privacy (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325845)

What is there to keep private? Unless you're searching for your own credit card numbers or SSN or other confidential data, or sick stuff like child porn, who gives a shit? And if you're doing that, you deserve to get ridden.

And if you think corporations are actually 'evil', then you've got some serious issues with reality. They are self-serving, which can indeed clash with public opinion and privacy, but they are not 'evil'.

Don't anthropomorphise corporations. They are merely collections of individual human beings just like you and me.

Re:Wager your privacy (1)

Twylite (234238) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325853)

Precedent has it that acquiring.evil.mega.corp rewrites the data retention / privacy policy to allow them to do as they please, irrespective of any clauses, promises or contractual arrangement to the contrary.

Almost all such policies have at least some leeway for the site to make (minor) modifications (otherwise even correcting a typo would, theoretically, change the contract); so mega.corp simply argues that its new policy is a permissable change. Then it leaves it to the users it has pissed on/off to bring a class action against them, which it will drag on in court for years, and maybe eventually (albeit unlikely) pay some damages ... way after the damage to you has been done.

The short of it is: you can't trust ANY company or person with private information. All you can do is weigh the risk, and decide how much you think you can get back (in damages) if (when) they abuse it.

It is the best people finder out there (5, Interesting)

ACNeal (595975) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325729)

They have a scarey people finding interface.

Reverse phone number search.

It is the first place I go looking for people and numbers.

Whether I'd be scared by it, I don't know. All the information it has is a matter of public record anyway. Google makes it a lot easier to access, but what does that really matter. If the crank caller picked up a phone book in your home town, or off the internet from across the country.

I'd say its paranoia. Your information is out there anyway.

Re:It is the best people finder out there (3, Informative)

Bandman (86149) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325904)

Infospace [infospace.com] is your friend here :-) I /LOVE/ that site .

It's perfect for all your stalking needs. It will even give you a map to the person's house.

I still dont understand... (5, Insightful)

tarnin (639523) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325730)

Why people keep treating google like its the end all be all. Ya, its a great search engine, does what it has to well and does it fast but out side of that ahh so what? If you are basing your entire company existance on a search engine then I think you need to reevaluate your current business practices.

Google is free remember, doenst charge people or companies to be listed and works off a nice referer system for site ranking. Yes its not infalable but neither is anything else so why do compaines keep getting up in arms about it?

From what it seems like to me is that companies are looking for (as usual) the cheap and easy way out on advertising. When their site doesnt rank where they want it to on google, they complain, call them cheats, etc... Well, tuff. Google is a privatly owned company who is providing a free service to others. If they want to black list your name and make sure it never comes up again in their database, oh well. They have that right. Instead of complaining, bringing up law suits, and making entire sites trying to debunk a search engine, why not try and make a good product/service/etc..?

Number 2 (5, Interesting)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325731)

Increasingly, Google is customizing results based on your IP number. This is referred to in the industry as "IP delivery based on geolocation.""

Much like anyone else trying to make web-based advertising profitable.

karma whoring... (1, Interesting)

lazelank (454849) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325735)

Google deserves your nomination
for Big Brother of the Year

Nominations accepted here during February 2003 only

1. Google's immortal cookie:
Google was the first search engine to use a cookie that expires in 2038. This was at a time when federal websites were prohibited from using persistent cookies altogether. Now it's years later, and immortal cookies are commonplace among search engines; Google set the standard because no one bothered to challenge them. This cookie places a unique ID number on your hard disk. Anytime you land on a Google page, you get a Google cookie if you don't already have one. If you have one, they read and record your unique ID number.

2. Google records everything they can:
For all searches they record the cookie ID, your Internet IP address, the time and date, your search terms, and your browser configuration. Increasingly, Google is customizing results based on your IP number. This is referred to in the industry as "IP delivery based on geolocation."

3. Google retains all data indefinitely:
Google has no data retention policies. There is evidence that they are able to easily access all the user information they collect and save.

4. Google won't say why they need this data:
Inquiries to Google about their privacy policies are ignored. When the New York Times (2002-11-28) asked Sergey Brin about whether Google ever gets subpoenaed for this information, he had no comment.

5. Google hires spooks:
Matt Cutts, a key Google engineer, used to work for the National Security Agency. Google wants to hire more people with security clearances, so that they can peddle their corporate assets to the spooks in Washington.

6. Google's toolbar is spyware:
With the advanced features enabled, Google's free toolbar for Explorer phones home with every page you surf. Yes, it reads your cookie too, and sends along the last search terms you used in the toolbar. Their privacy policy confesses this, but that's only because Alexa lost a class-action lawsuit when their toolbar did the same thing, and their privacy policy failed to explain this. Worse yet, Google's toolbar updates to new versions quietly, and without asking. This means that if you have the toolbar installed, Google essentially has complete access to your hard disk every time you phone home. Most software vendors, and even Microsoft, ask if you'd like an updated version. But not Google.

7. Google's cache copy is illegal:
Judging from Ninth Circuit precedent on the application of U.S. copyright laws to the Internet, Google's cache copy appears to be illegal. The only way a webmaster can avoid having his site cached on Google is to put a "noarchive" meta in the header of every page on his site. Surfers like the cache, but webmasters don't. Many webmasters have deleted questionable material from their sites, only to discover later that the problem pages live merrily on in Google's cache. The cache copy should be "opt-in" for webmasters, not "opt-out."

8. Google is not your friend:
Young, stupid script kiddies and many bloggers still think Google is "way kool," so by now Google enjoys a 75 percent monopoly for all external referrals to most websites. No webmaster can avoid seeking Google's approval these days, assuming he wants to increase traffic to his site. If he tries to take advantage of some of the known weaknesses in Google's semi-secret algorithms, he may find himself penalized by Google, and his traffic disappears. There are no detailed, published standards issued by Google, and there is no appeal process for penalized sites. Google is completely unaccountable. Most of the time they don't even answer email from webmasters.

9. Google is a privacy time bomb:
With 150 million searches per day, most from outside the U.S., Google amounts to a privacy disaster waiting to happen. Those newly-commissioned data-mining bureaucrats in Washington can only dream about the sort of slick efficiency that Google has already achieved. Google deserves your nomination for corporate Big Brother of the Year.

Google Watch home page

Re:karma whoring... (0, Offtopic)

NETHED (258016) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325792)

More karma whoring

A mirror [dyndns.org]

Re:karma whoring... (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325798)

Thanks I needed a laugh.
I now plan to go and set up an alta-vista watch site, at its higth it had far more of the market. And lets not forget about yahoo watch.

Google is becoming the global memory... (5, Interesting)

ites (600337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325741)

In which everything that has been recorded will find its way into Google's caches. Today: every web page in existence, every newsgroup article ever posted (but where is that ABEPB cache, I wonder?), tomorrow every click you make, every step you take.

I think paranoia is not an extreme reaction, because although Google has been exemplary in their behavior so far, such a centralization of information will, one day, become a target for malicious groups.

Ignore this article. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325745)

Some quality reporting right there.

I read it the other day, and it's pretty stupid.

Paranoia (3, Funny)

thinmac (98095) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325752)

And George Washingon used to work for the British! The whole revolutionary war was really engineered by the British for some nafarious reason we've yet to discover.

Especially in this day and age, I think it should suprise no one that people change jobs periodically. Doesn't mean that they're really working for their first employer at the costs of their current one.

Next story... (1, Funny)

DreddUK (255582) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325753)

I get the strangest feeling that the next story posted is going to be about processors or something, maybe from Toms Hardware......

Wierd...

One question (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325756)

I'm not too knowledgable on these things, so if this is a stupid question, forgive me. Are there any data-collecting methods listed in the link that cannot be easily thwarted by clearing your cache regularly?

If not, then what's the problem?

Why they are WRONG (5, Interesting)

NETHED (258016) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325757)

1. So disallow cookies! It works fine with out them.

2. Google uses that statistical information to improve thier search algorithems.

3. What are they talking about?

4. Would you share the reason why your search engine is 100X better than the next runner up?

5. That is the DUMBEST reason ever

6. The Google toolbar TELLS you it is spyware, multiple times, and gives you the option of NOT participating.

7. The Google cache is just as illegal as the cache you have of the site on your computer. Except that they are using THIER bandwidth to provide a service, for FREE.

8. Google is the best search engine out there, come up with something better and someone will make fun of that.

9. Ok, maybe THIS is the dumbest reason ever. Most paranoid too.

These clowns again? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325759)

Isn't this the same bunch if clowns that sued Google because their PageRank system was "unfair"? Fuck 'em!

Bring out the Paranoid Conspiracy Theorists (1)

SystematicPsycho (456042) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325761)

So they set up this site entirely on analysing google from the top down? Is this site run by scientologists?

Leave google alone!

dang... It's kind of sick (1)

dance2die (596340) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325763)

Man.. I've had utmost trusts for Google so far...
I guess I better think twice before using google from now on

Good thing they used the noarchive meta tag (0, Funny)

diatonic (318560) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325766)

Now we can't use a Google cache to view the slashdotted page. Doubt this is what they had in mind when they did that.

.:diatonic:.

Re:Good thing they used the noarchive meta tag (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325856)

Good thing that with this denied most of their point. If google is so evil, would it respect that kind of tags?

Always check the source (5, Interesting)

Erik Fish (106896) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325767)

From this article [pressaction.com] interviewing Daniel Brandt (the man behind Google Watch as well as Namebase [namebase.org] ):


We have tens of thousands of these pages indexed in Google. If you don't spend time understanding how the search engines work, you can forget about attracting any serious traffic to your site.


Where have we heard this before? Oh yeah, I remember now: From every marketroid who ever got in a tizzy because his web site wasn't appearing at the top of the list the way the highly paid search engine gaming conslutant promised it would.

You think THAT is scary... (4, Funny)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325768)


Well just look at this Google v NSA [google.com] how do we know that in fact Google isn't PART of the NSA! Oh yes its true, the voices tell me so. They patent the technology, they have key employees already there. Its like the Special Services, you know those people who are ex-Marines but now aren't "officially" part of the US military because its secret.

Oh yes, Google is the Special Ops division of the NSA. Its true I tell you its true.

Brought to you by the same people who saw Black UN Helicopters after the Oklahoma bombing.

From the people who brought us "Reefer Madness" (1)

Apostata (390629) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325770)


If there's anything worse than a corporation that doesn't hide it's troubling/unethical behaviour, it's a knee-jerk reactionary website where disparate characteristics are conveniently grouped together, very tightly, in the desperate hope that they will make sense to someone perhaps less paranoid (or more) than the author.

Should you fear google-watch.com? (5, Funny)

ratbag (65209) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325773)

1. They have no policy on anything.
2. We don't know who they are.
3. They don't provide any contact details.
4. Their home page contains (ominous music) "no data".
5. erm.
6. that's it.

I'm not worried... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325777)

... my tinfoil hat will protect me :-)

but could you live without it (4, Informative)

phrantic (630202) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325781)

pop quiz: List the top ten sites that you cannot live without? I bet google is on it if not in position 1.
Some of the points on the list are double edged swords, it records everything it can, and it retains it forever, I know the articles means records everything about our usage etc, but the flip side is,
1) how often has it saved your ass when you couldn't remember the bloody syntax for a correlated sub query on Oracle,
2)Someone said go to www.soontobeslashdotted.com and you find that it is down...

arrange the words cake, eat, can't have, you, and, it & your into a well known phrase

What?! No google cache?! (1)

GnomeKing (564248) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325785)

No cache! [google.co.uk]

The NSA must have removed it!

Re:What?! No google cache?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325808)

Looks like your link was a bit wrong

try this one [google.co.uk]

Article text (-1, Redundant)

chrestomanci (558400) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325793)

The page was slow to load when I reached it, so I guess it will be slashdoted anytime soon.

1. Google's immortal cookie:
Google was the first search engine to use a cookie that expires in 2038. This was at a time when federal websites were prohibited from using persistent cookies altogether. Now it's years later, and immortal cookies are commonplace among search engines; Google set the standard because no one bothered to challenge them. This cookie places a unique ID number on your hard disk. Anytime you land on a Google page, you get a Google cookie if you don't already have one. If you have one, they read and record your unique ID number.

2. Google records everything they can:
For all searches they record the cookie ID, your Internet IP address, the time and date, your search terms, and your browser configuration. Increasingly, Google is customizing results based on your IP number. This is referred to in the industry as "IP delivery based on geolocation."

3. Google retains all data indefinitely:
Google has no data retention policies. There is evidence that they are able to easily access all the user information they collect and save.

4. Google won't say why they need this data:
Inquiries to Google about their privacy policies are ignored. When the New York Times (2002-11-28) asked Sergey Brin about whether Google ever gets subpoenaed for this information, he had no comment.

5. Google hires spooks:
Matt Cutts, a key Google engineer, used to work for the National Security Agency. Google wants to hire more people with security clearances, so that they can peddle their corporate assets to the spooks in Washington.

6. Google's toolbar is spyware:
With the advanced features enabled, Google's free toolbar for Explorer phones home with every page you surf. Yes, it reads your cookie too, and sends along the last search terms you used in the toolbar. Their privacy policy confesses this, but that's only because Alexa lost a class-action lawsuit when their toolbar did the same thing, and their privacy policy failed to explain this. Worse yet, Google's toolbar updates to new versions quietly, and without asking. This means that if you have the toolbar installed, Google essentially has complete access to your hard disk every time you phone home. Most software vendors, and even Microsoft, ask if you'd like an updated version. But not Google.

7. Google's cache copy is illegal:
Judging from Ninth Circuit precedent on the application of U.S. copyright laws to the Internet, Google's cache copy appears to be illegal. The only way a webmaster can avoid having his site cached on Google is to put a "noarchive" meta in the header of every page on his site. Surfers like the cache, but webmasters don't. Many webmasters have deleted questionable material from their sites, only to discover later that the problem pages live merrily on in Google's cache. The cache copy should be "opt-in" for webmasters, not "opt-out."

8. Google is not your friend:
Young, stupid script kiddies and many bloggers still think Google is "way kool," so by now Google enjoys a 75 percent monopoly for all external referrals to most websites. No webmaster can avoid seeking Google's approval these days, assuming he wants to increase traffic to his site. If he tries to take advantage of some of the known weaknesses in Google's semi-secret algorithms, he may find himself penalized by Google, and his traffic disappears. There are no detailed, published standards issued by Google, and there is no appeal process for penalized sites. Google is completely unaccountable. Most of the time they don't even answer email from webmasters.

9. Google is a privacy time bomb:
With 150 million searches per day, most from outside the U.S., Google amounts to a privacy disaster waiting to happen. Those newly-commissioned data-mining bureaucrats in Washington can only dream about the sort of slick efficiency that Google has already achieved. Google deserves your nomination [privacyinternational.org] for corporate Big Brother of the Year.

Visited this before (1)

bruthasj (175228) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325794)

Another dupe? Anyway, Aaron Swartz gave good commentary in his weblog here [blogspace.com] . It's got some linkage. Quote from Enemy of the State: "Well whose monitoring the monitors?"
Gotta do some monitoring myself, see ya!

uh (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325801)

The concerns seem like paranoid hand waving to me

And thus fits Slashdot like a glove.

Go about your business (1, Funny)

DjMd (541962) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325802)

"The concerns seem like paranoid hand waving to me, but maybe I'm not paranoid enough."
*man in suit/sunglasses waves hand in front of your face*
"You are paranoid enough"
"You can go about your business"


I am paranoid enough, I'll go about my business.

Can't access google-watch (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325804)

I'm getting nowhere trying to access the site. Is it the same list from Privicy International? It too is nine items long. You can read it here [google.co.uk] through the google cache no less :)

so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325806)

when i do a search for lollita preteen pussy or something worse (where is that carnavor keyword list....), they could be tracking my ip?
hmm, not like it matters, doing a clear text search over an insecure network using a clear text protocal, who couldn't be watching me?

--not so AC

Signs (1)

xanadu-xtroot.com (450073) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325810)

/me goes and grabs his tin-foil hat.

These people can't be serious, can they?

Spyware? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325814)

6. Google's toolbar is spyware:
<snip>
With the advanced features enabled, Google's free toolbar for Explorer [...] sends along the last search terms you used in the toolbar
</snip>

Seems to me it wouldn't be a very good search tool if it _didn't_ send the query to google .....

This thing is dead on (5, Funny)

mosch (204) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325820)

I can't believe people haven't realized how evil google is!

I mean, it archives your website!! (unless you add headers or robots.txt directives telling it otherwise)

It sets a cookie!! (unless you don't accept the cookie)

It records searches and user inquiries!! There's no possible use for this. Except perhaps creating a record of searches which were clearly successful, and those that were not, so as to improve the service.

It records all data infinitely!! Again, there's NO possible legitimate and useful application for this, except the improvement of the service. Google must know this: improvements will not be tolerated!

They hire spooks Everybody knows that once you've worked for the NSA you've undergone mental hypnotraining that turns you into an evil government controlled assassin. seriously!

Google's toolbar is spyware! Assuming of course by spyware you mean 'software that you voluntarily and deliberately use, with the full knowledge that you're giving data back to google'

Google controls the results that google gives! Imagine that, the nerve of a search engine service giving RESULTS based on unspecified criteria. Surely they should open their precise ranking algorithm to the public. After all, nobody would steal it and create a knockoff if they had such knowledge, now would they?

In short folks, google must be stopped! hmmm... now where did my medication go again....

Some people fear god too... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Rockstar (624854) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325823)

...but people still bug him with query's.

interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325825)

Most software vendors, and even Microsoft, ask if you'd like an updated version. But not Google.

hey, at least theres something interesting in the page. i always thought some of the MS products update themself aswell.

I hate to ask... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325827)

but, does anyone have a google cache link for this? :)

Now I'm worried.. (4, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325828)


I used to trust google implicitly. I signed over power of attorney to google, I trusted google to change the batteries in my smoke detectors and I asked google to eliminate that burnt toast smell in my house.

Blah Blah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325830)

what a load of horse manure, if your surfing habits are so embarassing and discusting that you don't want google to know then what do you do when another family member or friend or neighbor walks in to your computer room or office, (press the reset button) so they can not see the pr0n or other rubbish you are "googleing"

get a life you fscking FREAKS!!!

Damn! (1)

lar3ry (10905) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325832)

I thought that I figured the easy way around having Google's spy on me...

But this damn aluminum foil around my mouse is causing havoc with my web surfing!

I notice, too, that I dropped my pen on the floor.

WILL THIS NEVER END????

Don't like Google? Don't use it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325833)

There are plenty of other competitors out there for your searching. Nothing forces anyone to use Google, and the people that don't like how they run their business should go elsewhere. They don't owe anything to anyone. Despite what some people would claim, Google is far from a monopoly.

moron fearing GOdless stock markup FraUDs.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325839)

i DOWt googoo is responsibull for any of the larcenious payper liesense hypenosys that fuddles, robbIE, lairIE, et AL, are .consorting on.

don't buy into va.msn.?net? (VAST) [trustworthycomputing.com] , until the sourceforgerIE/fuddles 'partnership' announcemeNT is made.

lookout bullow. run for your options, should you have any left?

va lairIE's PostBlock(tm) device fails again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325858)

icann see modding folks DOWn for whining, butt deletion? that's whoreabull. tell 'em robbIE.

the one you know about.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325844)

At least with google we have free access to most of the data and we know about it...

My problem is with Lexis-Nexis. They warehouse/index EVERYTHING.... including web pages, usenet, court cases, public records (marriage/divorce/births/deaths/city laws and codes)

I wouldnt be surprised if the CIA/NSA/FBI/whatever the new KGB has become/M6 use their services....

Damn, there went all my plans. (1)

nlinecomputers (602059) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325847)

You say that google is tracking everything I say or do. Damn there went all my plans to rule the world. BWWWAAAHAHAHAHAHA! *cough*

As my evil plans have been spoiled I guess I go back to eating day old pizza and watching Star Trek reruns.

Catch a grip (3, Informative)

nagora (177841) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325851)

  1. Google's immortal cookie:There's no such thing unless you want there to be: I delete all cookies on exit and have done for two years now.
  2. Google records everything they can: Let them, then delete the cookie.
  3. Google retains all data indefinitely: That would probably be a good idea for a search engine.
  4. Google won't say why they need this data: Market research? Duh! Did I mention that you could always delete your cookie?
  5. Google hires spooks: Ex-spooks need to eat too, you know. So what if Google is talking to the government about running a search on the web? Here's a clue for you: YOUR WEB PAGES ARE PUBLIC. The government can look at them, so can neo-nazis. If you don't like that then why did you put the pages up?
  6. Google's toolbar is spyware: Then don't install it. You might want to delete that cookie while you're at it.
  7. Google's cache copy is illegal: Then all squid caches are illegal too. You're just talking shite now, aren't you?
  8. Google is not your friend: Well, it's my friend! Finally we get to the nub of the issue - this is a list of "problems" motivated by a failed rival. Get over it or build a better search engine. Google itself is an illustration of how little loyalty there is in this field. We all left Alta Vista when Google became better than it and we'll all leave Google if your engine was better too. Grow up.
  9. Google is a privacy time bomb: Did you delete that cookie and take your "secret" web page down yet?

In short: what a load of bullshit.

TWW

Good grief! (2, Informative)

lovelaceAtWork (570946) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325854)

"Matt Cutts, a key Google engineer, used to work for the National Security Agency."
Oh good grief! I went to grad school with Matt Cutts (at UNC [unc.edu] ) and the people making that accusation know nothing about Matt. These people need to get a life and stop finding conpiracies under every rock. There are more than enough out in the open to worry about (i.e. DMCA, etc...).

Aha! (1)

mwood (25379) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325859)

I *knew* there was another reason I always use AltaVista.

Tinfoil browsers .... (5, Interesting)

watchful.babbler (621535) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325861)

Just to add a little context: the proprieter of google-watch.org [google-watch.org] is one Daniel Brandt, who is almost Biblically ticked off that Google didn't rank his site higher [salon.com] . (To be fair, his site is incredibly useful [namebase.org] for those who don't have quick access to Lexis/Nexis.)

Now, this doesn't necessarily obviate his concerns, but Brandt is a veteran conspiracy-watcher whose obsessions include mind-control projects and secret cults amongst the elite -- and this tendency to indulge in, as Wm. Gibson would put it, "apophenia" is certainly likely to color his view of Google.

To my eye, his concerns display a kind of parochial paranoia: obviously, we're all aware of the uses and limitations of cookies, none of us want to see the cache (or the Wayback Machine [archive.org] ) go away, and his comments about Google's "monopoly" and the "[y]oung, stupid script kiddies" who "think Google is 'way kool'" are just inexplicable.

Telling, I think, is his concern about Google having a former NSA developer on staff -- I've worked with a fairly large number of former spooks from the NSA, CIA and civilian contractors, and to suggest that having the NSA on your resume makes you some kind of Coder in Black is absurd. But, of course, YMMV.

Didn't we already cover this? (1)

schon (31600) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325867)

Wasn't this already covered in this article [slashdot.org] ?

Seems to me that Mr. Brandt is a whining crybaby. The main thrust of his argument (which is why it's so easily countered) is that he constantly compares Google to a public utility. (Which is absurd - see my response to him here [slashdot.org] )

Mr Brandt is (at best) naieve, and (at worst) a troll. Until he comes up with a more logical argument, don't give him any consideration.

intresting (1)

CakerX (149266) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325868)

8. Google is not your friend:
Young, stupid script kiddies and many bloggers still think Google is "way kool," so by now Google enjoys a 75 percent monopoly for all external referrals to most websites. No webmaster can avoid seeking Google's approval these days, assuming he wants to increase traffic to his site. If he tries to take advantage of some of the known weaknesses in Google's semi-secret algorithms, he may find himself penalized by Google, and his traffic disappears. There are no detailed, published standards issued by Google, and there is no appeal process for penalized sites. Google is completely unaccountable. Most of the time they don't even answer email from webmasters.


exploit the system, YOU GET BURNED!!!!

I hate websites that thing the only thing that matters is how well they can exploit search engines and care little about content.

You abuse it, you loose it.

Stuff like this makes me angry (1)

broothal (186066) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325869)

I thought conspiracy theories were left behind in the 80's along with Limahl and Ted Danson. But I see they're still breathing, and even making slashdot news.

I don't know if anyone but the kooks at google-watch takes stuff like this serious, but it still makes me angry. A cookie... uuuh - now there's some scary echelon big brother shit. A COOKIE for gods sake. C'mon - I've seen better kooks on usenet.

Nuts (2, Insightful)

nesneros (214571) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325874)

Wasn't this the same guy who complained because a search for "Richard Nixon" didn't bring you anywhere near his namebase.org website? Some people just like to be contrarian for the sake of being contrarian.

Retaining data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5325890)

Thats why reason why I use google. I can find stuff on cache that has gone away. Its nice to be able to reference things from a long time ago. I mean legacy information should still be supported as the internet grows.

The author is obviously an idiot.. (2, Insightful)

MoceanWorker (232487) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325891)

2. Google records everything they can:
For all searches they record the cookie ID, your Internet IP address, the time and date, your search terms, and your browser configuration. Increasingly, Google is customizing results based on your IP number. This is referred to in the industry as "IP delivery based on geolocation."


Umm.. yeah, dumbass.. I can do the same by accessing my Apache logs and further more have a script that would tell me where in the world you're accessing my page from.. please get a clue.. then complain.. tks

Spooks (3, Interesting)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325892)

If the government had spooks working at google as spooks, do you think that they would have traces of ever being a government employee in their history? Unless, they would know that a spook would not have a government employment history in their backround, so they would put government employment that in their history. Unless,..... this gives me a headache, forget it.

My one strike rule (2, Insightful)

antiframe (651356) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325900)

"Their privacy policy confesses this, but that's only because Alexa lost a class-action lawsuit when their toolbar did the same thing, and their privacy policy failed to explain this."

When reading something like this, I look for that one unsupported claim or flaw in logic that allows me to throw the entire theory out and never worry about it again. So, I suppose it's left as an exercise for the reader to determine exactly why they chose to honesty in their privacy policy because of the Alexa debacle and not because of something like, say, that they have no ulterior motive?

bogus complaints (5, Informative)

Willy K. (19859) | more than 11 years ago | (#5325901)

These "complaints" are totally bogus paranoia in my opinion.

Let's take them one-by-one:

1. Google's immortal cookie : they were the first to do this. Doesn't that make them a trend-setter? I don't even see why this is bad. All sites are doing it now, because they realized it makes sense. Users hate to be burdened with preferences and new cookies all the time. As the Ronco TV-oven ad says : "Set it, and forget it".

2. Google records everything they can : So do all companies. Data is their business. They would be crippling themselves *not* to save all the data. It's how they improve their searches, with, for example, geolocation-based delivery. Isn't it great that most of your search results are in your home language?! That's what they can do by gathering info.

3. Google retains all data indefinitely : Good for them! Most companies can't afford to do this, but clearly Google has thin enough data and big enough RAID arrays that they can. I'm sure they'll put in place a "data retention" policy if they ever need to, but it sounds like they are scaling just fine with the price of storage dropping, and the rate they are growing. I mean, seriously, this argument hardly presents a good reason to throw data away. Because "uh, it's bad for big brother and good for us to have data thrown away"? Gimme a break.

4. Google won't say why they need this data : Pleading the 5th doesn't make a man guilty, as much as paranoids would like you to think. You know they use it at least for two things: IP-based geolocation information, and tracking their own usage levels, so they can better scale their server farms, and purchase only the appropriate bandwidth, so they don't waste money. That's called "being a prudent business".

5. Google hires spooks : Of course they want people with security clearance! All companies that are trying to be a player in the government sector need employees with security clearance, because the government is a tough customer. You can't blame Google for wanting government contracts. They represent long-term big-money. That's what every company (especially these days) is striving for. If they hire former "spooks" (the word-choice even betrays these guys as ultra-paranoid), that's a quick way to get on the government's good-side.

6. Google's toolbar is spyware : don't you think they know that if they ever do anything bad, hax0rs will be all up in their face revealing their scandal? Google prides itself on a clean user-experience. If they don't prompt you for updates, it's because they don't want to bother you. I agree, it might be nice to have a checkbox option somewhere for those curious-types to enable a "notification-of-new-version" feature, however.

7. Google's cache copy is illegal : if search-engines were "opt-in" for webmasters, we wouldn't have any search-engines. I mean, seriously, are these people's suggestions for real, or is this a hoax?! Also, I expect (although don't know for sure) that Google is quite good about responding to requests for purging cached content. I'll bet when those webmasters call up Google and say "please clear all records of this page", Google probably responds. If not, they should.

8. Google is not your friend : Look, I'm not "young, stupid script kiddie", that's for sure. But I don't understand why Google has to be "accountable". Or penalized for having become the internet's ubiquitous search-engine. They provide the best results over-all. If people try to abuse the "semi-secret" algorithm, then they *should* get knocked back down in the rankings. This isn't a battle between search-engines and webmasters for Google. It's about providing the best results, so they can continue to drum up business. When are you people going to realize that success doesn't *always* corrupt?

9. Google is a privacy time-bomb : I don't even understand this one. Sounds like an ad for Google to me, rather than a rebuke.

-Will

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