back to article Privacy International accuses Google of smear campaign

Privacy International's (PI) research into privacy practises at internet service companies put Google in last place. However, the search giant hit back by briefing journalists that PI was in the pocket of Microsoft. The figures are a preliminary view, with the full research due to be released in September. Results are colour- …

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Like It Never Happened

Google could make this Privacy International report just disappear. Well, unless you used a different search engine. (Are there still any other search engines? I don't seem to be able to find any ... )

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Privacy

Well, as Google's response was an ad hominem attack on the journalists involved with the study, it makes me think that what they claim is true.

I hope that Google does something about this, but then again have a they a need to do anything?

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Do no what?

Their privacy policy is certainly circumspect. I use Google as little as possible. I use goodsearch because it donates to my favorite charity, but it's powered by Yahoo, so I still have some privacy issues. Where do they rank?

Google takes pride in not turning over data to the US government, but how have they done with other governments?

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Anonymous Coward

not exactly accurate

An answer from Matt Cutts (currently the head of Google's Webspam team) is here:

http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/privacy-international-loses-all-credibility/

it combats the Privacy International report, point-by-point, in what concerns Google, and also points out their willful ignorance of problems happening closer to their own back yard (UK's ISPs themselves)

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Anonymous Coward

Other

"Are there still any other search engines? I don't seem to be able to find any ..."

You should have asked Google ... answers (possibly) at http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=search+engines+-google&btnG=Google+Search

Mind you, that particular search probably puts you on google's hit list.

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re: not exactly accurate

Umm... you say Matt combats the report "point-by-point". Have you read Matt's article? He could've written that without reading the report at all.

His response to PI's "every corporate announcement..." (which, I agree, sounds very biased) is ONE example where they don't. How's that for a rigid defense?

Next thing, he tries to shift attention towards ISPs. Agreed, it IS an area of concern, or should be at least. But that doesn't change anything about Google. Example: Just because some jerk starts a brawl at the local pub doesn't mean I can drive past a red light, does it? The suggested privacy concerns regarding Google are no less problematic in the light of all kinds of other misdemeanors, no matter the scale.

And I second Adrian's comment on the ad hominem attack. Have Google refuted any of the points in the report? (Haven't read it, that would be too serious. I'll wait till someone does a Wikipedia piece on it. ;-]) Why did Google use covert tactics, informing journalists directly instead of giving a press release? All seems odd...

Of course, all this doesn't mean PI's report is anything worth. But the way Google, Matt and the anonymous poster above handles this makes me think there IS something about it.

/Prathlev

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Google has a point

I think they made it badly, but the point is:

On the privacy front, Google is *far* less dangerous than Microsoft, who covertly collect as much information as possible on every Windows user; Yahoo, who knowingly hands over information to the Chinese government which is then used to stifle freedom of thought and freedom of expression; and many, many others.

Mind you, I won't use Google Dekstop Search (nor Microsoft's, either), nor do I permit Google to collect information via the Google toolbar. But I wouldn't allow anyone else to have thet information, either.

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Big Google is Watching You

Of course google would have privacy issues, there's that matter about the "immortal cookie", amongst other things.

And AFAIK, Google *also* hands over information about searches to the Chinese government, *and* filters out many searches when made from China.

Why should Google store information about me only because I searched something on their site?? The simple fact of tagging you with an immortal cookie is already compromising your privacy.

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But Then Again!

But then again , the very nature of the internet , and how it was set up to function means it that it is wide open to all sorts of data trolls , for how else does the information disseminate to all the users and search engines of every description!

This is mere window dressing to the real problem in that ignorant end users are blissfully unaware or are too cheap to ensure proper security of all their systems with internet access , and as a result of all the open back doors , side door , windows and wide open walls , they leak private data at every opportunity!

With so many wankers and the many adherents to the "peter principle" , where will we be in the future , if we shoot the messenger?

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Search

@Morely Dotes "On the privacy front, Google is *far* less dangerous than Microsoft"

Say's who? Nobody knows what these companies do with your information, they pobably use live data in their R&D labs, marketing presentations, etc etc, who know's where it goes from there?? I myself don't really care what they do with my information since my GF is great at data mining it limits the possibilities of what I can search for, saying that just leave the deprived sick porn for the ask engine.

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Microsoft is the untrustworthy one

I trust Google more than any other similar organisation. Their motives are to provide better search and services delivered to you. Google has proven itself to work well with others and their stuff is mostly free to users.

Unlike Microsoft, who in my opinion has proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted and their only motive is to destroy and take for themselves what others have created.

If you look at the track record of both Google and Microsoft, it is clear that Microsoft is the evil one.

As the saying goes, you judge a tree by its fruit. Google fruit is good and Microsoft's is rotten.

I just hope that Google don't become evil like Microsoft. I hope they can continue to handle their power in a good way.

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Nothing wrong with Google

I second David on this point. I use iGoogle extensively and its Web History shows me all of the searches I ever made since I signed up - which is fantastically useful when I'm trying to remember the URL for that news article I searched for three months ago that has long since disappeared from my browser history.

Yes, anyone getting access to that data would be able to build a really detailed psych profile on me, but with millions of users why would they bother targetting little old me? There's a difference between being privacy-conscious and being paranoid, and when you come to think of it, it's not only Google storing your searches and surf history - your ISP is just as capable, if not more so because they can track sites you visited without even going to Google. And most websites track user data as well - as a Web developer myself, all of the sites I develop have user tracking capability to some extent, including storing search queries where applicable, because this data allows you to determine important information such as product popularity, demand, consumer demographics and so forth. Without this information, it's almost impossible to run an online business effectively. It's an essential way of staying in tune with your market. Every site does it. Get used to it.

As to the "immortal cookie", that sounds like Daniel Brandt agitprop to me - he's fond of using that term. There's no such thing as an immortal cookie. You can set your browser to automatically clear all cookies on session end, or you can manually clear your cookies at any time. Most browsers also support additional cookie-control options such as blocking cookies by domain, so Google have no way of forcing you to accept or retain a cookie if you don't want it. It's there so the site can remember your preferences and work the way you want it to.

@SpitefulGOD: If your girlfriend is data mining your search results, it's because she doesn't trust you. That's a relationship doomed from day one. Trust me, get another girlfriend. Seriously.

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good article, short, to the point and good links at the end

Steve Roper is right to a point - ultimately if data on millions of users are streamed together to generate trend data, fine, if my data is used only to improve returns, fine.

I don't see exactly what it is people are afraid of - we're not yet at a point where, say, google searches all the searches for illegal activities and passes this to local police forces or large countries. Is it something like this that users fear? Until I feel there's a real reason to worry, it seems like hype to me.

They *could* do this!!!

Well, a lot of sites could do a lot of things. Yet we all still put our credit card details into online shopping - I'd be a lot more worried about financial penalties of abuses than grey-area what-could-they-be-doing-with-my-data-assuming-they-could-care-less scaremongering.

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