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Patriot Act Haunts Google Service

ScuttleMonkey posted about 6 years ago | from the patriot-act-so-good-at-making-friends dept.

Google 277

The Globe and Mail has an interesting piece taking a look at Google's latest headache, the US Government. Many people are suddenly deciding to spurn Google's services and applications because it opens up potential avenues of surveillance. "Some other organizations are banning Google's innovative tools outright to avoid the prospect of U.S. spooks combing through their data. Security experts say many firms are only just starting to realize the risks they assume by embracing Web-based collaborative tools hosted by a U.S. company, a problem even more acute in Canada where federal privacy rules are at odds with U.S. security measures."

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277 comments

Not good enough (5, Funny)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | about 6 years ago | (#22850058)

Spurning these services will mark you out for further surveillance straight away.

Have they never read Crime and Punishment?

Re:Not good enough (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22850104)

I would, but I am afraid to check it out from the library and get added to the terrorist watch list.

Re:Not good enough (4, Informative)

CodeBuster (516420) | about 6 years ago | (#22850788)

It is sad, but that is precisely what used to happen in the old days of the Soviet Union except then it was the list of "enemies of the people". One might reasonably ask what the "wrong book" is doing in the library if checking it out gets one's name put onto the list of "enemies of the people" but such questions are invariably ignored in pursuit of "the enemies of the people". The punishment continued even after one had served time in the form of a wolf ticket [wikipedia.org] and being sent to the 101st kilometer [wikipedia.org]. It is scary to think that certain types of ex-criminals are effectively getting the same treatment today in the United States.

Re:Not good enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22850212)

ME estas queriendo decir que Google, no puede leer nada de mis archivos, si yo no quisiera usar sus herramientas, jajajaja que ilusooo jajaj

Re:Not good enough (5, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | about 6 years ago | (#22850346)

Spurning these services will mark you out for further surveillance straight away.

'Mark you out?' The fact of the matter is, everything we transmit outside of the firewall is subject to surveillance these days. And most companies have no clue how much of their data is crossing the firewall every day.

I don't know why people are getting their knickers in a knot over Google, when the main problem lies with the US backbone carriers, who - with only one known exception - have opened their networks to constant and widespread monitoring by US security agencies. Google at very least had the guts to fight a public legal battle with the Feds over release of even sanitised data.

The story here may be the danger to companies when they bring these companies inside the firewall, but again, refusing to trust Google is a funny place to start enforcing data integrity. The plain and simple fact is that the greatest threat of corporate data leaks is from staff who, whether through sins of omission or commission, carry sensitive data on laptops, thumb drives, CDs without any protections whatsoever.

I'd like to believe that data protection regimes are so advanced in these companies that the potential threat posed by Google and other online services is the main concern, but I find that impossible to do. I have to conclude, therefore that this is nothing more than a tiny kernel of truth wrapped in chocolatey FUD-ness that PHBs and corporate counsel love so much.

Re:Not good enough (1, Insightful)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | about 6 years ago | (#22850390)

'Mark you out?' The fact of the matter is, everything we transmit outside of the firewall is subject to surveillance these days. And most companies have no clue how much of their data is crossing the firewall every day.
I was simply saying that boycotting something most people do raises a question mark against you as surely as more obvious, 'incriminating' behaviour. At least, it would if I was in charge.

Re:Not good enough (3, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | about 6 years ago | (#22850436)

I was simply saying that boycotting something most people do raises a question mark against you as surely as more obvious, 'incriminating' behaviour. At least, it would if I was in charge.

Point taken.

... And I'm really glad you're not in charge. 8^)

Re:Not good enough (4, Insightful)

dwalsh (87765) | about 6 years ago | (#22850704)

I don't know why people are getting their knickers in a knot over Google, when the main problem lies with the US backbone carriers, who - with only one known exception - have opened their networks to constant and widespread monitoring by US security agencies.


Who dat?

Re:I Propose (5, Interesting)

protolith (619345) | about 6 years ago | (#22850594)

I propose Google Subpoena Gpoena - A searchable database of all of the gov't data requests and all associated legal documents, especially what is being requested and why.

The snooping would be greatly curtailed if there was no anonymity for a snooping govt. If every request was made naked in front of the teeming millions only the most vital info requests would occur.

Request for serches from machine No 000.000.000.0000 in relation to ongoing criminal investigation associated with charges of ... ... ... ... would seem legit.

Request for all machines that searched for "TSA" , "Liquid" , and "explosive" for ongoing terrorist investigation would suddenly seem quite dubious without better specifics.

Time for google.ca? (3, Interesting)

argent (18001) | about 6 years ago | (#22850074)

Time for Google to move to Vancouver?

Only terrorists host files abroad! (5, Funny)

Digestromath (1190577) | about 6 years ago | (#22850216)

In this day and age, anyone who 'hides' thier data beyond the reach of America's patriotic government data mining operations is a cut and clear terrorist! Whether it be in some dank and dusty cave in the mountains of Afghanistan, or a climate controlled secure facility in Canada.

Uncle Sam says "Do your part, keep data in America!"

When you host abroad, your hosting with Osama!

Privacy is for the unpatriotic!

Re:Only terrorists host files abroad! (3, Funny)

dgatwood (11270) | about 6 years ago | (#22850330)

I hope the person who modded this insightful understands that this is irony. I hope that this is irony. If either of those two hopes turn out to be unfounded, I will likely lose what little faith I have remaining in humanity....

Re:Only terrorists host files abroad! (1)

node 3 (115640) | about 6 years ago | (#22850628)

Resting your faith in humanity on two random slashdotters? You shall become a cynic in 3, 2, 1...

Re:Time for google.ca? (4, Interesting)

Ogive17 (691899) | about 6 years ago | (#22850262)

I think the bigger issue is how much information google is actually storing. I don't care if Canada's government respects the individual's privacy more.. the temptation is there for future abuse.

I'm not one that usually gets paranoid and I hate conspiracy theories.. but google worries me. Even if they never do anything wrong as a company, it just takes one person with bad intentions to make all that information public.

There is something wrong with a company that wants to be everything to everyone. (look at Microsoft)

Re:Time for google.ca? (4, Interesting)

Sancho (17056) | about 6 years ago | (#22850698)

Since the article is about collaboration tools (like Google Docs and mail), I certainly hope that Google is storing the relevant information!

As for other information (such as who is searching for what), well they're probably not storing significantly more than Yahoo or MSN. Google's just one of the more popular targets because they're pretty highly visible.

The Patriot act says that, under certain circumstances, a service provider may not notify its customers that they've released their records. That's one of the biggest issues here--companies want to know if their documents are being viewed.

Re:Time for google.ca? (4, Funny)

jo42 (227475) | about 6 years ago | (#22850438)

Someone should tell the US Gooberment that all their Crackberry©(tm) e-mail traffic goes through a data center in Canada, eh? See how fast The Bushies and Their Henchmen annex The Great White North, eh?

Re:Time for google.ca? (2, Interesting)

xmedar (55856) | about 6 years ago | (#22850770)

Cayman Islands would be better, make Google a bank there and users account holders (with a zero balance of course) and all the data would be covered by the Caymans banking laws, any snooping would get the perp extradited and charged with breaking the bank secrecy laws.

Patriot Act (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22850084)

From what Yahoo [yahoo.com] is reporting, the Patriot Act went to shit a long time ago.

Don't keep logs (4, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | about 6 years ago | (#22850112)

There's no reason why Google (et al) need keep logs of who's doing what. Websites keep logs largely to trace attacks, don't they? Can't they have a standard EFF-approved `we keep logs for 24 hours` policy, after which time they're removed permanently?

Re:Don't keep logs (1)

innerweb (721995) | about 6 years ago | (#22850176)

Look for legislation with a rider that excuses Google from any information sharing with government caretakers.

InnerWeb

Re:Don't keep logs (3, Funny)

innerweb (721995) | about 6 years ago | (#22850252)

Ack... Proofread your posts!!!

Look for legislation with a rider that excuses Google from any legal liabilities for information sharing with government caretakers.

Though, I would prefer the wording of my first post.

InnerWrb

Re:Don't keep logs (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | about 6 years ago | (#22850562)

Didn't proofread it again, did you :)

[John]

Re:Don't keep logs (1)

innerweb (721995) | about 6 years ago | (#22850692)

lol!

Probably not. I am trying to cram my /.ing in between compilations and editing of a database for a commerce catalog. now, that gets proofread.. though my posts suffer.

InnerWeb

Re:Don't keep logs (4, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 years ago | (#22850356)

There's no reason why Google (et al) need keep logs of who's doing what.

Ok, how naive are you?

Websites keep logs largely to trace attacks, don't they?

That's one element of it, but for most sites its a minor element. Most sites keep logs to trace where users are going, how they are using the site, etc.

Most site-admins are interested in where users are going on the site, how they get their, where they leave, how they arrive, how long they spend on each page, etc. They want to know which pages are popular, they want to know at which stage people usually abandon their shopping cart, etc, etc.

They generally want to make the site more effective, and logs (and analysis of those logs) are a primary tool.

Google, of course, being an ADVERTISNG company first and foremost, is further interested in logs in order to generate profiles, to attach your surfing habits to demographics. They want to know how old your are, what your interests are, how much you make, your ethnicity, level of education, etc. Now, getting that from one site would be nearly impossible. But when you consider that every site that has 'ads by google' on it, is doing its best to track you, they actually CAN get a lot of that information with a high degree of accuracy.

These logs are valuable. If they develop a new algorithm to extract new information they can run it against their logs and pull out that additional information.

And with google its not just -logs-, its content. Google apps like gmail, groups, documents, maps, store your content. So now they have your content (your email messages, your text documents and spreadhseets + a good chunk of your browsing history, possibly including what you've bought online... or at least what you've added to shopping carts, etc.

Google isn't in business to provide you with free useful applications. The value to google of google docs and gmail is to be able to data mine the content to generate profile information.

Can't they have a standard EFF-approved `we keep logs for 24 hours` policy, after which time they're removed permanently?

Even if they -would- delete your logs after 24 hours (They won't without a huge fight.) that still doesn't address the issue of google hosting (and data mining) your content, not to mention the risk they might turn it over to the us government if they ask.

Re:Don't keep logs (-1, Offtopic)

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Not just Canada... (4, Informative)

uid7306m (830787) | about 6 years ago | (#22850114)

Yup. In the UK, here, the Data Protection Act makes it legally dubious to put anyone else's data onto Google. Here, there's a responsibilty to protect personal data.

Re:Not just Canada... (2, Informative)

26199 (577806) | about 6 years ago | (#22850168)

You could replace the word "Google" in that sentence with the name of any other company. You can't just randomly give out personal data to anyone if you're following UK law.

If it's part of doing business and done properly, you can do it. It's standard that when the recipient is an American company there is a "safe harbour" agreement that requires they follow the provisions of the Data Protection Act.

The question is, do crazy US laws make it impossible for US companies to respect the privacy of their customers?

Probably. Ho hum.

Re:Not just Canada... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 6 years ago | (#22850580)

"The question is, do crazy US laws make it impossible for US companies to respect the privacy of their customers?"

Actually, companies respecting the privacy of their customers, it a bit of a new thing, and not observed by all of them. Many companies make a GREAT deal of money gathering, storing and selling data like this. This company [acxiom.com] has made tons of money over there years gathering and buying data from all sorts of companies, to market, sell...and use to clean other company's databases.

Re:Not just Canada... (1)

innerweb (721995) | about 6 years ago | (#22850198)

There is a responsibility to protect data in the US as well. That is why Homeland Security spends os much time gathering it. They have to make sure your information is clean, and then arrest oyu and stop you from making it more unclean if you seem to be doing so.

Oh, yeah, they do go after criminals as well, especially the ones not in power or unable to come up with the right campaign contributions.

InnerWeb

Re:Not just Canada... (0)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | about 6 years ago | (#22850240)

I'm in the UK too- the merest mention of 'national security' is enough to render your rights under the Data Protection Act null and void.

You didn't think it would be that easy?

Geography, politics and RIM (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 6 years ago | (#22850430)

Yup. In the UK, here, the Data Protection Act makes it legally dubious to put anyone else's data onto Google. Here, there's a responsibilty to protect personal data.

The truth is, if your provider is in a foreign country, then you should expect that the government can do whatever they want with its hardware - this about territory and not constitution. At the same time your own government is probably going make laws which suits themselves about the data you access. How this mess sorts itself out depends on the government of the day. As an individual you just need to remember that things are complicated when your government is involved and more complicated when you also have another government involved. Many people don't think of geography when it comes to the internet, but sometimes it makes itself apparent when politics gets involved.

This reminds me of RIM, since their servers are located in Canada. The French government asked their ministers not use Blackberries [bbc.co.uk], because data was being handled outside of France and therefore outside of French jurisdiction. If RIM had servers in France, then I am sure there would have been more reassurance.

If there is anything you need to be paranoid about, host it yourself!

Re:Not just Canada... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 6 years ago | (#22850624)

To be fair - it's legally dubious to put anyone's data on any computer not directly and physically controlled by the organization charged with maintaining the data. I.E., it's not just Google.
 
But being honest and answering fully doesn't let you get in a gratuitous attack on the US government.

PGP (4, Interesting)

Rinisari (521266) | about 6 years ago | (#22850116)

Perfect time to consider PGP.

http://firegpg.tuxfamily.org/ [tuxfamily.org]

Re:PGP (3, Interesting)

26199 (577806) | about 6 years ago | (#22850244)

That would be when nasty laws that allow law enforcement to demand cryptographic keys come into play.

These days encryption just makes you a target. Clearly the way forward is steganography :)

Re:PGP (3, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 years ago | (#22850272)

It's sad that a decade ago the use of PGP--or at least the possession of a PGP key--was de rigeur among nerds, and now it seems that few nerds know much about encryption. Even if you don't want to harangue all your friends about using it with you, you could at least put a public key on your website and on keyserver so that people have the choice of sending you encrypted correspondence.

Tragically PGP is too hard to use (4, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about 6 years ago | (#22850314)

Perfect time to consider PGP.
When you can figure out a way to make public key encryption so easy even my mother can use it I'll be happy to try. I'd love to use it but the person on the other end of the message has to be willing to try too. I haven't found anyone I correspond with yet willing to jump through the hoops required. Maybe you've had better luck than I have.

Never mind the fact that almost no one except serious geeks have even heard of, much less actually understands, public key encryption.

Re:Tragically PGP is too hard to use (1)

Chemisor (97276) | about 6 years ago | (#22850780)

> When you can figure out a way to make public key encryption so easy even my mother can use it I'll be happy to try.

Try enigmail [mozdev.org].

Privacy is an illusion (5, Insightful)

rbanzai (596355) | about 6 years ago | (#22850128)

The war over privacy in the U.S. was fought during the last eight years and common people lost. Nothing is secure. No information is out of reach of any government agency that decides it wants it, and there are no legal protections. Laws are in place now to make sure that our old image of privacy can never be restored, no matter what the current presidential candidates might claim. They don't us t have that privacy back because it does not serve their purpose.

The war was fought. We lost. I don't blame people from other nations for being concerned but if they haven't already lost privacy where they live they soon will, and it isn't coming back.

Re:Privacy is an illusion (2, Insightful)

tmosley (996283) | about 6 years ago | (#22850298)

Just remember that the American people have not yet begun to fight!

The only question is, WILL they fight?

Re:Privacy is an illusion (1)

BlankStare (709795) | about 6 years ago | (#22850312)

I wonder what led us to believe that transmitting information over ANY infrastructure that is owned and operated by either publicly traded mega-corporations or our government could EVER be private? In the case of large corporations and govenment collusion, Dwight Eisenhour warned us in the 50's about the power of the military-industrial complex. And DARPA started the Internet. Big Money operates and maintains the infrastructure of the Internet. It is not and never has been an altruistic benefactor of the public good. It currently exists to further the profit motive. If we believe that we can truly rely upon the Internet to connect freedom loving people so that they can exchange ideas and information, we will be sorely surprised the first time our government decides that these activities have become threatening to the status-quo.

Don't be evil? (1)

DJ Jones (997846) | about 6 years ago | (#22850136)

I think google should to take a closer look at their motto and reevaluate their cooperation with the U.S. government.

"If I must choose between righteousness and peace, I choose righteousness."

Re:Don't be evil? (1)

Higaran (835598) | about 6 years ago | (#22850214)

As much as you want to you don't mess with the government, yes you may be able to get one or two crooked politicans out of office, but if the federal government really wants you to do something you eventually will do it, or bankrupt because of the IRS or in jail for obstruction of justice or some other reason.

Re:Don't be evil? (4, Interesting)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | about 6 years ago | (#22850538)

Can you imagine what Google could really do if they were utterly unscrupulous about manipulating the political process in their favor?

Every politician who crossed them would have every possible scandal associated with them come up on the front search page whenever somebody was looking for info about them. Politicians who did what Google told them to would have all their scandals banished to the 300th page.

Muck-raking reporters would be mysteriously signed up for Google Alerts on Google-hostile politicians, and might "mysteriously" receive private documents from the hard drives of those politicians & their interns who happen to be running the "Google Desktop" toolbar.

Or some hacker might "discover" how to get the search histories of selected politicians, and suddenly the politician has to explain why he keeps searching for child porn photos.

Huh??? (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 6 years ago | (#22850306)

While I am not one of the Google faithful I must say that your criticism is at best miss placed.
Google has fought when the US government wanted them to turn over customer records in the past. They do not seem to cooperate with the US government anymore than is required by law. Anytime you use a hosted service you loose some privacy. Once the data leaves your systems you have lost some privacy and control.

If you want to scream at Google for not living up to there "Don't be evil" line. I suggest that there following US laws it far less evil than their good relationship with China.

"Patriot" act (4, Interesting)

iamacat (583406) | about 6 years ago | (#22850144)

What is so patriotic about passing laws that will eventually put US companies out of business in the era of hosted applications while terrorists will simply move their sites abroad?

Re:"Patriot" act (4, Insightful)

Fjandr (66656) | about 6 years ago | (#22850186)

I think the problem is assuming that Congresscritters are patriotic on the whole or that they have any thoughts outside of ensuring their own re-election.

All they have to do is shout "Think of the children" or "We need this to fight terrorism" and the majority who have no interest in delving into the consequences of any given action will line up behind them like good little citizens.

Re:"Patriot" act (5, Insightful)

Sperbels (1008585) | about 6 years ago | (#22850370)

All they have to do is shout "Think of the children" or "We need this to fight terrorism" and the majority who have no interest in delving into the consequences of any given action will line up behind them like good little citizens.
That'll only work for so long. Then they'll need a new boogey man to scare the shit out of everyone. It's almost amusing sometimes to watch old movies to see how our nation's top boogey man evolves... right now I'm thinking of Back to the Future. During that era, the boogey men were Libyans. They used to be Russians, and Germans/Japanese before that, and now it's Al Qaida. Is there ever a time when we don't single out someone as the enemy and use them as an excuse to gain more control of the domestic population? I guess I just hate freedom...don't listen to me.

Re:"Patriot" act (3, Insightful)

robertjw (728654) | about 6 years ago | (#22850684)

I think the problem is assuming that Congresscritters are patriotic on the whole or that they have any thoughts outside of ensuring their own re-election.


I really think most people in Congress try to do the right thing. A police state, in theory, is SAFER than a free society. If we all lived in a supermax prison, had our nutritional balanced meals fed to us every day, had a mandated exercise program, forced healthcare and bars on the door we'd probably all live a lot longer.

Problem is this country was based on liberty, but freedom comes with a lot of risk and responsibilities. When people are free to do what they want there are a certain segment that will abuse those freedoms by blowing up buildings or shooting people in college classrooms. Unfortunately, most people don't want to be free, they want to be safe, and Congress tries to do what the people want. Historically, this is how cultures survived. Rulers came to power because they could protect their citizens. Sure, they got rich and powerful in the process, but why shouldn't they. They were protecting their people.

The Patriot Act is just another method to keep people safe. Until the average Joe decides he would rather be free than safe, the oppression will continue.

Re:"Patriot" act (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22850224)

Nothing. If it was truly patriotic, there'd be no need to label it as such.

It's just like with used car dealers: there's a reason so many are called "Honest Jon" and so on. If they truly were honest, they wouldn't have to flaunt it like that.

Re:"Patriot" act (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 6 years ago | (#22850396)

Absolutely, I often say the same about the word "professional". If you feel the need to call yourself a professional [insert occupation here], you almost certainly are not (with the possible exception of professional athletes since sports is so rarely a profession). This applies doubly for product descriptions, e.g. "Try our new professional-grade Blend-O-Matic." This doesn't apply to product names, though, since "Pro" is commonly used to distinguish between different product variants.

But I digress.

Unbelieveable! (5, Informative)

Flakeloaf (321975) | about 6 years ago | (#22850148)

You mean, if I enter personal information on a free web server run by some organization whose business model is the harvesting and sale of personal information, that my personal information might not be kept private?

Horror of horrors.

Re:Unbelieveable! (1, Informative)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about 6 years ago | (#22850342)

Since when is Google an

organization whose business model is the harvesting and sale of personal information
?

I could accept the argument that "processing your private emails to better qualify my search engine results" could be considered "harvesting" but I wasn't aware that Google in any but the weirdest and most remote sense "sold" the information they collected.

Yes, they effectively "sell" the results of the analysis of what they collect, but that is not the same thing at all.

Otherwise I've got this "analysis" of 100tons of Pure Gold I'd like to sell you, bargain prices ;-)

Re:Unbelieveable! (4, Informative)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | about 6 years ago | (#22850422)

Just in case you're serious (or someone else suffers from the misconception embodied in your post):

The issue here is not with users voluntarily using Google services (search, gmail, etc.). Rather it is with companies who want to outsource their data needs to Google. In addition to the visible public products that Google has, it also offers corporate solutions: for instance if a company wants to outsource their email system, or have Google run search and collaborative software for use inside the company.

Google is trying hard to make these new kinds of products work. But unfortunately U.S. laws mean that any data that ends up on Google servers can be snooped by U.S. authorities. Many companies don't like the idea that the U.S. government will have such broad access to their data. In many countries where strong privacy laws exist (Canada, U.K., etc.), allowing the data to be managed by a U.S. company would then actually be illegal--since the company couldn't guarantee integrity or privacy of the data.

The end result of this is that Google is at disadvantage in the global marketplace because of the over-reaching U.S. laws. Google isn't the only one, of course: I'm sure U.S. companies have been losing lots of contracts because international businesses are wary of storing or moving data through U.S. systems since it is now well-known that such systems are not immune to U.S. government monitoring or interference.

How did google get singled out? (5, Insightful)

joeflies (529536) | about 6 years ago | (#22850162)

ever look at the kind of data stored in an online CRM, like salesforce.com? complete sales records, every email to every client, all the product defect issues. Maybe the SEC and the IRS may decide to look at raw data and not wait for the auditor report to come back.

Re:How did google get singled out? (1)

scubamage (727538) | about 6 years ago | (#22850220)

Why is it that decent posts like this get rated down? Stupid mods.
I do agree.. google isn't the only one that keeps large stores of information and records - only google has their business modeled around storing and manipulating this data.

Re:How did google get singled out? (1)

Clansman (6514) | about 6 years ago | (#22850384)

They weren't singled out. TFA is just saying that, because of the law, some users are getting wary. The example in the article is a university that happened to use Google. What made it news worthy is that they themselves recommended to their own users not to transmit secrets. Some of their users are hacked off because they expect a secure network.

Not a conspiracy against google ...

C

Here is What is Coming : (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22850172)

This is the new future of Software. Everything will be online. Welcome back to the days of mainframe computing, and paying for services by the minute/email/etc.

Sure, there will be 'Free' services, but be prepared to pay for those in exchange for giving up marketing data.

Think about it, on-line services eliminate piracy, people pay for the services they use.

It works for cellphones, and people accept it.

It works for on-line games, and people accept it.

The Microsoft X-Box , and X-Box 360, and basically test-cases for super-locked down PC's.

Get ready to slowly relinquish control over your PC.

p2p (2)

jamshid (140925) | about 6 years ago | (#22850180)

If I exchange an email, link, song, or video with my friend, why does that have to be a marketing opportunity for some company?

I'm on the Internet, my friend is on the Internet, we should be able to communicate directly, privately, and securely. Sure, unless we have a 24/7 connection, we'll need some intermediate place to store the data, but we shouldn't need anything more than a dumb bitshifter for that.

I don't want to rent my eyeballs to google or anyone else. Yes, I know private person-to-person communication is possible today, I'm just saying it should be the norm.

We discuss these problems with google and facebook providing users adequate security from snooping by governments, corporations, crooks, and perverts, but I think we miss the bigger point that we shouldn't be relying on third party servers to communicate with each other.

Conspiracy (1, Funny)

Hao Wu (652581) | about 6 years ago | (#22850182)

I'm not worried about Google enabling or cooperating with the government. I'm worried that Google IS the government... maybe the FBI/NSA/CIA.

Some people say the same about Microsoft.

Re:Conspiracy (4, Funny)

db32 (862117) | about 6 years ago | (#22850442)

I can debunk this one easily.

Google works as advertised and works well.

You name one government service that has ever worked as advertised or worked well.

Clearly, Google is too productive and effective to be a government thing.

Ah, there it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22850190)

From the FTA, "But the Mountain View, Calif.-based company will not discuss how often government agencies demand access to its customers' information or whether content on its new Web-based collaborative tools has been the subject of any reviews under the Patriot Act."

And since they will not discuss, no one will ever know.

Do no evil, while commendable, does not mean they are actively resisting evil. Just that THEY THEMSELVES (GOOG) are doing no evil... the guys all dressed in black from .gov sifting through your data, well we don't know what they are doing and we don't even know if they were really here but if they were we are not sure if they are doing evil... BUT WE CAN ASSURE YOU WE AREN'T!!!

"All that is required for evil to flourish is for good men to sit idly by and do nothing."

Typical Near-Sighted Govt Policies (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about 6 years ago | (#22850200)

  • use Hosted-App-Services from US Based Company ==> Get Spied Upon via Patriot Act
  • use Hosted-App-Services from Al-Qaeda ==> Get Spied Upon via Patriot Act
Where is SeaLand [sealandgov.org] when you need them?

Re:Typical Near-Sighted Govt Policies (0, Redundant)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about 6 years ago | (#22850234)

And before you all whine that there's other hosted-app-services other than those supplied by Al-Qaeda the fact remains that the US considers all foreign services to be potentially hosted-by/supporting "the terrorists" - and therefore are worthy of "spying upon".

About Time They Realized (1)

BountyX (1227176) | about 6 years ago | (#22850238)

Now if only the public would realize that all those webmail services generally do not delete your emails even after you delete them from trash...

After 180 days in the U.S., email messages lose their status as a protected communication under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and become just another database record. This means that a subpoena instead of a warrant is all that's needed to force Google to produce a copy.
 
Given that google is sleeping with the CIA (Keyhole anyone?), I think centralization of this sort is just plain evil. Data should remain decentrailized and private especially things like email.

Corporate Espionage? (5, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 6 years ago | (#22850258)

Many people are suddenly deciding to spurn Google's services and applications because it opens up potential avenues of surveillance.

Um, how about corporate espionage? Nothing, absolutely nothing, stops Google from harvesting everything they can get their hands on- and they have the storage systems and human expertise to do it.

Case and point: I emailed a link to a wiki I had just set up to 3 people, two of whom had Gmail accounts. A spider from Google hit the page hours before anyone else did, hitting the wiki just after I emailed the link out. There were no public links to the site, and no referral URL.

So, let's see: processing your email to show you relevant ads? Check. Processing email to feed URLs to their spider? Check. What else does Google do with your email? Wouldn't it be the greatest tool in their quivver- the "God Google"? Sit down with HipWebShit.com, then an hour after the meeting and see a)How many people search/click on links for HipWebShit b)Who from HipWebShit.com has sent gmail users email (and what it says...), c)Who is talking about HipWebShit from/to a Gmail account period (ie general "valley buz"?

Hint: why do you think Google has so many PhDs? It starts getting creepy when you realize that Google seems to work very hard to keep their employees inside the google campus as much as possible, how secretive their operations are (seriously, nobody can compete with them anymore- it's not like they're guarding the henhouse for competition reasons) and how cult-like the atmosphere is...

Re:Corporate Espionage? (5, Funny)

hxnwix (652290) | about 6 years ago | (#22850514)

It starts getting creepy when you realize that Google seems to work very hard to keep their employees inside the google campus as much as possible, how secretive their operations are (seriously, nobody can compete with them anymore- it's not like they're guarding the henhouse for competition reasons) and how cult-like the atmosphere is
More sympathetically: if you keep the workers at work, they work more. However, I can't discount your view completely. Perhaps they really are preparing their worker bees for the transfer to the comet hale bop UFO, and if you are correct, they'd want to hold those workers close to their incorporeal breast so that word of this lunacy doesn't spread beyond the compound confines.

I emailed a link to a wiki I had just set up to 3 people, two of whom had Gmail accounts. A spider from Google hit the page...
Oh my gord. They sent a digital arachnid!?

Hint: why do you think Google has so many PhDs?
I don't know. Because they're employing Dr. Evil(s)?

Re:Corporate Espionage? (5, Interesting)

PS3Penguin (1048518) | about 6 years ago | (#22850528)

Or .. its how the gmail anit-smap system tries to find and filter out spam / virus links by tasting what links are sent to gmail recipients and looking for known exploits / spam / etc. Sorry if that was tin-foil-hatted enough :)

Re:Corporate Espionage? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 6 years ago | (#22850544)

Meh, we see google stand up for protection of privacy and other good things waaaaay more often than most companies. I don't see the point in bitching about the guys acting suspicious while the competition is at about the same corruption level as US congressmen.

NSA (1)

hhawk (26580) | about 6 years ago | (#22850310)

Of course it is reasonable that the US Government could have been one of early funders of google, but then generally government are not that smart.

database =! security (3, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | about 6 years ago | (#22850320)

the Mountain View, Calif.-based company will not discuss how often government agencies demand access to its customers' information or whether content on its new Web-based collaborative tools has been the subject of any reviews under the Patriot Act


Google isn't doing nearly enough to keeps its users informed about privacy issues. A press release saying "We're doing everything we can" isn't nearly good enough from the company that wants to organize all the world's information.

If anything, the federal law enforcement should be watching Google to ensure they aren't violating their user's privacy.

Part of me is hopeful that eventually the misguided people in government who think you can fight terrorism with a database will learn and change. Not everyone in the government is as evil as Bush/Rove/Cheney. If databases stopped terrorism, we wouldn't have had 9/11...at least one person on each of the 9/11 planes was on the terrorist watch list (in the database).

File/Info sharing (1)

ludomancer (921940) | about 6 years ago | (#22850336)

I'm adamantly against this new society of surveillance, but I also enjoy the freedom that the internet has blessed our generation with. What would be an acceptable meeting point to me, is if governments around the world could help themselves to all the info they can eat, but they and every other corporate entity should have to lay off file sharing and free distribution of knowledge and information online.

It has to go both ways to work, but at least we level things out a bit!

In-Q-Tel (3, Informative)

triffidsting (594096) | about 6 years ago | (#22850340)

Surely it helps their cause that Google was originally partly funded by the venture capital investment arm of the CIA (In-Q-Tel)... Are people just now becoming wise to this, or did they just forget?

One-click away from jail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22850378)

Clicking on *A SINGLE LINK* [arstechnica.com] just once could land you in jail in the US -- even if you have no idea where that link was going to take you.

Why NOT move the corporations off-shore? (1)

Hemispheres (970100) | about 6 years ago | (#22850386)

This has been mentioned in a few comments here, but not thoroughly discussed...why is there not yet a foreign competitor to Google et al? It would seem that a company that offers comparable services and can guarantee that the feds can't get their dirty little fingers on our data (legitimately, at least) would be able to find a market.

POP/SMTP Lets Anyone Read Your E-Mail (1, Interesting)

da' WINS pimp (213867) | about 6 years ago | (#22850404)

From TFA:

"Mr. Puk says teachers want an in-house system that doesn't let third parties see their e-mails."

Then screw GMail, they better be using encryption anyway! I know most here know this, but someone needs to hit the author and this school's faculty with the clue stick. If you are just using a plain old POP/SMTP client without encryption anyone with access to a packet sniffer can read your email at any point along the route, whether it be in the US or Canada. Its is amazing (read: scary) the number of folks in IT and computer science who don't know this. While we are at it maybe the Canadians better stop using all other unencrypted protocols too...

Haunting eh? (2, Funny)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | about 6 years ago | (#22850416)

I pulled off the rubber mask, and it turns out it was old man Cheney, the creepy vice president!

Now to get out of here before the FBI find my Scooby Snacks. Scoobydoobiedooooo!!

Huh?! (1)

eyenot (102141) | about 6 years ago | (#22850462)

Am I the only person who doesn't mind if the government is watching me?

x Shower (HELLO!)

x Search history (HELLO AGENT XXXX: DO WE SHARE SIMILAR TASTES? ASL)

x Email (IS MY ABILITY TO BE BORINGLY VERBOSE YET SOMEHOW CONCISE INTRIGUING TO YOU?)

It is the new egotism on the brink of waiting to happen: getting a kick out of being watched.

Re:Huh?! (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 6 years ago | (#22850576)

So, you're a loyal supporter of the government, who refrains from doing anything that could be even possibly construed as naughty?

Re:Huh?! (1)

eyenot (102141) | about 6 years ago | (#22850682)

On the contrary: since I'm loyal neither to government nor to subversives, I don't have to worry about the higher echelon of life-problems that are brought on by people questioning the soundness of one's "loyalties"; take yourself, for example. Today's slashdotter, tomorrow's waterboarder? By no far cry of the imagination!

Re:Huh?! (1)

ZenDragon (1205104) | about 6 years ago | (#22850720)

Ive always thought the same thing. haha

Ive always felt that I would revel in their confusion and intrigue with regards to the sometimes bizzare but often mundane and trivial course of my daily activities. Where I actually doing someting illegal it would be filtered through my random thought process and come out garbled and confusing, such that they likely wouldnt even know what to make of it.

In a odd, egotistical way, I would find it amusing even if I never saw the confusion it caused. Just to know that I was being watched would inspire me to no end to make it as difficult as possible to keep tabs. Yet somehow I know I would be endlessly entertained by it! lol It's like being in a movie star in the story of your own life.

Somebody watching me would honestly think Im completely insane.

An example consequence (3, Insightful)

Sara Chan (138144) | about 6 years ago | (#22850534)

From TFA:

For instance, a [university] researcher with a Middle Eastern name, researching anthrax or nuclear energy, might find himself denied entry to the United States....
It could be worse than that. He might be allowed to enter, and then be detained on the basis of Google-supplied information. Especially if he was not a Canadian citizen.

Moving out of the country and the dollar go down (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22850608)

The dollar is already week.
US government with TSA are making sure tourists don't come here.

The spying and NSL of government will make companies move out to other countries, and the dollar will go down even more.

USA have no future. It is falling.

No rule of law with data hosted in the US (5, Insightful)

farbles (672915) | about 6 years ago | (#22850630)

The trouble here is not Google, it is the fact there is no longer the rule of law with regards to data hosted in the United States. When the government can take any information they like from a server hosted in their country with no warrant, no notification, no nothing, then it's not law, it's criminal activity no matter who does it.

Here in Canada this has been a big deal now for the last couple of years. I've been at many IT meetings where tracking down what was hosted on US-based servers and removing it back to Canada has been on the agenda. We're not perfect here but we do have PIPEDA [privcom.gc.ca], the protection of privacy act, binding our ISPs. You need access to data, convince a judge and get a warrant. That's the rule of law.

That this US government data free-for-all has not been a big deal to American sysadmins has been a source of more than a little concern and confusion to us here north of the border. As long as there remains an Emperor in the White House rather than a President I guess there will be no movement on this.

Erased White House email, backups, and hard drives without penalty despite a legal court order? That's some government you guys have running there. You might want to do something about it.

Ir surpasses understanding... (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | about 6 years ago | (#22850782)

...why anyone would entrust any data of any importance at all, secret or not, to free services provided by an advertising agency. I can see using it to plan your frat party or organize Little League games, but using it for business?

it also haunts... (1)

nguy (1207026) | about 6 years ago | (#22850806)

It also haunts your ISP, your E-mail provider, and probably your backdoor-infested commercial OS.
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