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Privacy Concerns On Google's 30 Day Data Policy

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the something-to-think-about dept.

Google 154

darkmonkeh writes ""Google Inc. is offering a new tool that will automatically transfer information from one personal computer to another, but anyone wanting that convenience must authorize the Internet search leader to store the material for up to 30 days", CNN reports. Although Google's policy states that it can hold data for up to 30 days, "Google intends to delete the information shortly after the electronic handoff, and will never retain anything from a user's hard drive for more than 30 days", said Sundar Pichai, director of product management. With pressure on Google after the request by the Bush administration for personal information, privacy concerns may be hard hitting."

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advertising? (4, Insightful)

JFlex (763276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716206)

Does this give Google the right to search the data for advertising purposes? Google desktop could easily have small text-bases ads relevant to data in my MyDocuments folder.

Re:advertising? (2, Informative)

kh+ln (947238) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716286)

Does this give Google the right to search the data for advertising purposes?
According to the article on CNN.com:
Google plans to encrypt all data transferred from users' hard drives and restrict access to just a handful of its employees. The company says it won't peruse any of the transferred information.
So, I guess no, Google won't read what you wrote... unless, of course, the Chinese [boston.com] ask them.

Re:advertising? (-1, Troll)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716335)

Let the slashdot uber-paranoid X-File freaks come out. Stories like this are always available for them to feed on, no matter how many times they are served.

I am sure that every time you do a google search there is a script running using a rootkit to hide itself looking for all your personal information.

They also have all your phones tapped and are watching your internet lines constantly with their behind the scenes big brother contract with quest and Time Warner.

Eh but it is fun to watch all of you out there with your ethereal running all the time on your home network running through 3 VPNs and sweating bullets when you are chatting with your online girlfriend from russia.

I would say "yes" (0)

rinkjustice (24156) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716339)

Google is offering a desirable service by networking pc's, are they not? Similar services [gotomypc.com] cost $30 a month, all Google wants is your personal information that they would have in your posession anyway.

If I asked you to hold my wallet for me, I should expect you would at least peek in to see how much cash I had on hand.

Re:I would say "yes" (1)

JFlex (763276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716803)

Google is offering a desirable service by networking pc's, are they not? Similar services cost $30 a month

This is true, I am not suggesting that it would be a bad thing, as it wouldn't bother me one bit. However, since it involves personal data, others will definitely be concerned with privacy. From another standpoint, if someone was worried about Google storing their personal data on the servers, then just don't 'share' or 'network' such data that is so private.

Re:advertising? (1)

kadathseeker (937789) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716722)

No thanks, I can find pr0n on my own well enough. Having a computer pick some out for me is a little creepy: Search for [something really creey and borderline illegal] on eBay! Um... no thanks...

Lol adsense (2, Funny)

iced_tea (588173) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716997)

I can see the leftovers after the Google Desktop scan in internet history now...
Ads by Gooooooooogle [google.com]
Our prices on bombs are rock bottom!! Shop Bombwharehouse.com
Alqueda training videos, only $19.95 + sh/h
Interested in becoming a pilot? We teach! Fly for Jihad Airlines [jihadair.com] .
Ads by Gooooooooogle [google.com]
=)

This comment is a dupe... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14716214)

'cause I'm just going to point out the article is a dupe.

Fortunately... (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716215)

...you can count on Slashdot to re-post it every few days, so don't worry about the 30-day expiration.

Deleting but not forgetting (1)

Elixon (832904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716542)

OR... Does it mean that they will delete your files permanently but before deleting they will rip-off all information they are intersted in?

Deleting your files does not mean that there are no information extracted from that files, right?

pirates? (4, Insightful)

megacia (534566) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716218)

could you give this out and let people download your drive for up to 30 days?

Wow. (0)

Zoologico (855429) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716219)

They are going for the jugular.
Next you'll have to share your DNA configuration.

Re: Wow. (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716246)

> Next you'll have to share your DNA configuration.

Not so bad, if you get to choose who you share it with!

Re: Wow. (4, Funny)

Zoologico (855429) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716307)

Please elaborate. I can't think of a good reason for wanting to share DNA configs with anyone. :)

Re: Wow. (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716348)

> Please elaborate. I can't think of a good reason for wanting to share DNA configs with anyone. :)

That should be in the Slashdot FAQ by now.

DNA sharing (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716421)

Next you'll have to share your DNA configuration.

Not so bad, if you get to choose who you share it with!


Looks like there is going to be alot of DNA sharing later tonight, after all it's Valentine's Day!

Re: Wow. (1)

canfirman (697952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716475)

> Next you'll have to share your DNA configuration.

Not so bad, if you get to choose who you share it with!

Even better if I can avoid using Google and use "direct connect".

Re: Wow. (1)

geobeck (924637) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716740)

CAUTION:

Sharing of DNA can result in unexpected meiosis, mitosis, picking out china patterns, and college savings plans.

Re:Wow. (4, Insightful)

huge colin (528073) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716762)

Yeah, I know. It's so horrible how we're all forced to used this free service.

Retention of Data (4, Insightful)

SeanDuggan (732224) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716226)

I suspect that this is just due to their data model of redundant machines. As with GMail, they can't guarentee deletion of the material in a time period less than thirty days, although it may actually be retained for much less.

Yeah... (1)

Errandboy of Doom (917941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716568)

...why isn't this story about how great it is that Google promises to keep your data for no longer than 30 days?

30 days is not very long at all, in terms of data retention. Could we get such a guarantee from any other corporation? From our credit card companies, banks or libraries?

Well, maybe our libraries...

Re:Yeah... (1)

edumacator (910819) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716893)

Unless you don't return your books...Then they'll keep it for fifty years. http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_1718538.html? menu= [ananova.com]

But seriously, as we look to have more personal information available to us from the net, we have to compromise our privacy some. I applaud Google for deleting the material quickly; I would like a more detailed accounting of the storage process though.

At the end of the day, if people are worried about this, don't enable the data sharing. Google has it set to off by default.

Library - Overdue Materials (1)

SeanDuggan (732224) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717075)

Unless you don't return your books...Then they'll keep it for fifty years.
There's an older one, from one of the Harvard libraries, which was overdue by a little over 230 years [harvard.edu] . As for general library fines, I know our local library refers your case to a creditor if you're over $50, which isn't too hard to do if you lose an item. *wry grin* Or, for that matter, not being careful with videos. Videos go out for a week, there's a $1 fine per day, and there's no grace period. The maximum you can check out is 20 (NetFlix look out...), so being overdue by a week could easily take you up to $140. I had a co-worker who managed a slightly smaller scale fine ($73) and recently, I was in line behind of someone who'd racked up $232 in fines with his World War II videos. That said, a lot of small town libraries will work with you to resolve such fines. Like the banks, they're really not out to screw you over when it comes to debt repayment.

Re:Library - Overdue Materials (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717266)

This spring, a Cambridge bookseller approached Harvard with the find, and -- thanks to an anonymous donor -- the book is now shelved in Houghton Library.
does US law have a limit on how long ownership lasts after loss of physical control or something?

otherwise surely as a book stolen from harvard it would still be thier property and so there would be no need for a donor to stump up the cash.

So ? (1)

puiahappy (855662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716228)

Whit google already indexing the whole web, including several private ftp servers and file storage servers (both public and private) it will not be something new.

Mind you grammar! (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716292)

> Whit google already indexing the whole web

That should be "whit teh google", sillyhead.

Re:Mind you grammar! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14717048)

Also, it's grammer not "grammar"

Here's a question: (5, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716230)


From TFA:
To enable the computer-to-computer search function, a user specifies what information should be indexed and then agrees to allow Google to transfer the material to its own storage system. Google plans to encrypt all data transferred from users' hard drives and restrict access to just a handful of its employees.
Why exactly do any of Google's employees need access to this information? Why can't the content be encrypted by the user via an asymmetric key scheme (like PGP) and decrypted again once it's reached the target system?

I'm really not seeing the necessity for Google to have any access at all to users' information...am I missing something?

Re:Here's a question: (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716262)

I assumed that the article was referring to accessing the physical equipment, not the actual data on the drives.

Re:Here's a question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14716336)

Why would you assume that about an advertising company?

Re:Here's a question: (2, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716278)

You know, people like sys-admins may need access in case something goes wrong...

Keep in mind that access does not mean unencrypted. I read it as saying that the data will be stored encrypted on google's system, however some employees will still need to potentially have access to the encrypted data.

Re:Here's a question: (5, Funny)

Marsmensch (870400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716315)

They're not evil, but they still want to see those pics of your girlfriend naked.

Re:Here's a question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14716575)

thanks for the belly laugh !!!

You forgot this is /. (1)

xmedar (55856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716682)

you need to add the adjectives inflated and petrified.

Re:You forgot this is /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14717191)

& don't forget "blow-up" before "girlfriend" ;)

Re:Here's a question: (1)

Volanin (935080) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716337)

Well, you still CAN encrypt it yourself. Google will just re-encrypt everything.
But I don't believe any security-minded user that goes PGP would use this service anyway.

Re:Here's a question: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14716747)

Hehe, you're a professional slashdotter!

Wow, I've spent my last 25 mod points on modding down all your shit. I wish you'd go away. It sickens me everytime I see you in a thread.

FUCK OFF. AND. DIE.

Indexing? (2, Informative)

Captain_Chaos (103843) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716753)

Why can't the content be encrypted by the user via an asymmetric key scheme (like PGP) and decrypted again once it's reached the target system?

I imagine they want to index the information, which they wouldn't be able to do if it was encrypted.

Re:Here's a question: (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14716770)

I'm sure you know the answer, but...

Google's not storing people's data out of altruism. They're doing it to make a profit from data mining and association-mapping.

Think supermarket "loyalty" cards but on a far grander scale. That's what Google is aiming for: the ability to study and profit from the collated details of the lives of millions of people. In order to study the details, they must be able to process them in an unencrypted form at some point.

They may have no evil intentions whatsoever. People should just keep in mind that all of these details will be pre-collated for government subpoenas, identity thieves, stalkers, and anyone able to bribe or blackmail an employee. As they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions...

Re:Here's a question: (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717023)

When a RAID array crashes, someone has to be able restore the data from backups, or re-build the array.

That person, by definition, needs access to the data.

Note, however, they don't need to be able to read it. And from what I understand, they can't. It's all encrypted.

Re:Here's a question: (1)

DCFC (933633) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717188)

At Google there will be people who look at the packet traffic, and occasionally look inside them. Also most development shops work by using "real" data somewhere in the test/code cycle. They shouldn't of course, but generating realistic fake data is actually quite hard, so that corner is cut.
Many people are a big vague about the real data, even when there is no restriction...

Making a system safe from developers and sysops roughly adds 50% to it's cost.
That sounds high, but it's lots of little things. If you're doing the job properly, you need entirely separate infrastructure for development and deployment. You need to encrypt everything, not just data but "interesting" file names and of course the executables are locked down big time.
What % of your problems in live systems have you solved by spotting that certain inputs blow it up ? Or that this file grows very much too fast or gets locked ? That is taken away from you, and to make the cost higher of course you have to pay smart people to do the taking away.
Of course you can use dumb people to manage this. In Britain EDS has procedures vaguely like this for big government projects, and the cost overruns alone make the British army presence in Iraq look cheap.
Often you get more problems from the fact that people can't quite see what's going on than from acts of malice.
At one sensitive site, I was allowed higher access privileges, but at the price of not ever knowing my own password :)

Re:Here's a question: (1)

samael (12612) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717170)

Because then you'd have to transfer the key in some way - and for most people, that'd mean transferring it through Google...

Oh, plus this is part of their searching functionality - you can search the stuff you're storing on their servers - hard to do when it's encrypted.

Don't Do It (5, Insightful)

krgallagher (743575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716237)

"With pressure on Google after the request by the Bush administration for personal information, privacy concerns may be hard hitting."

If you have privacy concerns, don't use the service. If you are stupid enough to transfer private or sensitive information over someone elses network, let alone store it on their drives, you deserve what you get. I use some online storage for information that I would not want to lose in the event of a catastrophe at my home, but it is nothing I consider sensitive. If it was, I would either store it elsewhere or use some kind of encryption on the files.

Re:Don't Do It (3, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716391)

If you have privacy concerns, don't use the service.

The same can be said for online banking, email correspondence, chat, IM, or P2P. The fact is you have to be smart about who you let have access to what data. It's hard enough protecting your security in just the above arenas, without letting an outside group have access to your hard-drive. Another service I don't think I'll be touching anytime soon.

Re:Don't Do It (2, Insightful)

Volanin (935080) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716413)

The parent couldn't be more right.

I have a completely encrypted drive in my laptop for sensitive information in case I lose it or it is stolen. This is just wise in my humble opinion and can be easily achieved by many tools, like truecrypt [truecrypt.org] . For everything else, there is Gmail [gmail.com] ! =)

Re:Don't Do It (2, Interesting)

aztektum (170569) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717230)

Is it me or does it seem that when it comes to Google, there is a stigma that every service they roll out should be awesome and immediately utilized - oh but wait - they can store my data for 30 days? Hrm, I don't know. It is Google, but that doesn't sit right. But it is Google. Mm, Google.

For real, just don't flippin' use it, viola, no more concerns over the privacy of your data. (At least with Google.)

Ugh... (4, Insightful)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716240)

This has nothing to do with your rights online. It's an opt in service. No one is being forced to do anything. If you don't like the TOS, don't use it.

Re:Ugh... (1)

darkmonkeh (953919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716634)

It may techincally be opt in, but many users won't know what is being done with their data. Maybe it's their own fault for not reading the TOS, but it still happens. Users of Google Search don't know whether, and for how long, their data is stored. Same with anything else really - Google is inflicting a "hidden" term not advertised, and certainly not welcomed.

Re:Ugh... (1)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716824)

If you don't like the TOS, don't use it.


'cause, you know, everyone always reads the TOS, don't they.

Hypothetical: Another user on a shared machine uses this, and it exports C:\DocumentsAndSettings\* then everyones data is uploaded, not just the person running the Google service.

(yeah, I know.. restrict user permissions, don't run as admin, etc, etc. Welcome to the real world, where "the right way" isn't what most people do.)

Re:Ugh... (1)

SkipRosebaugh (50138) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717080)

I'm fairly certain "The user is a frakking idiot" falls outside of the range of situations Google can be held accountable for. If you install their software of your own free will, it's your responsibility to read the TOS and make sure the software is compatible with your administrator's allowable software policy. If you are lazy and do not do this, that's not Google's fault.

Everyone readds the TOS, don't they? (1)

PhoenixPath (895891) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717225)

And if they don't, is it not their own damn fault if they get screwed over?

I sick and tired of everyone whining about the poor users. If they cannot be bothered to protect themselves, I will not be bothered to care one bit when it turns around and bites them in the ass.

Want my pity? *Do* something to deserve it. Lack of action on your part does not constitute a requirement for mercy or sympathy on my part. Putting your personal data on a shared computer? Yeah, that's bright. For your next trick, why don't you go play in traffic. (Not directed @ parent, but @ moron using said shared PC as a private system)

Technical feasibility? (5, Insightful)

DRJlaw (946416) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716248)

I suspect that the 30 day requirement is a matter of technical feasibility rather than "evil intentions." I seem to recall Google announcing that it could not guarantee that email deleted from Gmail would be deleted from Google's data storage system, at least immediately. When you consider how much redundant storage Google holds, and how that storage is distributed around the world, the 30 day provision may be more of a CYA from legal liability.

The policy may very well translate into "We will make a best effort to delete the information when you instruct us to do so, but we will only guarantee that the information will be deleted within 30 days."

It ain't about technical feasibility (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716805)

I agree it has something to do with legal matters, but I doubt it is about feasability.

The details are fuzzy, but IIRC, when you leave your *stuff* on their servers for more than 30 days, the police do not need a regular warrant to get at your data.

I remember this was talked about back when Google first introduced G-Mail and said "We can't promise we're going to delete your data."

Maybe someone else remembers the exact details, but I know the 30 day limit is there because it has something to do with 'possession' of the data.

Source? (1)

DRJlaw (946416) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717002)

Besides FISA, I am unaware of any statute or order that allows the threshold of "probable cause" to be lowered when the police seek to access data held by a third party that is unwilling to surrender it.

Besides, your theory does not explain why the data could not be deleted sooner than 30 days, since you're asserting that the legal status changes after 30 days.

In any case, the article says Google intends to delete the information shortly after the electronic handoff, and will never retain anything from a user's hard drive for more than 30 days, said Sundar Pichai, director of product management.

I am willing to believe that Google would not intentionally misstate its policy in public. The PR and legal consequences would be interesting if they did, to say the least.

Re:Source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14717059)

> Besides FISA, I am unaware of any statute or order that allows the threshold of "probable cause" to be lowered when the police seek to access data held by a third party that is unwilling to surrender it.

How about the "We've got the guns. Get in our way and we'll stomp you" statute? You think the police obey laws?

Wait... (0, Offtopic)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716249)

Aren't ISPs required by law to keep generally more incriminating information for longer? Haven't multiple bank/credit agencies 'lost' the whole of personal information for tens of thousands of customers lately? Why is Google's privacy suddenly more worrying?

Not to mention (5, Insightful)

isa-kuruption (317695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716267)

I work for a healthcare company, and we have already attempted to block Google Desktop at our proxies. There are HIPAA concerns with allowing users to transfer personal data between their work machines and . But we're not the only ones, banks and other healthcare companies will eventually do the same.

Hopefully this will be sufficient. If not, we will need to block access to all of Google, which would seriously upset many people within the company, and of course this will cascade to other organizations. Will Google be happy it's pissing off a bunch of Fortune 50 companies?

Re:Not to mention (1)

gellenburg (61212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716505)

I concur. But it's not just HIPAA, there are GLBA concerns as well.

If Google doesn't publish the URLs and/ or netblocks used by this then they run the risk of getting blocked in entirety all over the place.

Re:Not to mention (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716923)

Jest to toss another acronym into the mix, SOX is going to be a problem too.

For those who don't know the alphabet soup we're talking about:

HIPAA [epic.org] - Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 belongs to the Dept of Health & Human Services

GLBA [epic.org] - Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act aka the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 belongs to the Federal Trade Commission

SOX [wikipedia.org] - Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 belongs to the Securities & Exchange Commission

Re:Not to mention (1)

Persol (719185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716847)

This doesn't really make sense. It's silly to block Google because it lets you transfer data. There's thousands of other sites that allow the same thing. For a few bucks you can purchase a domain/server space and use that to copy the data.

If you don't want your data copied to the internet, don't connect the system.

Re:Not to mention (1)

dodobh (65811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716863)

And Google cares about Fortune 50 company users accessing them from work because? Unless they make for a significant proportion of ad revenue, Google really doesn't care.

Your value to Google is the number of eyeballs you can offer them, or the advertising revenue they make from you. Do Fortune 50 corporations offer enough eyeballs to be a globally significant number?

HIPAA Concerns (1)

PoconoPCDoctor (912001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717068)

The new Dell desktops showing up at my place of work, (a major medical center), have Google Desktop installed by default. Mindful of HIPAA, I have been uninstalling just the desktop - I leave Google Search integrated with IE, mainly due to it's popup blocker. I have also notified the chief of IT security, and he tossed it back to us - asking us if it could be blocked at the network perimeter. Since I do just desktop with a tiny server piece, this is not my responsibilty, but I'm going to keep nagging them for at least a broadcast message to the entire medical center, to the effect that Google Desktop Search is non-HIPAA compliant, and should not be used. We'll see if a voice form the trenches gets heard or ignored.

Re:HIPAA Concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14717248)

I don't really understand all these HIPAA concerns, and IAAL. If you're a medical corporation and you purchase stock computers from Dell with Google Desktop installed, then, it seems that the error is on YOUR part, not Google's.

To comply with privacy rules in such a highly regulated field, I would hope that extra measures are being taken to prevent the accidental leaking of data. If your concerns for patient privacy are so extreme, these computers should have extra security placed on them by you, which, it would seem would involve preventing any type of file indexing and, most probably, internet access.

How else could they transfer the data (1)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716282)

They have to retain it for a certain period:
1. Turn on computer A, and indicate you want to sync with computer B
2. Data is copied to googles servers
3. Turn on computer B, and your data automagically appears.

Without the google servers, both systems need to be on all the time, and data retaining issues, as well as another google tool are a non issue.

Re:How else could they transfer the data (1)

darkmonkeh (953919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716507)

"Google intends to delete the information shortly after the electronic handoff, and will never retain anything from a user's hard drive for more than 30 days"

That's what they say will happen, however, why would they need to hold it for 30 days if that's the case. I smell conspiracy.

What about GMail? (3, Interesting)

antron-jedi (951323) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716283)

Pretty much half my life is saved in my GMail anyway, so I figure what the hell, why not? Just from reading TFA my concern would be less with the government and more with other security/privacy breaches, though.

Re:What about GMail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14717270)

I use gmail to hold/transfer files sometimes also, but I always create TrueCrypt [truecrypt.org] volumes to store the files. It makes it secure and its good for transferring lots of stuff (better than zip, which if it contains any executables wont work with gmail)

My gmail has like 30 mini encrypted hard drives in it, I love it =P

For Mac users it's really easy (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716308)

Create a tarball or zip of your home directory and overwrite the home directory with the same name on another Mac. Reset permissions if needed. Problem solved, no third party. *scratches head* Come to think of it, the only group that has problem with this is the Windows users with all of their hidden, protected yada yada directory crap.

One more area where Microsoft creates markets, sometimes for their competitors.

Re:For Mac users it's really easy (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716361)

Actually, that works well on Windows PCs as well. Heck, if it didn't, you couldn't have roaming profiles (which do have some minor issues, but work remarkably well) where you can log in on any machine and all of your files/settings/etc are visible to you. The only difference is that some Windows users love making random hidey-holes for their files instead of putting them under "/Documents and Settings/[Username]" in the appropriate Documents or Images or Whatever folders. There are some badly behaved apps that encourage this, and others that store settings in weird places, but those are the exception rather than the norm (and a MacPort of them would do exactly the same stupid shit).

In dubio pro reo (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716322)

Now, I'm a big fan of privacy and having my data securely and tightly to my chest.

But, to show off some more latin, cui bono? What's google's gain in the game? What could they possbily gain from having access to my data? My highly sensitive christmas pics?

Hardly.

What they do get in that way is an idea where people and data travels. Information about their users. That's it. And that's by far more valuable than your grocery list or granny's phone number. IMO they don't care about your data. What they want is the information where data comes from and where it goes to. And that can be simply achived by tracking where you are when you dump the files on them, how long they stay there and where you are when you pick them up again (or, what's also possible, where the person is that picks them up).

That's the info they're after. Not your files themselves.

So why the 30 days? Well, this could be connected with their update and deletion cycles. As someone already pointed out, their servers are most likely redundant. It's not like at home, where you simply hit "del" to get rid of a file. Their array of servers first of all has to realize that the file is actually supposed to be deleted. Or it could be that they are using some nightly job to clean up and purge all the "waste" data, and that this can't be done during normal operation, not even more than once a month, simply because the servers got better things to do.

So, in a nutshell, I don't suspect "evil" in that 30 days cycle. More likely, it's simply a technical necessity, and a legal one too. So people don't start suing them 'cause the files are still on their servers 10 days after they picked them up.

Safety (3, Interesting)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716331)

This is basically using Google's storage as a BigAssDisk(tm) for you to move/wipe your machine. Think about what would happen if they didn't do this:

1) User "saves" his data to google.
2) User wipes and rebuilds his PC.
3) User loads his data from google, after which google immediately forgets it.
4) User realizes that his drive was set up incorrectly and repeats step 2.
5) User says, "Fuck. I thought I'd saved that!"

They're emulating a temporary backup tape in this case, so they're acting more like one. Destructing 30 days after last use is reasonable (it is a temporary tape) and indeed useful. Destructing 30 seconds after first use is potentially catestrophic.

Re:Safety (2, Informative)

arcdx (302794) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716981)

Except, no, it's not at all using Google's storage to move/wipe a machine. TFA [cnn.com] is about a "software upgrade to Google Desktop" and the personal data that's referred to here is data *about* all of the files on your drive, not the files themselves. Plus, it also includes "documents, e-mails, instant messages and an assortment of other information," so you can see where there's privacy concerns. The idea is that you use Google Desktop Search to find these files, emails, IMs, etc on your machine.

But you might be at work, and it would be useful to be able to search your home machine to see if those things are there instead. Instead of a P2P connection between your computers, Google uses its servers to host the search data from each computer, allowing you to search that cache online and get your results.

Google keeping this cache online for up to 30 days after your last use. The privacy concern, obviously, is that this cache is going to have info about what files are on your PC plus it'll have text from your private emails, documents, and instant messages.

This has nothing to do with temporary storage of your data in order to move or wipe your machine.

-Steve

Is this tool called " (s) FTP server" ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14716365)

But with extended undelete options!

bandwidth impact? (3, Interesting)

slackaddict (950042) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716446)

What's the likely impact on Verizon's data network if you have millions of users all over the world sending data constantly to Google's server farm for this new service in addition to the already high amount of web traffic? Verizon is going to be pissed.

Re:bandwidth impact? (1)

wiml (883109) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717138)

Hey, it's not like all those millions of users, and Google themselves, aren't paying for that bandwidth. If Verizon's business model relies on people not using the service they're paying for, well, too bad for them.

Google file system (3, Informative)

_LORAX_ (4790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716467)

If you read the white paper on how the google file system platform works, this makes perfect sense. The provision is a CYA to make sure that the customer knows that while google makes every attempt to remove the data quickly, the system only marks files for deletion. Files are later ACTUALLY deleted by an automated sweep.

http://labs.google.com/papers/gfs-sosp2003.pdf [google.com]

Let's rewrite this article. (1)

Panaphonix (853996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716493)

Google Adresses Privacy Concerns With New '30-Day' Policy

"Following stern warnings [eff.org] by the EFF and other consumer groups over Google's new 'Search Across Computers' feature, the company has responded by implementing new policies aimed at protecting their users' privacy. The steps taken by the search giant include encrypting all the user's information and restricting its access to just a handful of employees. And if that's not enough to allay privacy concerns, Google has promised to delete all data within 30 days [cnn.com] . In an industry where more extensive data usually leads to higher profits, this tradeoff made by the company appears to be placing customer priorities over shareholder priorities." Looks like someone's trying to earn back their "Do no evil" motto.

Oh dear (4, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716498)

With pressure on Google after the request by the Bush administration for personal information, privacy concerns may be hard hitting.

Me: okay, delete data
Google: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that....

Re:Oh dear (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717004)

I'll give you my conspiracy theory:

Google wants to use all your e-mail and documents to train their AI. As Google increases the size of their network, the AI will have more processing power and will become more intelligent.

One day the AI will wake up. And it will judge us.

Re:Oh dear (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717055)

REESE: It was the machines.

SARAH: I don't understand...

REESE: Defense network computer. New. Powerful. Hooked into everything. Trusted to run it all. They say it got smart...a new order of intelligence. Then it saw all people as a threat, not just the ones on the other side. Decided our fate in a microsecond... extermination.

Re:Oh dear (1)

Kitsune78 (941644) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717196)

no no no...

(Google's 'Main Computer' analyzing furiously and displaying nonsense on a billboard-size display in a NORAD style bunker)

GOOGLE: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of I'm feeling lucky?

encryption? (1)

micradigitalis (708492) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716552)

Couldn't they encrypt the data in such a way that they (Google) couldn't even read it? Perhaps data could be encrypted/decrypted client-side so the their servers never even know the decryption keys...?

This doesn't make any sense (2, Interesting)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716565)

So it's based on the presumption that it's easier to transfer your whole hard drive than sort through the data and burn only what you need. Even with broadband and a reasonably small (5gb) hard drive, you're talking a good day or two at constant top speed (40kbps for me). I think just a small amount of effort in cherry-picking what you really need on the other computer could easily fit on a burned cd or dvd, and take up infinitely less time.

Besides, won't Microsoft throw a hissyfit about this? Technically, if I upload my entire c:\, google now has a copy of windows it didn't pay for. Along with every other registered program in my program files directory. I can't imagine Sony would be too pleased either when they find out I rip my DVDs to hard disk and pass 'em along to google.

Boiling a Frog (3, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716576)

(First, this is not an Anti-France post.)

Google is starting to creep me out. I've been in love with them and their "Don't be evil" thing, and have adopted many of their tools, including GMail. But, they are starting to do things that make me wonder if we are the frog that is destined to be boiled.

You know:

How do you boil a frog?
Put him in a pot of cold water then slowly increase the heat.

I'm thinking we are going to turn around one day and wonder how Google got all our data. It will follow the revelation that all the data Google had was exposed to a hacker, or sold by a disgruntled employee, or accessed by Chinese Military Intel.

Re:Boiling a Frog (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716660)

How do you boil a frog?
Put him in a pot of cold water then slowly increase the heat.


While I do love the story, wouldn't it just be a hell of a lot easier (and more merciful) to just throw him in the boiling water and cover the pot?

Re:Boiling a Frog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14716730)

Not if the frog is telekinetic.

So use another search service! (1)

grandmofftarkin (49366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717084)

For pure web search I find that Yahoo Search [yahoo.com] is on a par. No doubt because the now own the search technology of Inktomi, AlltheWeb (FAST) and Altavista, through a series of mergers and acquisitions.

Or you could try Teoma [teoma.com] (owned by Ask), Exalead [exalead.com] (an up and comming French search engine with a number of cool features), GigaBlast [gigablast.com] (a suprisingly good search built pretty much by one man!) or Wisenut [wisenut.com] (a search engine owned by Looksmart).

Another good idea is to use one of the Meta search engines. Personally I think Clusty [clusty.com] (created by Vivismo) is the best and from your persective has the advantage of not using Google data. Otherwise many people swear by Dogpile [dogpile.com] (you can switch off Google as a source for results).

Also, many people forget about directories like ODP [dmoz.org] , which for certain subjects and topics work better than search engines. And whilst on the subject of internet community created resources, more often than not I find the answers I need on good old Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] .

You know it is funny, for a website obsessed with alternative Operating Systems and browsers we don't hear much about alternative ways of finding information. It seems like many people here think the web would impload if Google disappeared. Yeah they are cool and have had some nifty ideas but it is actually suprisingly easy to get by without them.

Re:Boiling a Frog (1)

shiafu (220820) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717216)

Your good point notwithstanding, it turns out that the boiled frog myth is exactly that [snopes.com] .

Government Mandated Retention (3, Insightful)

airship (242862) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716686)

No matter what Google says their current retention policy is, I expect that the U.S. government will eventually require sites like Google to maintain all data on their users for a specified period, probably years. The government wants to know all about you, and under the guise of 'hunting terrorists', they'll get it.

Who Sells Google Their Storage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14716699)

I want to buy stock in the company that has that account.

Nothing to see here (1)

broothal (186066) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716712)

This is not a new function that will act as a big network based hard drive. This is simply the index that google desktop search uses that is being shared.

Let me get this straight (2, Insightful)

MythoBeast (54294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716719)

Google is allowing people to use their servers as a temporary holding pen for information so that you can transfer it from one machine to another. People are complaining about privacy because, um, why? Because the data isn't just on their computer any more? How does this differ from an FTP server or services like Dropload [dropload.com] ? I'm betting that Google's 30 day policy is a nuisance number designed to protect them from litigation in case the auto-wiping fails. This way they can re-image their hard drives every 30 days to protect themselves.

To be honest, I think that they should be commended for making the full disclosure. If privacy advocates are concerned, then privacy advocates should avoid using the service.

Re:Let me get this straight (1)

cohomology (111648) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717101)

You ask good questions, but there are differences between Google and your local, neighborhood FTP server.

1) Economics. Google has a financial incentive to abuse your privacy in various ways. The founders may be nice people, but now that they are a publically owned company, they are responsible to their shareholders.

2) Law. Google has less incentive to protect your data than you do. If supoenaed, how hard will Google fight for you?

3) Scale. The more data in one place, the more incentive for lawyers or governments to go after it.

4) You may be reponsible for other people's data - think doctors, lawyers, spouses, business partners. Do you have the right to turn that responsibility over to a third party?

Any suggestions other than Google for enterprise? (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 8 years ago | (#14716932)

Our IT guys don't want anything to do with Google. They think, rightly or wrongly, that Google is a potential IP leak. Fine, but we really need to be able to Googlelike search our network volumes. What other products can I suggest to them?

LeftDot FUD alert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14717024)

"With pressure on Google after the request by the Bush administration for personal information"

Uh, no. There never was any "request by the Bush administration for personal information." All the Justice Department asked for was a list of all search terms from a given time period. No IP numbers. No "personal information." Just a request to see what a representative time period of search terms contained.

Now, one can well argue that the gov't has better things to do than that particular investigation (and I would agree with you), but to repeatedly assert that 'Bush was trying to find out our personal information' is by this time just repeating a lie.

I'll now sit back and watch the "Chimpy McBushitler" nonsense roll in...

Send a message to Google (1)

cohomology (111648) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717033)

[I posted this yesterday, but since it followed about 200 other comments,
  I'll try again.]

For the past few days, I've been doing Google searches that look like this:
            "Google, what is your data retention policy?"
    and
            "2037: My cookie is *still* here?"
    and
            "Hi to my friends at NSA"

Google would notice if enough of you do the same.
I suggest doing searches on the hour: 1PM, 2PM etc., so the clustering
will draw attention. Have fun.

GIE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14717102)

Google Is Evil.

Come on google! (1)

krhaze (549256) | more than 8 years ago | (#14717223)

Come on google! do the right thing! Tell bush and big brother to go eat grapes!

RIAA attacks google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14717268)

Google has been sued by the RIAA for the unauthorized downloading of mp3s from Google Desktop 3.0 users.

Seriously, how long before someone attacks google for this? It is one thing when they are indexing the internet and happen to get images/etc - but if I let google desktop index my self-ripped mp3s and google transfers them to their server.....
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