Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Google to Anonymize Users' Search Data

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the poof-you're-gone dept.

Google 151

Google's official blog states they are on an effort to anonymize their search data after 18-24 months. After previously fighting turning over search data to the feds, it looks like they are striking another blow to the "think of the children" crowd. Any bets on whether MSN or Yahoo! will follow suit?

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

The real WTF is.. (1, Interesting)

b100dian (771163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360067)

..the "off the record" button, in the first place!

Re:The real WTF is.. (3, Insightful)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360139)

I never got why google needs to keep all that history without anonymizing it.

There is - as far as I can see - no rational argument that has to do with improving search results because you have them tied to individuals.

And yes, keeping tabs on half the globe is evil too...

Re:The real WTF is.. (2, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360163)

Not only that, but is the history of searches you made over 2 years ago relevant to your current searches performed today?

Re:The real WTF is.. (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360623)

Not only that, but is the history of searches you made over 2 years ago relevant to your current searches performed today?

      Studies have shown that 43% of all people who search for "Donkey Love" will buy our product within 3 years if they see our ads.

Re:The real WTF is.. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360999)

The only way to know for sure is to keep records of people's searches for 2 years :)

Bigger than just marketing. (2, Interesting)

MindKata (957167) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361637)

"Not only that, but is the history of searches you made over 2 years ago relevant to your current searches performed today"

It is to Google as they want to know more about you, so they can build up a clearer profile about you. Just because they (say they) are going to delete the data after 2 years, doesn't mean they will not use the data in that two years to build up a profile about what you like. Then they can still keep updating that profile over time while deleting data. So even once they delete the data after two years the profile will still persist (in an ever changing and growing form).

The whole Google "do no harm talk" sounds more like PR spin talk to cover up what their real intentions are ... its like the old saying, "Knowledge Is Power".

From a research point of view, Google is basically a vast data mining research company. They are forever looking for more new ways to do data mining.

So now imagine in say a few years from now, you could work out how to build up a profile of searches from a company instead of a person. Then you would be able to know what that company is interested in. Its also the logical extension of profiling individuals. But it would also be pure industrial espionage. But we are told, Google will do no harm, so its ok then. Imaging how valuable that data profiling would be to sell it to a competitor of that company.

I think in a few years from now, we will see countries starting to create their own search engines so all their research doesn't get feed though other countries search engines, which are basically gigantic information filtering and collection systems for what people (and companies) are interested in.

Re:The real WTF is.. (1)

dammy (131759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360251)

Let's see here, they are worried about turning data over to the US government but they have no qualms about getting on their knees to the Communist Chinese government? Am I ever glad I no longer spend my company's money on AdWords.

Dammy

Re:The real WTF is.. (1)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360531)

Individuals? You mean "BigFatMamma2002" or "BigBirdDork18m"?

Re:The real WTF is.. (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361075)

There's something called abuse. There are scripts that might use google to search terms like the name of a full of exploits gallery system in order to get a list of vulnerable pages, there are people who want to modiffy google trends results, there are actually lot of reasons to abuse web search, so I would have made a logger as well...

ADVERTIZING (2, Insightful)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361121)

it's all about the advertising. Google's knowlege of you lets them advertise to you more effectively.

Re:The real WTF is.. (1)

paulpach (798828) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361149)

This information is very valuable as an ad provider. Just do a little data mining [wikipedia.org] , and you will find stuff like "people who search for pregnancy cloth 5 years ago are more likely to click on child cloth ad today" and many other not so obvious relationships.

The only reason google is willing to throw this information away (and money with it) is because customers are concerned about their privacy.

Re:The real WTF is.. (1)

gratemyl (1074573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361219)

They keep it for purposes such as personalized search results and the like.

A.I. is also far more effective at linguistic analysis (which Google may wish to introduce in the future, if they haven't already) when relations between results are known, and can be mapped to one user.

The type of things a single user would search for are often limited to certain categories of knowledge and thus a linguistic analysis engine could determine query relations which would improve search results for future users.

Re:The real WTF is.. (1)

Chris whatever (980992) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361423)

Not if it helps to catch pedophiles.

Re:The real WTF is.. (1)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361571)

No, keeping tabs on half (or even all) of the globe is NOT evil. If you don't want anyone to keep tabs on you then you always have the simple and easy option of committing suicide.

If you don't, then either you don't mind Google keeping tabs on you, or you are a wuss.

It Is About Context (2, Interesting)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361633)

It isn't that Google necessarily care that it is "you" (actually they might but that is another thread...), but "you" are doing a search and then clicking on links in a particular order which is a context that is important for ranking. At an abstract level, the relationship between what you searched and the links you tried is stuff Google wants to track to help enhance relevancy and search results. The problem is that with modern technology to do this they need to know somethings that aren't anonymous which can be abused.

If they can come up with a way to do this without tying it all back a computer and the individual who made the request then we are probably all better off not because privacy issues (but that is a great side effect) but because you get better results from removing the irrelevant data from ranking consideration. The closer they get to a true anonymous search system, the better the results should theoretically be.

Re:The real WTF is.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360803)

It's called a "something interesting" tag. Please tag all your communications that way so we can distinguish them.

Thank you,
Googlers

"In Soviet Russia, evil does you!"

Uhm (2, Interesting)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360069)

All they have to do is erase the logs every day or just not keep them. It doesn't "take an effort". Anonymous proxies have been doing this for years.

Re:Uhm (4, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360147)

And anonymous proxies do not need to make money or provide much of a service unlike google, logs are very useful for such things.

Re:Uhm (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360153)

All they have to do is erase the logs every day or just not keep them. It doesn't "take an effort". Anonymous proxies have been doing this for years.

I know where you're coming from, but that would kinda fuck with their targetting advertising business model dontcha think?

Re:Uhm (2, Insightful)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360171)

it doesn't have to, after all the targetted ads are supposedly targetted to the *content* of the pages and your search query. No need to keep that for two years in order to target it better unless you have other plans with my data (such as selling my 'profile').

Re:Uhm (3, Insightful)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360481)

I'm between the two extremes of agreeing with you and agreeing that data needs to be retained. As any of us who have taken a statistics class (or four) can tell you, you don't need access to the whole sample to provide accurate data. So, say, for instance, the Google engineers were working on a specific niche of the web, say, dog lovers. If I were designing something to better suit dog lovers, my first step would be pulling a report on the common search patterns of people that search for dog-related topics.

Historical data that identifies a unique user is extremely useful. I do the same thing with our Intranet search and report tools. If I want to improve something, oftentimes the logs will give a very telling tale. (This accounting department employee searched for "expense", then "expense excel", then "expense spreadsheet", then "expense log", finally getting his document. I can then add the keywords 'excel' 'spreadsheet' to the actual document entry.) That said, you don't actually need to know who the unique user is, for all intents and research purposes, User5486734067 is just as useful as an IP+Cookie.

Re:Uhm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360749)

Let me assure you, my "dog lover" searches were just a phase which in no way reflects my relationship with the animal kingdom. DELETE THE LOGS NOW!

Re:Uhm (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360799)

Even for the example you give I would not need to know *who* made those searches.

There are two good reasons to keep the data, as far as I can see, the first is to avoid sending
the same ad to someone twice (but for that you only need a history of what ads they've seen, not
what they have searched for, though of course that does help to tag a user as a 'programmer' or
an 'accountant'), the second is when you go in to the massive selling of profiles business.

There are some companies that do this (Schober comes to mind, there is an 'umlaut' over the
o but I have no idea how to put it there...), and if google would ever decide to augment
their revenues like this to make the next 3 month target then we are all going to be in for
a lot of trouble from DM people.

I think I'll hack a network sniffer to record my own searches for a few weeks and see what
kind of profile you could build up from there, I'm actually pretty curious about that.

Re:Uhm (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361389)

I never said they need the "who", just the unique ID to chain the searches together.

From my experience with AdSense, Google doesn't give direct access to any of the information. In fact, it makes sense for them to strongly protect their profiles. If they sell them, they lose control over them. Sure, they can retain legal control, but once they're out, they're out. Google isn't dumb, they'd rather make $1 for every profile access versus $100 up front, as the $1s will add up over time (not actual dollars, just an example). They make money by granting access through AdSense to more strongly target ads.

And I can't find the link, but the search profile study has been done, although I'm not sure about how accurate it is. I bet with any sizable search history for a given unique user, a good portion of them could be traced back to an individual, particularly with programmers and system administrators. Why? Because we search for very specific things. You could, for instance, see "/etc/passwd cygwin permission denied mkpasswd xp" in my search history from today. Seeing that I searched a dozen permutations of that afterward, you could theorize I had an issue I wasn't finding, and could then connect that with various mailing lists and Google Groups and search for the same terms (or various IRC log aggregations) and find my e-mail address and, likely, my name, and maybe a signature with my name and company name, along with e-mail headers yielding an IP address.

Re:Uhm (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361567)

true enough, apologies.

As for the search profile study that was AOL's blunder, and after examining
the data that AOL provided in some detail (several weeks worth of work) I am
absolutely amazed at how privacy invasive this stuff is.

That is why I'm eagerly awaiting a competitor to the big G that has a really
strong privacy statement.

If the quality is anywhere near comparable I'll switch in a heartbeat. But I
do not doubt that I'd be one of very few people to do so. Not because I have
something to hide, just because I have seen what you could do with that data.

Re:Uhm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360463)

Yep, migrating god-only-knows-how-many thousands of servers onto a differeng data aggregating model, piece of cake...

right.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360073)

And how are they going to comply to the EU regulations, which stipulate a much longer retention-time?

Re:right.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360105)

Why would Google have to comply with EU regulations? :?

Re:right.... (4, Insightful)

ag0ny (59629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360117)

Why would Google have to comply with EU regulations? :?

Maybe because they do business in Europe?

Re:right.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360753)

It still doesn't apply to them.

Re:right.... (1)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361393)

EU regulations apply to any business a company does within the EU. No matter where the company is registered. That means Google, too. There'd be little point to these regulatiouns otherwise.

Go away.

Re:right.... (5, Informative)

skrolle2 (844387) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360369)

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do? uri=CELEX:32006L0024:EN:NOT [europa.eu]

The data retention directive only applies to ISPs, and only deals with who you "communicate" with. It does not explicitly say that a record of which websites you visit should be retained, and it explicitly says that the content of the communication must not be retained.

However, as for all EU directives, it only contains the baseline of regulation. Directives are never law themselves, but have to be implemented in each respective member state by each respective legislative body. These, in turn, are free to implement whatever they want ABOVE the baseline, so some member states may have longer retention periods for this data, some member states may require ISPs to retain additional data.

The deadline for this directive is September this year, but if you read it, a few member states have reserved the option to postpone parts of the directive, typically of the internet-related traffic. This basically means that they recognize the difficulties in implementing it, and want more time to think about on how to do it, or possibly obstruct it.

What all of this boils down to is that maybe, sometime in the future, if you have an European ISP, they may be required to store all the URLs that you access. Google search data is transmitted as querystring parameters that are part of the URL, which means that your search data may be stored by your ISP, in a non-anonymized way. There's nothing in this possible future that Google has to comply with, as long as they are not an European ISP.

Re:right.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360569)

Gmail, and end-user e-mail service, and Google Talk (an end-user Voip service, at least in part) are certainly within the common definitions of Internet services and fall directly within the remit of incoming and existing data retention directives.

Re:right.... (1)

skrolle2 (844387) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361729)

You are right and I am wrong. :-)

Most of the other requirements are at least in some sort of feasible realm, they deal with which DSL modem at what address had what IP at what time, and which cellphone called which other. It's intrusive and bad, but at least tied to hardware and physical location. However, I missed this part:

(2) concerning Internet e-mail and Internet telephony:
(i) the user ID or telephone number of the intended recipient(s) of an Internet telephony call;
(ii) the name(s) and address(es) of the subscriber(s) or registered user(s) and user ID of the intended recipient of the communication;

Given a wide interpretation of "internet e-mail", say that we include forum posts, that would require everyone who has a PhpBB or equivalent to store the headers of all posts the required time. This is insane. Also, say that we include Skype in "internet telephony call", just who is supposed to store the call details if it's done peer-to-peer? If only the peers know that a call has taken place, why would they store it somewhere if they don't want to?

It's pretty clear that this directive is written by people who think of the internet in the same terms as plain old telephony, which is highly centralized and under the control of a few corporate entities with business interests in the member states. Luckily, we're moving away from that model faster and faster.

Re:right.... (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360453)

Lobbyists

Yes! (1)

MrClownLovesYourMom (1003061) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360081)

Finally we search for those pics of Britneys vagina without fear of harming our permanent google record.

Re:Yes! (1, Offtopic)

MrClownLovesYourMom (1003061) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360129)

All we need now, is to be able to edit our typo's on ./

Mine already is (2, Informative)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360085)

Although I did have to install the AnonymizeGoogle Firefox plugin to get it.

Re:Mine already is (5, Informative)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360345)

Ignore that post above - I'm a moron. I meant to say CustomizeGoogle Firefox plugin .Get it here [customizegoogle.com] .

I guess that's what happens when you Slashdot before caffeine. I'm sorry.

Re:Mine already is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360765)

Wow .. so you can customize Firefox to interact with Google without an IP?

Impressive, most impressive. In a related development, I heard that if you turn off "Send Caller ID" on your cellphone then you can make prank bomb threats to the White House! They'll NEVER find you!

Re:Mine already is (3, Informative)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361031)

Your IP usually isn't the problem, especially in my case where my ISP sends it all through their regional proxy anyway. What CustomizeGoogle does is randomize your Google UID. Take another look at the recent AOL breach - people weren't suffering privacy loss due to their IP address, but rather because AOL gave each and every user a number that could be tracked through the system. Thanks to CustomizeGoogle, that won't happen to me and my searches.

How about (1)

squoozer (730327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360087)

anonymizing it straight away! That would be an even quicker solution to the problem.

0 months? (1)

pr0nbot (313417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360093)

Why not anonymise the data after zero months? Are they required by law not to?

Re:0 months? (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360135)

In some countries, yes, they are required to.

Re:0 months? (4, Insightful)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360137)

My guess is they don't do it immediately is because there is internal business value in mining the data. User patterns, length of stay, etc. After 18 or 24 months, the internal value has dropped significantly as things change quickly. I would have thought that the value would have dropped even quicker then that, say after 6 months or maybe a year.

Re:0 months? (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360159)

Even if they weren't legally required it makes more business sense to keep as much data as possible as you never know when someone will need it for some project.

Re:0 months? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360515)

You also never know when someone will need it to sue you...

Because Google's primarily a media company... (4, Informative)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360381)

Why not anonymise the data after zero months?
Because Google's primarily a media company, like NBC, only with much finer detail about what you want to see. Like any media company, Google finds demographic data incredibly valuable because it allows them to "connect" you with the "correct" advertisers. There's no way in hell Google would let people be completely anonymous; it goes against their business plan. (I'd also bet three years from now we'll find through some court case that backup tapes somewhere really extend "anonymous after 18 months" to 4-5 years.)

I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360113)

I, for one, will be very glad that they won't be able to pin my searches for "Goldfish porn" and "Kinky sofa covers" back to my IP.
Signed,
John Jacob Smith
123 Brookfield Lane
Towarg, South Carolina

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360133)

I agree.

-Bill Gates
One Microsoft Way

Re:I for one... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360549)

"Goldfish porn" and "Kinky sofa covers"

      Funny you mention that, I was searching just the other day for "sofa porn" and "kinky Goldfish covers"...

Shouldn't be collecting that info anyway (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360143)

Google should not be collecting any of that huge pile of information AT ALL, not just anonymising it after 18 months. As the AOL case showed, search queries can be used to identify individuals even after AOL anonymized them, so it's not IP addresses they are recording, it's PEOPLE.

There is no need to collect the IP addresses of searchers that haven't opted in to Google's personalized search. There is no law, that requires it.

There is no need to store the IP addresses of individual visitors to websites when Google analytics is used on a web page.

There is no need to store IP addresses of pages delivered to adsense viewers. Clicks maybe for a short time to prevent click fraud, but viewers, no.

None of this information should be recorded, and further the EU privacy directive should be enforced to ensure that none of that information is recorded. The law says we have privacy, Google should be forced to comply with that law.

Re:Shouldn't be collecting that info anyway (2, Insightful)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360359)

There is no need? What about the monetary need? Google doesn't really care who you are, but they do care about what you are looking for. The more they know about what you are looking for the better their AdSense program can do. The better it does, the more money they make.

As for your whole you "we have privacy" bit, sure you do. In your own home while using your stuff. The moment you sent your request out over the internet in plain text to a third party (that is a corporation out to make money you know) you lost that.

No Consent (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360663)

Exactly, it's to Google's MONETARY benefit that they record this information. The EU Privacy law says THEY CANNOT RECORD MORE PERSONAL INFORMATION THAN IS NEEDED FOR A TRANSACTION. Now that it's clear that search data is personally identifiable, the EU Privacy law should be used to FORCE GOOGLE TO QUIT IT.

"The moment you sent your request out over the internet in plain text to a third party (that is a corporation out to make money you know) you lost that."

Not so, the law says we have to consent and we didn't consent!

And what about when that party isn't Google? Google analytics is not on Google's site, it's embedded on third party sites, Google's adsense is on other people's site too. I didn't consent to handing my data to Google when I surfed to third parties site, Google took that data and recorded it in violation of EU privacy laws.

This has also been sued for before resulting in Doubleclick backing down over exactly this issue.

http://archives.cnn.com/2000/TECH/computing/01/28/ double.click.lawsuit.idg/ [cnn.com]

"A California woman has filed suit against DoubleClick, accusing the U.S.-based online advertising company of unlawfully obtaining and selling consumers' personal information, according to a statement issued by her attorney's office."

"Hariett M. Judnick filed the suit in Marin County Superior Court in California, on behalf of the "general public of the state of California," the statement said.
The suit alleges that DoubleClick employs Internet cookies to identify users and track their movements on the Internet. The company tracks and records the sites an individual visits, as well as the information transmitted on the sites, such as names, ages, addresses, shopping patterns and financial information."

Re:Shouldn't be collecting that info anyway (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360717)

Technically speaking you as the search end user can make better use of personalised search history and refinement of results. Everybody tends to use search phrases and search styles in a different manner, especially in relation to the experience level of the user.

Searching will only get more and more complex as time progresses and things like automatic language translations finally start to appear. Privacy on one hand or the search engine adapting to your search style, not really as clear cut a choice as it first appears, especially for the novice searcher (Boolean WTF is Boolean, a skinny ghost?).

Targeted marketing is a bit of a fudge, I generally buy a new PC every two, marketing a PC at me in between that time will not induce me to go out and buy a PC. Adsense is more about marketing to the people who want to pay for advertising, it makes them feel better about the money they are spending.

The real focus is on making sure the end user is happy with the search results, so they wont go else where and will specifically seek to use Google search.

Re:Shouldn't be collecting that info anyway (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361001)

Google should not be collecting any of that huge pile of information AT ALL, not just anonymising it after 18 months. As the AOL case showed, search queries can be used to identify individuals even after AOL anonymized them, so it's not IP addresses they are recording, it's PEOPLE.

AOL did not anonymize correctly. True anonymization would not have queries linked by "userid". Giving you 100 queries and saying "these 10 were made by one user, these 7 by another, etc." is far different from just giving you 100 queries and saying "these were made by anywhere between 1 and 100 users, inclusively."

Re:Shouldn't be collecting that info anyway (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361539)

Google could not exist without collecting this information. This data is central to its business model, and key to its differentiation from other search engines. Its history of growth (of individuals choosing to use Google over similar products) validates this approach and also demonstrates that the methodology is generally accepted. The great majority of web uers see nothing wrong with the method even though concerns about it are getting a fair amount of publicity.

According to TFA (4, Insightful)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360149)

Google plan to make it "more anonymous". Like pregnancy, data either ARE anonymous or they ain't. You can't qualify an absolute, and "anonymous" is an absolute condition indicating lack of information.

ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360211)

If you don't know what Cmd-Shift-1 and Cmd-Shift-2 are for, GTFO.
If you think Firefox is a decent Mac application, GTFO.
If you're still looking for the "maximize" button, GTFO.
If you don't know Clarus from Carl Sagan, GTFO.

Bandwagon jumpers are not welcome among real Mac users. Keep your filthy PC fingers to yourself.

Re:According to TFA (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360291)

we will anonymize our server logs

so that it can no longer be identified with individual users
Sounds anonymous to me.

Re:According to TFA (1)

Cytlid (95255) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360583)

So you're saying "Data are either impregnated with anonymity or they ain't?"

I need another cup of coffee.

It's there servers (1, Troll)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360167)

Stop googling for "jihad death to american president" if you're worried about getting caught.

I should point out that your google query goes over plaintext HTTP so anyone inbetween can eavesdrop on your queries.

Tom

Re:It's there servers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360227)

Sorry for mispelling "their." That was particularly lame...

Tom

Re:It's there servers (5, Insightful)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360243)

Stop googling for "jihad death to american president" if you're worried about getting caught.
You're correct. The only people that demand privacy are those up to no good. How about I come over to your house later, sit in your bed for a bit, go through your draws and your phone records, take some pictures of you and your friends, ask the neighbours some pressing questions?

If you've got nothing to hide, you should have no problem with this.

Re:It's there servers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360279)

Are you female? If so, i have no problem with this ;-)

Re:It's there servers (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360377)

Ah, the out of context argument. My house is private by the definition that I have locks on the doors and blinds on the windows. Your analogy may make sense if, say, a public walkway passed through my living room.

I'm not saying people shouldn't have privacy, I'm saying if you export your secrets outside of your domain, you shouldn't expect privacy.

You don't do your personal finances on a city bus do you?

Re:It's there servers (4, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360519)

Ah, the out of context argument. My house is private by the definition that I have locks on the doors and blinds on the windows.

      Funny - my computer is in my house, behind locks and blinds too. Hey Google's computers also are behind lock and key, and they even have security guards and alarm systems. I don't ever remember giving Google permission to disclose any information shared between them and I - oh and heaven forbid I go around giving away the information Google found for me - I'd get sued!

      Why would the whole world automatically be party to the information Google and I shared one evening? My computer sent that information to a specific internet address, and the answer came back specifically to my computer.

      Not so out of context...

Re:It's there servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360665)

Why would the whole world automatically be party to the information Google and I shared one evening?

You should have noticed that it isn't. The topic is that Google will stop remembering that it was you who searched for monkey porn (or stock quotes - I can only guess) two years ago. The situation is like this:

Dubal: Can you keep a secret?
Google: No, according to my privacy statement, I will rat out on you if the cops ask me. Also, if I'm drunk and blab it out, you have no recourse.
Dubal: Ok, here's the secret.
Google: Thanks. By the way, in two years I will forget that you told me this.

Re:It's there servers (3, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360705)

This is why it pays to have a modicum of computer knowledge.

Assuming you're not trolling...

When you send a query to google, it goes over the "internet" in the clear. That is, not encrypted. Anyone who can see it can read it. Well who can read it? Turns out a lot of people. Between me and google are probably 10 different boxes. 5 of which are just my ISPs routers. The other five are boxes on other networks, not even related to Google.

There is no inherant requirement for privacy like there is with telephones (maybe their ought to be one). But that said, you're giving your data to Google, willingly no less. That gives them every right to record it. You gave them permission by using their service, I guess you never read their TOS [google.ca] which is your fault, not theirs. Think about the analogy in the real world. This is like you handing your drivers license to every stranger you meet, then getting upset when some of them write it down.

If you don't want your assets [IP, location, name, platform, etc] leaked to Google you should use an anonymous proxy.

Tom

Re:It's there servers (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360923)

Stop googling for "jihad death to american president" if you're worried about getting caught.

When you use language like "caught" you are obviously not referring to Google, but rather some external agency (i.e. the government) rather than by Google. You are changing the parties involved to strengthen your argument.

Re:It's there servers (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361159)

Funny - my computer is in my house, behind locks and blinds too.

But your search queries leave the house, unencrypted, with no guarantee of protection and travel to Google. That's where the analogy has fault.

Re:It's there servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18361027)

I don't understand peoples idea that information that I pay to recieve is anyone else's business. If I want to look up plastic explosives, I can do it. If I want to look up anti-American punk rock, I can do it. Unless I do hurt someone, I'm not a criminal.

Here's an idea, maybe the government should stop pissing people off, that way they wouldn't have to worry.

Yeah yeah, freedom hater, terrorist, whine bitch moan. Sorry I don't do search queries for the same boring shit that you do. Waiit, no I'm not. Take your snooping and wiretapping laws and suck them like a club-hopping slut on Saturday night, I'll do whatever I like with my time.

Re:It's there servers (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361049)

Whoa, step off. I'm not saying you should be denied searching that. All I'm saying is don't think it's private. So if you are worried about your privacy, don't use public search engines.

People seem to infer that I mean to say you should only search for telescreen approved subjects. Hell no. Just don't expect privacy when you're using someone elses server, over the Internet IN CLEARTEXT.

Tom

Re:It's there servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18361479)

I understand completely, but how would I go about this, then? What exactly is a NON-public search engine?

Why should information going from me to the source and back again be anyone else's business? That's my real question. Why CAN'T it be private?

Re:It's there servers (1)

QCompson (675963) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361199)

I'm not saying people shouldn't have privacy, I'm saying if you export your secrets outside of your domain, you shouldn't expect privacy.

Although really, there is a good argument to be made that people have the expectation of privacy when they use the internet from their own homes, even if it is not technically feasible.

To use the house analogy, I assume you don't keep your blinds down on your windows 24/7. Wouldn't it feel wrong if someone were using a telescopic lens from 200 feet away and watching your every move through your windows? What if you were writing a private letter on an airplane, and when you got up to use the lavatory, the stranger sitting next to you unfolded the letter and started reading it? Or if you fell asleep on a bus and someone started going through your cell-phone data. None of these actions are technically illegal, but I assume they would upset you, just as people get upset when you suggest that all their internet movements are being snooped on.

I'm not completely disagreeing with you, but I just wanted to point out that just because something can be easily eavesdropped on or monitored doesn't mean that we should abandon all privacy rights because of it. People expect privacy in their communications via snail mail and telephone calls (and we have laws to protect this), why should email or web searches be any different?

Personally, I think the old postcard vs. sealed letter analogy is a good one for the internet, but I wish more connections were encrypted by default, and stronger privacy laws were enacted to cover everyday internet usage.

Re:It's there servers (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361295)

I should point out it's legal to be naked in your home, but not infront of a window where others can see.

There is a certain question about whether you can use information eavesdropped off the internet in legal proceedings. But that's a question of law, not privacy. If you're worried about privacy, you must keep your secrets to yourself.

And frankly, you don't have a contract with Google to not log your searches. Add to that your'e doing it over http and it's hard to argue anything else.

i could see if you used google via https and had an agreement that your searches wouldn't be logged. then you could argue you deserve privacy. But that's not what you are doing.

Tom

Re:It's there servers (1)

QCompson (675963) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361451)

But that's a question of law, not privacy.
Which is why there should be a law to protect privacy on the internet. Law and privacy are not mutually exclusive.

This isn't simply a matter of reading TOS's. I don't see why we should have to wait for a corporation to offer it to us before arguing we deserve privacy. Again, there is an expectation of privacy for telephone and U.S. mail communication, so why should we throw up our hands and abandon all hope of privacy for the internet?

Re:It's there servers (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361543)

arrg..

Ok let me explain this to you.

Even over the phone, you have no privacy. Even though it's illegal to wiretap without a warrant. There is a difference between privacy and "non-admissable in a court of law."

Imagine you were a spy, and you wanted to communicate with your handler. Would you talk plainly and openly over the phone because wiretapping without a warrant is illegal? No. you'd encrypt the message [codewords, etc]

And while yes, I think the government should require warrants before wiretaping your net connection, I don't see that your queries with Google are specifically private. If google, a party to the communication, decides to divulge the nature of the data, that's their business. More so, I don't think google is leaking the data, I think they use it interally to target the ads better.

Point is, if you don't want people knowing your secrets, don't broadcast them for all to see.

Tom

Re:It's there servers (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360495)

If you've got nothing to hide, you should have no problem with this.

      Yeah while we're there we can install the webcam in his bathroom and broadcast on the net every time he takes a crap. I have a pair of guys willing to do the commentary on wiping techniques to add to the video...

Re:It's there servers (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360397)

Stop googling for "jihad death to american president" if you're worried about getting caught.

Excuse me?! I live in America and if I want to research the results of the search terms "jihad death to american president" I'm well within my fucking rights.

Fuck you for saying otherwise.

Re:It's there servers (2, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360431)

Well you're describing a law enforcement problem not a privacy issue.

Google is within their rights to gather as much information as you feed them (your ip, time of day, host strings, query string, etc).

My point was if you were planning on committing crimes, you shouldn't use google to find tips.

Tom

Re:It's there servers (1)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360625)

Google is within their rights to gather as much information as you feed them (your ip, time of day, host strings, query string, etc).
I see the problem now; you clearly don't understand the extent of Google's monitoring. They're not logging just IP address', they're logging people. The AOL data that came out showed how you could follow tracking cookies to see exactly what people, not IP address', were searching for.

I don't see why you have such a problem with it anyway. Many people around the world asked for greater privacy, Google gave it to them and you got your panties in a twist. Why is that?

Re:It's there servers (2, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360733)

I'm not against google cleaning their logs. I'm against people claiming this is a privacy issue.

Google logging all your queries: Not a privacy problem.

Bank leaking your SSN via stolen laptop: Privacy problem.

AOL knowing that you like midget porn: Not a privacy problem.

Government using sub-standard contractor to manage passport data, later turns up on broken into computer: Privacy problem.

By screaming wolf every time "data" is mentioned you desensitize people to real privacy problems.

IAO (1)

lundqvist (1070102) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360181)

I bet that means the IAO has their project running properly now so they no longer need to use Google Logs ...

We still think of the children! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360325)

After previously fighting turning over search data to the feds, it looks like they are striking another blow to the "think of the children" crowd.
Anybody who remembers this incident probably also remembers the article 'Google in bed with the CIA' too:

"Google was a little hypocritical when they were refusing to honor a Department of Justice request for information because they were heavily in bed with the Central Intelligence Agency, the office of research and development," said Steele.
http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/october2006/2 71006googlecia.htm [prisonplanet.com]

Makes me wonder how fast does the CIA anonymize their material? Ha!

Re:We still think of the children! (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360669)

Yep, I love how we hear all this great theatre about Google "not being evil", "fighting subpeonas" and "anonymizing search records" while at the same time they become more firmly embedded in the US spy services. What else would one expect from a business that is (according to another poster) "primarily a media company, like NBC"?

Here's a quote from William Colby, former Director of the CIA:
"The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any major significance in the major media."

Plus ça change...

Re:We still think of the children! (1)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361685)

Thats the way its supposed to be. If the CIA didn't own people then they would have to be shutdown for negligence.

Re:We still think of the children! (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361725)

And what more reliable source could one image than a 9/11 conspiracy theorist?

frisT psot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18360413)

coomunitY. The new faces and many

rom the poof-your-gone dept. (0, Offtopic)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360445)

"you're gone" [you are]

Re:rom the poof-your-gone dept. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18361381)

no- "your gone" [your bases gone - belong to us]

This is quite significant, (1)

j_heisenberg (464756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360455)

since that data could be abused in any number of ways, including credit scoring, insurance scoring or leaks of "interesting details" to the press. Probably those would hurt Google's reputation more than any additional income it could generate, but it's still the better policy.

Firefox can already anonymize Google (1)

seandiggity (992657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360537)

If you're worried about privacy, I recommend Firefox [getfirefox.com] and the Customize Google extension [mozilla.org] . I'm also a fan of Googlepedia [mozilla.org] .

18-24 months? (2, Insightful)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360543)

Which is it? 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 or 24?

Yeah Right (1)

Psx29 (538840) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360595)

This means nothing. If you click the link.."By anonymizing our server logs after 18-24 months..." That's still far too long and is most likely motivated more by logistical concerns in retaining so much data than out of any act of benevolence. However it definately makes good PR to paint this as 'Taking steps to improve privacy'...

You won't be anonymous, and it doesn't matter (2, Interesting)

guanxi (216397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360605)

To quote them:
"It is difficult to guarantee complete anonymization, but we believe these changes will make it very unlikely users could be identified."

"Changing the bits of an IP address makes it less likely that the IP address can be associated with a specific computer or user. Cookie anonymization makes it less likely that a cookie can be used to identify a user."

"[I]t's possible that data retention laws will obligate us to retain logs for longer periods."

"How many subpoenas for server log data does Google receive each year?
As a matter of policy, we don't provide specifics on law enforcement requests to Google."


I don't think it will mean much unless they publish their anonymization technique. Even Google seems to have doubts about it, and considering the resources of some attackers (e.g., national governments), if the anonymization can be broken it will be.

But Google's anonymization does not have to be perfect: Google isn't the only place your google.com activity is recorded: There's your personal computer, possibly your ISP, other sites (referrer links show Google search terms), etc. As long as Google makes their anonymity difficult enough to break that it's significantly easier to go elsewhere for the information, they've done their job. If you need to be anonymous, I hope you are taking other steps.

I, for one, welcome the merciful intentions of our benign new overlords.

Um... (1)

superbus1929 (1069292) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360841)

Didn't AOL get into a lot of trouble for this?

Personally... we knew this was going to happen. Anyone that's surprised is a fool.

Things That Bit Butts, Part Deux (5, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#18360973)

List of nifty little phrases that have bitten their speakers in the ass:

  • They will never bomb Berlin
  • Read my lips, no new taxes
  • I did not have sex with that woman
  • Mission accomplished
  • Don't be evil

Now Google brings us:

Let's just be less evil, now that we've been caught.

well (1)

DuroSoft (1009945) | more than 7 years ago | (#18361093)

The 'think of the children crowd' should be very pleased by this - children search for sketchy things all the time... and then their parents get blamed for it.

'Twould be better if it all stayed anonymous, in my opinion
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?