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Privacy Group Gives Google Lowest Possible Grade

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the eff-triple-minus dept.

Privacy 260

The Washington Post is reporting on a finding by London-based group Privacy International. In a new report, they find that Google has some of the worst privacy-protection practices anywhere on the web, giving them the lowest possible grade. "While a number of other Internet companies have troubling policies, none comes as close to Google to 'achieving status as an endemic threat to privacy,' Privacy International said in an explanation of its findings. In a statement from one of its lawyers, Google said it aggressively protects its users' privacy and stands behind its track record. In its most conspicuous defense of user privacy, Google last year successfully fought a U.S. Justice Department subpoena demanding to review millions of search requests."

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260 comments

Goatse! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460273)

tell me.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460551)

do you sit here at slashdot all day and night, with no life, no girlfriend, no job, jerking off, clicking that refresh button every second just to see if you can get a first post to show goatse? you must really get some extreme personal gratitude for yourself with every first post..

Re:tell me.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460687)

do you sit here at slashdot all day and night, with no life, no girlfriend, no job, jerking off, clicking that refresh button every second just to see if you can get a first post to show goatse?

No, sometimes I'm fucking your mother.

Re:tell me.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460833)

How can you fuck my mother if your living in your parents basement and have never had actual female contact in your life? Fucking my mother would require you to actually leave your house. It would also require actual physical movement from the torso down which you are not capable of. Furthermore I don't think you want to expose your gross obesity to the world. (Though I am sure many many homosexual men would love your company)

Simply put, it would be much easier for you to keep sitting at your keyboard jacking off to a fellow males gaping hole, and refreshing slashdot for more self gratifiaction and first posts than to try to fuck my mother. I am sure there are lots of other people out there who can also relate to you.

Re:tell me.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460971)

so what you're saying is that your mom's not a woman?

Links for nerds on stories that matter (5, Informative)

echucker (570962) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460291)

The Privacy International article - The Privacy International article [privacyinternational.org]

Their report (interim rankings only) [privacyinternational.org]

Final rankings won't be available until September. Wonder what they'll be dicking around for three months for....

Re:Links for nerds on stories that matter (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460309)

Gives time for sensationalism without facts. After three months, they'll show their information and everybody will have forgotten about it, not caring enough to discover their faulty reasoning.

Re:Links for nerds on stories that matter (1)

MonorailCat (1104823) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460393)

Mod parent up to +5 Cynical

but I tend to agree, google scoring the worst possible score doesn't quite mesh with my sense of reality but I could be wrong

Re:Links for nerds on stories that matter (5, Informative)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460549)

Google seem to be taking it seriously enough to accuse Privacy International of being in bed with Microsoft, which is a laughable accusation.

Privacy International responded via an open letter here. [privacyinternational.org]

Re:Links for nerds on stories that matter (4, Funny)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460663)

Google seem to be taking it seriously enough to accuse Privacy International of being in bed with Microsoft, which is a laughable accusation.

Well.... if anyone would have the information to prove this link, Google would! But what does that say about Google's privacy practices?

Re:Links for nerds on stories that matter (0, Redundant)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460683)

I should have previewed. Posting should look like this:

Google seem to be taking it seriously enough to accuse Privacy International of being in bed with Microsoft, which is a laughable accusation.
Well.... if anyone would have the information to prove this link, Google would! But what does that say about Google's privacy practices?

Re:Links for nerds on stories that matter (4, Informative)

fuego451 (958976) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460969)

Well, there is one, albeit small, link to Microsoft. From the "About Privacy International" page, UK advisory board:

Caspar Bowde ~ Privacy specialist, Microsoft, EMEA UK

Re:Links for nerds on stories that matter (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460323)

according to a watchdog group seeking to intensify the recent focus on how the online search leader handles personal information about its users.
Seems to me that the goal of the study was to make a single company look bad and not to scientifically evaluate the privacy and then interpret the results.

Re:Links for nerds on stories that matter (5, Informative)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460529)

Actually, if you look at the preliminary report, they seem to have done a pretty good job. For example, Google does not consider IP address as personal information. This is OK if you are conneccting from a local coffee shop, but sucks if you have a static IP, or even do DHCP over a small range of addresses. It also points out that they don't always consider privacy implications before releasing information such as Street-level view. With the amount of data that Google gathers, analyzes, utilizes and releases (both publicly and its corporate partners), these kind of actions are a bit disturbing.

I'm not trying to say this report is perfect, or that there is enough information provided to evaluate it independently. However, seeing a conspiracy targeted at Google because a group got upset about some of their practices, and decided to do a study (which included a lot more companies than just Google), is a bit premature.

Re:Links for nerds on stories that matter (2, Informative)

Kijori (897770) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460619)

If you look through the results it certainly seems like this to me. Try, for example, comparing Google's record with Friendster's (immediately above in their table). From the data they have gathered I would put the two companies on a par concerning their privacy issues, but Google is put at the very bottom while Friendster scores normally. Perhaps I'm being overly cautious but this doesn't feel like a balanced study.

Re:Links for nerds on stories that matter (2, Informative)

wakim1618 (579135) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460851)

Their 'about us' on their website is also interesting http://www.privacyinternational.org/article.shtml? cmd%5B347%5D=x-347-65428 [privacyinternational.org]. It is full of statements relating to diversity of various sorts such as the international diversity of board members, the professional diversity of members, diversity of funding sources.... yet almost nothing about competence or credentials with respect to technology or the internet. In fact, their list of expert members http://www.privacyinternational.org/article.shtml? cmd%5B347%5D=x-347-145834 [privacyinternational.org] consists almost exclusively of government bureaucrats, lawyers, non-tech academics (e.g. law, business).

A suggestion... (5, Insightful)

313373_bot (766001) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460297)

Google last year successfully fought a U.S. Justice Department subpoena demanding to review millions of search requests.
Very nice, but how long until either Google loses some legal fight, or it simply decides not to fight?

One solution to the privacy problem, in my oppinion, would be granting users, besides the ability of not surrendering more information than necessary for a given transaction, some effective way of deleting their personal data once done with Google, Yahoo, Amazon or whoever else.

Re:A suggestion... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460319)

they decided not to fight China 2 years ago.

The Future of Google: Total Surveillance (5, Interesting)

skrew (111096) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460351)

The problem is they keep all your search results, with tracking cookie. Google is in bed with the CIA: http://www.disgrunt.com/blog/2006/10/27/former-int elligence-agent-says-google-in-bed-with-cia/ [disgrunt.com] Have any of you guys seen the new gmail? I won't use it...it has a built in calendar, word processor, and of course, permanent email storage, converge this with permanent tracking cookies, logs of all search requests from your IP, and of course google earth/maps (will go live eventually as the technology changes) and you have the recipie for total uncontrolled surveillance.

Re:The Future of Google: Total Surveillance (5, Insightful)

Deekin_Scalesinger (755062) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460515)

Why mod this down? I rarely put on the tinfoil hat, but they can have an awful lot of data for people who choose to use many/all of their services. It is an aggregate of many people's lives. Not saying that they are doing it, but the guy deserves more than a -1 for his thoughts.

You can't (4, Interesting)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460447)

You have two choices. in one corner, you have a nice, stable, secure ASP that hosts your email / calender/ etc. They have redundant filesystems and/or make regular backups.

Your other choice is being able to delete your profile with a click.

People who think that the idea of being able to delete your profile is in any way simple or trivial are deluding themselves. Google themselves have said that because of the way GFS works they can *NEVER* know when a piece of data flagged for deletion is actually no longer recoverable. That fault tolerance and redundancy is built into the design.

It is the same thing at Yahoo and MSN. All these guys have redundant systems with backups. It would take days worth of man hours to delete a persons profile. Hard thing to demand from a free service.

If you don't want Google holding your data, no one is putting a bullet to your head. You don't need to have cookies enabled or anything else to use their search engine. Frankly I trust them with my email more than my ISP.

Re:You can't (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460497)

People who think that the idea of being able to delete your profile is in any way simple or trivial are deluding themselves.
Deleting accounts created on systems has always been a default consideration. That this is not the popular perception points directly to conspiratorial motives.

Google themselves have said
What percentage of convicted felons plead ?

that because of the way GFS works they can *NEVER* know when a piece of data flagged for deletion is actually no longer recoverable.
Because nobody ever thought about that when writing the filesystem code?

That fault tolerance and redundancy is built into the design.
As proper deletion should have been as well.

It would take days worth of man hours to delete a persons profile.
Not if the filesystem support and account management code had been properly written.

Hard thing to demand from a free service.
How many 401(k) funds tanked when the .com bubble burst? That was real money that the investment industry heads ran off with. Web services are _not_ free--we've already paid for them and we continue to pay for them when we buy products from companies who invest in whatever way, eg. advertising, in the world wide web. That this is not the common perception points, again, directly to conspiratorial motives in line with fraud, embezzlement, and pyramid schemes.

Re:You can't (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460785)

Deleting accounts created on systems has always been a default consideration.

As proper deletion should have been

Not if the filesystem support and account management code had been properly written.

You obviously have no clue how a filesystem stack works. Data is rarely deleted per se on *any* filesystem, simply unlinked and possibly flagged for later overwriting. Why do you think projets like this [sourceforge.net] exist?

Even if a file (if an email or google doc is even stored in what one would *call* a file) did get deleted, the indexing that is done would make at least pieces parts recoverable until their staleness is discovered, which could be a while.

Even then, a good forensic analyist could probably recover something that had been allegedly deleted.

Overwriting data to securely erase it is expensive on a desktop and approaching impossible on a busy server. This is why people who don't wear tinfoil hats will use Boot'n'Nuke or somesuch before selling a hard drive on eBay. You can't just delete something (even on your own computer, mind you) and expect it to be gone. That's not the way filesystems work.

--------
Check your facts at the door; be sure to pay a quarter!

Re:You can't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460897)

You obviously have no clue how a filesystem stack works
Obviously you have no clue how to write a proper filesystem infrastructure.

Data is rarely deleted per se on *any* filesystem
But this is not a hardware deficiency. This is something which could easily be written (shred) in to the filesystem code. Full delete, of course, would take a performance hit during deletion operations.

the indexing that is done would make at least pieces parts recoverable until their staleness is discovered
Again the filesystem could be written to track this quite easily.

Overwriting data to securely erase it is expensive on a desktop and approaching impossible on a busy server
First, bull. Second, not all data needs to be overwritten. Not all data even needs to be fully erased as delinking will be "good enough". Why is there no option to delete accounts from web services? Are you going to try and say that they just forgot?

That's not the way filesystems work
You've clearly demonstrated that you don't know jack about how filesystems work.

Re:You can't (2, Insightful)

growse (928427) | more than 6 years ago | (#19461025)

Bear in mind that if they offsite any tape backups, for them legally to have deleted your profile they'll have had to track down every single tape with your data on it and erase your data from that tape without disturbing the other contents of the tape. Similar story for any other sort of redundancy/replication/backup. If they don't do this, they still have your data. It's not as simple as an 'rm' command at a shell.

Any large company that runs a datacentre has a really fecking expensive time actually removing a specific piece of data from it's premises. And because no company is 100% efficient with it's documentation, it can never be 100% sure that it's actually gone when it thinks it is.

Re:You can't (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460743)

Google themselves have said that because of the way GFS works they can *NEVER* know when a piece of data flagged for deletion is actually no longer recoverable. That fault tolerance and redundancy is built into the design.


Umm. I would suggest that being unaware of the state of a piece of data on your file system is more or less the exact opposite of fault tolerance and redundancy.

But I guess if Google says it, it must be ok.

However I think the point is is that one should be able to say "I don't want to receive my email at gmail.com any longer." And so you submit your request and google goes out and deletes any online storage, bounces any new email (for the next 180 days or so), and has a set of standard operating processes such that any offline storage will eventually (in some reasonable number of days, 90-180) be rotated back into the tape drives and overwritten with new backups. Additionally, barring a subpoena, no one recovers your account from tape or other offline storage. Basically, my stance is if you request to have your data deleted, they delete it from any readily accessable disk and let it be overwritten on tape. At no point do they make a point of archiving your data into their personal archives for whatever profit chasing activity they may get up to.

Look, Google is a bunch of jerks. This was confirmed when it became known that the digital copies of public domain books that they are getting from Stanford and the University of California are not allowed to be duplicated in bulk. Eg. they gave the universities digital scans of the books but only under the terms that no one is allowed to access them in any broad fashion.

delete personal data (2)

green pizza (159161) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460463)

I would love to see an option on those sites to delete my personal data. Then again, they could just use that button to trigger some sort of permanent data rentention, because, after all, only bad people want privacy.

Re:delete personal data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460495)

A button like that would be illegal in quite some countries.

Re:A suggestion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460471)

Google last year successfully fought a U.S. Justice Department
No, Google WAS [msn.com] NOT [forbes.com] successful.
It's not long before 50,000 records turns into 50 million. Privacy's death by a million cuts.

Re:A suggestion... (1)

exley (221867) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460739)

And let's not forget that Google fought the Justice department not on the grounds of protecting user privacy, but on the grounds of protecting trade secrets. Although the end result is the same, I think their motivation is very important.

Re:A suggestion... (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460963)

Anyway, the subpoena was for aggregated search queries, not for anything traceable to a user. It had nothing to do with any reasonable understanding of privacy. Google just chose to spin their refusal as concern for their users.

Re:A suggestion... (5, Insightful)

TheGreatHegemon (956058) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460953)

Very nice, but how long until either Google loses some legal fight, or it simply decides not to fight?
If Google loses the legal fight to defend their data from government violations, then you should be looking at your government, not Google for the privacy violation.

Pot calls kettle black. (5, Insightful)

mooreBS (796555) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460311)

Why are these people attacking Google. Privacy and anonymity are rapidly eroding in the UK. Hello! You've got bigger privacy problems than Google if you're living there.

Re:Pot calls kettle black. (5, Insightful)

Stormx2 (1003260) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460387)

The whole "UK is a big brother society" thing is overdone. 99% of cameras are just local shops looking out for their business. Remember that the UK is densely populated and natural selection has ground the a halt; council estates breed criminals. Sure, there are a lot of cameras, but it isn't some government conspiracy that people make it out to be.

Re:Pot calls kettle black. (5, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460423)

The whole "Google is big brother" thing is overdone. 99% of logging is just statistical. Remember that google is mainly an ad firm and they rely on statistics to do their job. Sure, there are a lot of logging, but it isn't some conspiracy that people make it out to be.

Re:Pot calls kettle black. (1)

Stormx2 (1003260) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460449)

Well played. Not that by excluding Google I meant I think they're ruining our privacy

Re:Pot calls kettle black. (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460505)

it isn't some conspiracy that people make it out to be.
Well, yes, actually it is. Didn't you get the memo directly from the FBI office? Oh? You didn't? Maybe you're not on the proper mailing list. Maybe they didn't see fit to tell you about it personally.

Re:Pot calls kettle black. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460661)

Look, Google is constantly changing their algorithms and such. What this means is that most likely they are storing every little bit of possible data for future changes to the algorithms. I can just about guarantee they are not just storing aggregate statistics because if they did that they would not be able to revise their algorithms later without collecting all new information.

Somewhere in some database you can bet there is a list of every search you have done, every link you have clicked, every advertisement, every IP address, every browser, OS, CPU architecture, you have ever used. It's all there buddy. I mean hell, they are storing massive amounts of data, caching web sites, thumbnails for the image search, etc. you better believe they can store all that stuff about the user's searches because relatively speaking that is a tiny amount of data.

Re:Pot calls kettle black. (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460809)

I was not so much approving of Google as much as I was showing that anything can be dismissed similarly. I do think that google is only picked on because they are a large company, though, not because they are doing anything different than anyone else. My website used to store all that data, too. I stopped because it served no purpose and thus wasn't worth possibly having it fall into someone other than myself's hands. Millions of other sites are identical. The only difference here is that Google's user database is probably going to load faster than most...

Re:Pot calls kettle black. (4, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460801)

The whole "Google is big brother" thing is overdone. 99% of logging is just statistical.

Very funny. Statistical would imply they can't tie info back to you. When your mail, history, ip, browsing and search habits are all recorded in your exact account, it's not statistical. It's a disaster.

Google can pull all this crap out since they're so trusted by the large masses. Companies are pushed to behaving good by customers not trusting them. Google just didn't get enough of that throughout the years, and here's the result.

Funnier even, they seem to use their "goodness" as an argument here as well: the fact they fight back in court to protect that data isn't helpful. What would be helpful is that data is never collected in a way it can be abused, if god knows what happens (cracked server, loss in court, new law, insider leaking info etc etc)

Re:Pot calls kettle black. (1)

gordgekko (574109) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460731)

My apologies, is that the country that keeps track of every automobile entering London and combed through all data, fax and voice traffic years before the Bush DOJ revived the Carnivore program?

For all the screaming about the USA PATRIOT Act, I'd rather live in the U.S. than England if privacy was my concern.

Re:Pot calls kettle black. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460845)

The whole "Oceania is a big brother society" thing is overdone. 99% of the cameras are only watching people when they are doing their jobs, or when they are at home. Remember, Oceania is at war, and we must be vigilant against spies. Sure their are alot of cameras, but its not a government conspiracy, they are just protecting us.

Re:Pot calls kettle black. (1)

janrinok (846318) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460425)

Why do you say that? Because of the cameras in public places? That does not affect my privacy - because they are _public_ places. Anonymity? Well the cameras do not affect that. They can see a person but they cannot identify who that person is without someone behind the lens. That is no different than anywhere else in the world. But we in Europe do have far better data protection, by law, than many other places in the world, including the USA. Organisations are strictly controlled on what data they can collect, how long they may keep it, how it may be processed and, specifically, how it must be protected. Which is what the study is all about. The study does not believe that Google's procedures meet what is expected by European law.

Re:Pot calls kettle black. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460927)

"That does not affect my privacy - because they are _public_ places."

If that's what you think, you, sir, are an ignorant.

The problem is not if they are on public or private places but the correlation that can be gotten for those cameras.

A camera on a metro station is not hurting my privacy. A lot of cameras and a surveyllance system that can track me as I walk around is hurting my privacy, just as it would if they put a policeman on my track for no valid (as in backed up by a judge grant) reason.

Re:Pot calls kettle black. (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460477)

The UK and Europe have far stricter data protection laws than the United States and most other countries in the World. While there are definitely physical privacy issues raised by the explosion of CCTV in the UK and the security issues raised by the possiblity of National ID Cards and centralised medical record databases, that doesn't for one second mean that any other privacy issue should be overlooked or cast aside because "[we've] got bigger privacy problems". Every privacy concern should be raised and every single one of them should be fought to the bitter end. No exceptions.

Re:Pot calls kettle black. (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460523)

> Why are these people attacking Google.

Exactly! Privacy..who was that again? Let me look that up on Google...

Re:Pot calls kettle black. (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460585)

Interesting logical fallacy you have there. Do you think campaigning is some sort of zero-sum game? PI has frequently critiqued UK and European privacy policies. Just because it's home country has problematic privacy issues, does not mean it has to exclusively focus on UK privacy issues.

For the Tin Foil Hat Brigade (myself included) (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460335)

Firefox and the Customize Google extension make a good team: http://www.customizegoogle.com/ [customizegoogle.com]

Features:

        * Remove click tracking
        * Anonymize your Google userid
        * Block Google Analytics cookies

        * Secure Gmail and Google Calendar, switch to https
        * Remove ads

a good start, but....... (2)

green pizza (159161) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460443)

Good enough for ramdom google usage, but Google still has your IP address and your search habits with which to track you.

Re:For the Tin Foil Hat Brigade (myself included) (5, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460799)

Yeah, I'm the same way. When I have girls over at my place, *all* they have to do is ask about the "no sound/video recording" option, and I won't keep their data. They just never request that feature.

Re:For the Tin Foil Hat Brigade (myself included) (1)

robaal (1019298) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460899)

I don't find the anonymizing features interesting, but "streamed results" is very neat, and direct links to image sources seem pretty useful too.

Toppling the Top Guy (1, Interesting)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460369)

This is a classic trick of anti-capitalist lefties (and looking at who is on their committees, there's a whole bunch of them).

Look at how much scorn is pushed onto Starbucks, despite being quite decent to their suppliers, staff and the environment. If they were the 2nd biggest coffee shop chain in the world, the scorn would not exist.

So, Google, despite behaving a great deal better than Yahoo over privacy get nobbled.

Re:Toppling the Top Guy (3, Funny)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460415)

This is a classic trick of anti-capitalist lefties (and looking at who is on their committees, there's a whole bunch of them).
Are you aware of the fact that this makes you sound like a cold war era crazy-person? I mean, if so, feel free to continue - I just thought you might want to know.

If they were the 2nd biggest coffee shop chain in the world, the scorn would not exist.
If they made decent coffee there would be a hell of a lot less scorn for them too...

Re:Toppling the Top Guy (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460847)

Explain why they've put Google in a worse position than Yahoo, despite Yahoo being far more free with their users personal information, then.

Re:Toppling the Top Guy (1)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460999)

I'm simply suggesting that it's not a leftist conspiracy theory, still, don't let me stop you.

Re:Toppling the Top Guy (4, Funny)

mrjb (547783) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460509)

If they were the 2nd biggest coffee shop chain in the world, the scorn would not exist. I'm from the Netherlands. No starbucks at all to be found here- I guess they felt they couldn't compete with the Fine Products sold in coffee shops here :)

Re:Toppling the Top Guy (1)

Cosmic AC (1094985) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460601)

What would stop starbucks from selling pot in Holland?

Re:Toppling the Top Guy (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460627)

A bunch of soccer moms on another continent starting a consumer ban against a company supporting drug abuse?

Boys on Wheels (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460401)

Boys On Wheels...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCxDZRJKkqY [youtube.com]

Maybe off-topic, but it's awesome and I feel the need to spread it... With google and all that, hmm it's getting scary how much info is amassed and outside of our control. Ripe for abuse and corruption. So what's new about it? TOR seems like a good idea now.

Amusing... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460453)

It's amusing how people root for the underdog but start to turn against it once it gets too big. I remember a time when M$ was viewed as a hero for scoring victories over the evil IBM monopoly.

I suppose the lesson is that companies are never your friends, just allies of convenience at best. Something to remember the next time some slashbot claims comapny X will save the day because they are a friend of open source.

Re:Amusing... (3, Insightful)

mrjb (547783) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460669)

You have a point. But then what if open source gets too big?

Re:Amusing... (2, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460747)

Richard Stallman will throw his toys out of his pram, declare Open Source to be evil communism and start a new movement OAC (Obfuscated Assembly Code) and declare Obfuscated Assembly to be the one true way for source code. He demand all sources be closed but will still decry cash payment for software products and will insist on payment with body parts from the user, eg a couple of fingers to get you a spreadsheet package (you wont need those fingers to count any more anyway).

Re:Amusing... (2, Interesting)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460779)

Open source, as a concept, cannot be too big. I really feel that it's the best way to go when keep considerations such as IP, privacy, security, and flexibility in mind over the long term. One particular operating system, eg. GNU/Linux, could become too popular for itself in that exploits and political strife will outpace the benefits of greater adoption. I think it already has. Every problem which can come of a large interconnected operating system has already been encountered by Microsoft and the GNU/Linux community is rushing headlong to meet them again except, this time, they'll have an open source flavor. Time to move on to GNU/Hurd, or AROS, or something like DynatOS.

From the parent post:

It's amusing how people root for the underdog but start to turn against it once it gets too big
Hyping the underdog, milking it for profit, and then kicking it back into the dust is a game that's at least ten thousand years old. It's also a great source of entertainment.

a new risk for mankind (0, Offtopic)

Ep0xi (1093943) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460467)

I think we have a new threat to the life on earth.
The Goverment should make the extraterrestrial volcano erupt agency in order to keep a detailed log of volcanic activity in other planets, because we face the real threat that a volcano can spit magma and dust into our beloved world
and wipe all the existing life in here.
ccccooooommmmeeeee oooonnnnnnn!!!!

Don't use it if you don't like it! (-1, Troll)

PineGreen (446635) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460589)

Nobody is forced to use it!

If you are one of those privacy idiots just go and use other services. It is a public company and if people will start to leave their services en masse they will change. Otherwise they will not. As simple as that. I couldn't care less about policemen reading my e-mail or whatever you virgin retards whine about. I will happily carry on using their service...

Re:Don't use it if you don't like it! (2, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460615)

Yeah right. What are you going to use instead?

Ask Jeeves? ...didn't think so.

Re:Don't use it if you don't like it! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460647)

Nobody is forced to use it!

What about users of Opera? Doesn't google still get every URL they visit?

need to privacy is important, not retarded (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460765)

you're having it all mixed up. this is not about _you_, it is about _them_. the problem with companies like google is you don't know when you're using them. they own a lot of sites and services and probably have stake in even more, and all this data is collected, analyzed and processed by a single entity, without you knowing it, agreeing to it, or having an option to do anything at all about it.

you say you like this, and you call people "retarded" because they worry about privacy, but actually you say because you haven't thought much about it, and obviously don't have enough experience outside of the US. stop for a moment and consider -- what can happen to you personally when a powerful entity can go after you with a large profile that basically follows what you're thinking? i come from a country where everybody had a file, and the file was used to make people do things they otherwise wouldn't. i have seen what this does to people. google and the likes take it to a new level.

unless there is a general understanding that you control some parts of your life and can dispose of them as you wish, including legally limiting other people's ability to own this data, i can easily see this happening with profiles kept by information clearing houses like google. done by an agency or company near you.

Probably BS (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460653)

Reminds me of the recent Greenpeace report on Apple, mainly containing groundless claims that in the end were mainly due to Apple not trumpeting the eco-friendly things they were already doing. In this case, Google is going to have lots of user data simply because lots of people use it many times a day to search for things. I think big companies shouldn't give in to these underhanded tactics, since it only encourages more of this crap from organizations that should have more integrity.

Re:Probably BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460763)

So basically, you support Google having no restriction on what kind of information it can collect and being regulated on how that information is stored and used.

I'm going with the report on this one since its legitimate. I'm not giving Google a pass merely because they are the fanboy company of the day.

Doesn't make sense. (0, Redundant)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460657)

If I am not mistaken, Google acts merely as a pointer to information. At worst case it seems to me they only exacerbate already existing leaks in private information done by other websites. Blaming Google for this seems like blaming guns for violence. They can both be used for different things, but they don't know the difference.

Re:Doesn't make sense. (1)

Wordplay (54438) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460671)

You're forgetting the various apps like Mail that store personal information online on their servers.

Google? Hardly... (4, Insightful)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460673)

While a number of other Internet companies have troubling policies, none comes as close to Google to 'achieving status as an endemic threat to privacy,'

They've obviously never heard of LexisNexis [wikipedia.org] or Accurint [accurint.com]. Unless they consider information on what web page you visited to be more infringing than, say, your full financial history, residence, court records, marriage licenses, property deeds, loans, phone numbers (including unlisted), etc., etc. Of course, that's all "public information."

Re:Google? Hardly... (1)

rinkjustice (24156) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460939)

Let me add Acxiom [acxiom.com] to the list, the largest data mining company in the world. Acxiom, with their massive server farms, collect detailed personal information on everything from age to income and shopping habits, and divide consumer groups into one of 70 "lifestage segments". These lifestage segments might be location or hobbies, products bought, charities donated to - or all of the above. This information is purchased by the US government as well as many North American firms with products to market and sell.

Google knows a lot about what we think and do (1)

slashdotmsiriv (922939) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460945)

In reality, Google has access to everything that crosses our minds, since
this is greatly correlated to what you search and write in your
emails. The truth is that if one bad guy manages to get access to
Google's data center, he can learn everything about us.

However, Google has absolutely no right to use this information
against us in any way. This is in all respects illegal. In addition,
if something like "My employer fired me, because an ex-google employee
told him that I search for animal porn online" happens, this would
be the end of Google's business model. It would
result in 10's of billions $ in losses.

I am 100% sure that Google does whatever it is in her power to keep
your information private. They have very little to gain by going
public with our insignificant lives, but everything to lose if
they breach their privacy contract.

And btw, having a bot going through your emails and discovering
patterns is not a privacy violation. As long as no human with
malicious intend is able to harvest information that is damning for
me, Google is welcome to automatically detect my preferences and send
me relevant advertisements.

If u don't like Google, you can always switch to msn, yahoo, ask or
whatever other crappy search engine. Still, they are as likely to mine
your private data as Google.

For the paranoid, here is one cool gmail encryption firefox plugin:
http://applications.linux.com/article.pl?sid=07/05 /31/1643208&from=rss [linux.com]

Re:Google knows a lot about what we think and do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19461005)

"I am 100% sure that Google does whatever it is in her power to keep
your information private."

you want to believe. nothing will happen unless

1) there is enough _knowledge_ that information is leaking, and
2) users have enough clout to make it stick

the only safe way is the ability to see and modify your profile.

Yeah right (3, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460701)

> Google last year successfully fought a U.S. Justice Department subpoena demanding to review millions of search requests.

Yeaha. Google protects the data from the Justice Department.
But it DOESNT (and thats the point of the rating) protect the data from google itself. The google privacy idea is more or less "We are good. Thats why WE are allowed to do everything, and you WILL like it (trust us, we know you better than you do yourself)".

Re:Yeah right (1)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460863)

Why don't people ever think sensibly about this? *GOOGLE IS AN ADVERTISING COMPANY!* It's not an evil secret society that wants to ruin your life. The worst thing Google is likely to do with my personal information is to show me ads that I'm more interested in, and I personally don't see anything wrong with that.

Re:Yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19461113)

This is slashdot. Anything that's not open source is an evil secret society that wants to ruin your life.

and the grade was... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460703)

Privacy Group: We give Google the worst grade possible: A--!

clusty (0, Troll)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460741)

Clusty.com seems to have better privacy policies than google, and seems to give results of about the same quality. I use it as a matter of habit these days, except for some fancier searches, for which I need google.

Abuse of "anonymity" (3, Interesting)

Christoph (17845) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460773)

I have been sued for defamation by a Russian businessman after I wrote a webpage that criticized him. One of my witnesses claimed the Russian threatened his life. A commment was later posted on my website using an anonymizing web proxy saying the businessman was in the Russian Mafia, and implying if I win in court I might loose my life.

I issued a federal subpoena for an IP trace to find out who made this threat. It went to Affinity Internet, who is the ISP for Unipeak, an anonymizing web proxy. I later learned Unipeak was the source of the comment threatening me, but Unipeak didn't have any valid contact information and their website says they keep no traffic logs.

Further research showed the Russian, Andrew Vilenchik, was a user of Unipeak. See Vilenchik's anonymous comments. [cgstock.com]

My local police are now involved, my neighbors keep an eye on my house, and my wife and extended family are very upset about this threat, which we take seriously.

Whoo hoo! Hooray for anonymity! By all means, terrorize, threaten, steal, and engage in represehsible and illegal conduct with anonymity and impunity. I choose not to lie, cheat, or steal, but I tell the truth without anonymity and I face any consequences. By comparison, every criminal and scumbag wants anonymity.

A full description of the Lawsuit is online [cgstock.com]

Re:Abuse of "anonymity" (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460793)

By all means, terrorize, threaten, steal, and engage in represehsible and illegal conduct with anonymity and impunity
One of the ACs who plagued my journal for months was actually around town, asking the other homeless folks about me, and asking them to tell me that he was going to put me in the hospital for two months.

The police laughed about it.

Re:Abuse of "anonymity" (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460829)

That might be tough on you if people are threatening to kill you, but lets not pretend that the ONLY reason someone would want to be anonymous online is to threaten to kill people. What if I live in a country in which I do not trust my government or their agencies to protect me, indeed I suspect that my goals and theirs are diametrically opposed. Say I really like the idea of democracy but my state's dictator is rather set in his ways and would rather see anyone who advocates democracy swinging from the nearest lamp-post... Surely it would be good for me to have a way to protect myself in that situation?

Obviously this is the most extreme example (and fortunately I don't live in a country in which I fear my government), but it's a damn good reason.

Re:Abuse of "anonymity" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460883)

woo-hoo. won't anyone _THINK OF THE CHILDREN_.

can't comment on the substance of your allegations -- they could be true or not -- but throwing out the baby with the water based on anectodal evidence is hardly smart.

Re:Abuse of "anonymity" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460991)

Actually, think of the children. Would you like that somebody could track what your child does in the Internet? thank god they are still protected with some anonymity.

and, in related news, privacy international (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460795)

gets the lowest google ranking available.

How do we know Goog isn't giving up info already?? (3, Informative)

classh_2005 (855543) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460805)

Seriously, did you know...(from wikipedia) "Under FISA, any agency may require a common carrier, landlord, custodian, or other person provide them with all information, facilities, or technical assistance necessary to accomplish ongoing electronic surveillance. They must also protect the secrecy of and cause as little disruption to the ongoing surveillance effort as possible." "A common carrier is an organization that transports persons or goods, and offers its services to the general public. In contrast, private carriers do not offer a service to the public, and provide transport on an irregular or ad-hoc basis. Common carriers typically transport persons or goods according to defined routes and schedules. Airlines, railroads, bus lines, cruise ships and freight companies may be common carriers." So, if the Goog was instructed to provide info, they wouldn't be telling us.

Re:How do we know Goog isn't giving up info alread (2, Informative)

classh_2005 (855543) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460977)

Just as an aside, it's high time there was a serious effort at producing a decent open source search. Personally, I think a distributed network with anonymizing services makes the most sense. I know there are projects in existence already, but more people will have to become aware of them. Some Open Source search projects are:

http://www.majestic12.co.uk/projects/dsearch// [majestic12.co.uk]

http://www.aspseek.org/about.html// [aspseek.org]

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ebiness// [sourceforge.net]

http://www.grub.org/html/documents.php// [grub.org]

http://lucene.apache.org/nutch/bot.html// [apache.org]

I really want to see one of these projects take off, I'd tap a vein at the local plasma center to donate funds :>

Nope. Don't care. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19460819)

I couldn't care less if Google tracks my searches, my IP address, the links I follow, the web sites I visit. They provide a service, to whit, finding things I'm looking for. I don't pay them a dime directly, and they do the grunt work. If they can make a buck off of showing me advertisements that are similar to what I'm already looking for, good for them.

I guess I'm something of an anti-privacy activist. I'm sick and tired of hearing people whining about how their precious privacy should cause a hike in my insurance premiums because my insurance company can't drop them because their parents screwed up the kids' genes. And if I'm on the short end of the privacy stick, the hell with it. It's my own problem, why the hell should I expect someone else to pay my way when it's my fault. Suck it up, quit whining, and realize that nobody gives a crap what you do, just so long as it doesn't screw with anybody else. And I sure as hell expect that the onus ought to be on individuals to demonstrate that they are not, in fact, screwing with me. That's why privacy can go to hell.

And yeah, I'm posting Anonymous Coward because I know of all the folks on here who seem to make it their own damn business to try to regulate how I think. I don't care if you know what I think, I'll be glad to tell you, but I'm sure as hell not going to put up with the sanctimonious sacks of BS who seem to think that anyone who doesn't subscribe to their particular creed of "Privacy is teh Answer!" crap.

This seems hilarious... (2, Insightful)

Darundal (891860) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460887)

...that a group based IN THE UK is giving anybody a grade on privacy, considering how much respect the government down there has for it.

Yes (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460925)

Well, if Privacy International says it's so, then it must be so!
I mean, they're Privacy International for cripe's sake. That's at least 20% better than just Privacy National. Just because I had never heard of them until today is irrelevant.

Does it apply the same to its employees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19461037)

If Google thinks scanning the mail is fair and keeping logs of everything you do is fair, does it use the same for its employees' @google.com accounts? After all, as long as it is statistically tracking, that is useful info too.

PS: Posting AC because I already moderated some comments in this discussion
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