back to article New service hamstrings Google data hoarding

Alarmed by the vast amount of personal information Google collects from its users, a hacker has unveiled an anonymization service that prevents the internet giant from tracking searches and websites visited by a specific individual. Dubbed GoogleSharing, the anonymizing proxy service is designed exclusively for communications …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Thumb Up

Sounds interesting...

This sounds like a reasonably good if somewhat pragmatic solution to deal with Google yet still keep it usable.

Although could Google act as one of the users, to hook in and somehow eavesdrop that way with whoever is connecting with them via this plugin?

0
1
Black Helicopters

um?

How do we know GoogleSharing is trustworthy, and not logging all our REALLY SEKRIT searches for the TLAs?

2
1

re: um?

Suppose you could take a look at the code

0
0
Silver badge

@Tone

"Suppose you could take a look at the code"

The released code, yes. Presumably, you can compile it and run your own proxy ... but that would be kind of pointless, unless you have the resources to allow hundreds of users to use your shiny, newly compiled proxy. And the resources to attract said users. Obviously, if you know what you are doing, you can keep an eye on the plugin running on your computer.

But what is the actual original "googlesharing" proxy itself doing? How do you know? (Same goes for scroogle, BTW ... google hasn't blocked either, even though they can, and their bandwidth needs aren't trivial ... who is paying the bills?).

Paranoid? Me? Nah ... just a jaded, old-school hacker. I don't trust much of anything in my toolchain unless I've eyeballed the source. ALL of the source. For a look on the mindset, see:

http://cm.bell-labs.com/who/ken/trust.html

It's easier to just say no to google. It's an accident waiting to happen.

1
1
Heart

Nice idea...

But I bet users of this service will quickly find themselves on Google's suspicious search list, the same way Tor users do. That means you have to solve a fairly tough captcha every time you search.

And I hope they remembered to include not just google.com, but all of Google's many, many, many subsidiary domains and companies. Anyway, it's still not a bad idea, though I'm not quite sure what the advantage is over a more generalized solution like Tor.

1
0
Alert

About time!

There is no need for any website to make it look like I live in a glass house.

How dare you think I should be a happy camper to sit in a glass house.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Alternatively...

...Scroogle has been doing a /similar/ thing for years (http://scroogle.org/)

7
0

Yeah

I use it every day, and it's great, but shopping and image results (which I tend to use more than occasionally) ain't available thru Scroogle.

Besides, ask your average luser to start using scroogle and they'll balk.

0
0
Thumb Down

Dan, please ...

"Those using Gmail also divulge the content of every email ever sent and received."

Really? You are making this claim in public? Seriously, Dan, put on your thinking cap and stop the alarmist bullsh*t.

Gmail users do not "divulge" anything to Google. There is an AdWords *algorithm* that sifts through the words on the page and matches ads with the content, but the content is never "divulged" and remains anonymous to the algorithm and un-examined by Google.

Just like all of the rest of the data Google maintains ... it's *anonymous*. Nobody at Google could look as a datastream and say, "Hey, this is Dan Goodin from San Francisco!" The data is keyed to identifiers stored as cookies and as session data, but it is NOT based on any personally identifying information, like the IP address you happen to be using. It is *anonymous*. Unlike, say, AOL's data collection.

And you failed to mention that Microsoft and every other provider who administers similar services to those operated by Google ALSO maintain loads of *anonymous* data. So picking on Google, alone, is pretty disingenuous.

I expect better, Dan. No need for you to oompa-loompa up. Keep it real and intelligent. Thx.

2
13
Anonymous Coward

Reply to James Butler

James, if the phrasing used by Dan seems alarmist that's because it should be. If you're logged into a Google service as jbutler001 then Google only has the info about James Butler that you've given them. But over time they build up a very nice picture of what jbutler001 likes to search for, which sites they visit, which adverts they click on, which IPs they log in from, what kind of docs they store, how many photos they have on their computer, how often they update that computer, who they email the most, and so on. The picture builds up exponentially - but who IS this jbutler001?

So what, you're asking. At some point jbutler001 signs up for another service that links into Google - or indeed a new service from Google - and fills in all the personal information. Now Google has the full story. There's no going back from it, ever. They know everything about you and can tie it to all that info they've mined. It's a one-way flow of information - from you, as a person, to Google. Trying to undo it is as futile as trying to stuff shit back in a horse.

Dan was just stating a fact when he said that those using Gmail divulge the content of every mail ever sent and received. It doesn't need to be a human reading it and very likely never will be. It's more lovely data created by James Butler and all we know about him. It's data they didn't have before that email was sent or received.

The GoogleSharing concept helps put the brakes on the one-way flow of information (it remains to be seen how effectively it will perform). Other tools like NoScript, AdBlock, etc can help too, as can being mindful of how you use the internet and Google's services. I might be the most careful person but when I mail jbutler001 Google still collects a bit of data on me. Their business revolves around generating user content and mining it for advertising. Everything they do is designed to pull in and retain users by heavily cross-linking their services and creating dependency.

I've not got anything against Google per se, however they do seem to be ramping up their mining operations in plain sight while most people are still drooling over their funny child-coloured logos and how very nice they are giving away all that free stuff. The emperor's new clothes routine is wearing very thin with them now.

5
0
Alert

Flash cookies

One important thing most people forget about when trying to prevent websites snooping you is flash cookies - which are shared by all browsers, harder to remove and will be stored even in any 'private' mode in a browser.

Obviously, there's an extension for Firefox which can deal with them - BetterPrivacy:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/6623

3
0
Silver badge

@James Butler

"Nobody at Google could look as a datastream and say, "Hey, this is Dan Goodin from San Francisco!""

Nice misdirection, James. It's not about datastreams. It's about datamining.

For example, suppose I sent my c.v. via gmail (Y,S,R!). It has my name, address, telephone number, and personal info such as schooling, work history, etc. google can tie the personal data to everything else my IP address has ever done with google "services". Will they? Who knows. But it's only a matter of time before some government subpoenas google for an individual user's google history.

Think it won't happen? It already has ... See stories of dissidents in China. You may be next.

Before you say it, might I point out that you don't have a plate glass exterior wall in your shower, and you do have drapes in your living room & bedroom ... and hopefully there is a door between the toilet and the rest of your house. Privacy isn't always covering something illegal.

No, I don't use !TubeGooMyFaceYouMSNTwit, or any other such site. This isn't just picking on google.

1
2
Gold badge

Ah, a True Believer (tm)

I'm going to copyright that phrase..

I really hope I won't be the first to point out that anonymity is guaranteed by the same party that stands to gain if it breaks that promise, and there is no way you can prove they do what they say they do.

With Google, your personal information is one programming mistake away from disclosure. Even if they weren't evil (grin), that should give you cause for pause (tm).

The ONLY way you know that there isn't some tech sitting in a dark room with a large box of tissues reading through your private email exchange with your girlfriend is because

1 - Google says so (proof?) and

2 - as a geek you may not *have* a girlfriend.

I presume you also believe Gordon Brown telling you he's going to recover the world economy then?

1
0

Privacy

I've been a visitor in a house that had no door on the loo, a deliberate policy by the matriarch, for a reason I didn't quite understand. In my view, the lockable door is to protect the innocent "intruder" from an embarrassing revelation, not the person sitting on the porcelain chair. It's only polite to lock others out at such moments, rather the reverse of online privacy concerns.

0
1

Sorry ...

You're simply incorrect. Google does NOT "read" anything you write. Every piece of tracking/intelligence programming they do is based on "anonymous" data, just like Bing, Yahoo and every other search engine, for the purposes of "behavioral targeting".

You can send Gmails all day and all night with your full identifying information and never see any of that end up in Google's possession. They simply do not view your data, period. It's completely irrelevant to them.

You guys are completely forgetting that Google is not interested in who you are as an individual, because individual data doesn't matter. They are interested in TRENDS and analysing which of their services are performing well for those who are registered to use them.

It is not only flat out illegal to maintain any retrievable personally-identifiable information (just like it is for Bing, Yahoo and every other search engine, not to mention every "social media" provider and many, many others), it would also be a terrible business move.

So try not to be terrorized by your fantasies, people. Google is NOT out to get you, no matter what the shrill whining you read in these pages is telling you. Have fun!

0
0
Silver badge

@James Butler

"You're simply incorrect. Google does NOT "read" anything you write. Every piece of tracking/intelligence programming they do is based on "anonymous" data, just like Bing, Yahoo and every other search engine, for the purposes of "behavioral targeting".

It is probably true that google employed humans don't read any of it (in theory, but can you post proof? I can't). I choose not to use !GooMyFaceYouMSNTwit for the simple reason that I don't trust human nature when it comes to data mining.

"You can send Gmails all day and all night with your full identifying information and never see any of that end up in Google's possession. They simply do not view your data, period. It's completely irrelevant to them."

But they have it stored on their systems. And they can connect it to my IP address (that's "Internet Protocol address", if you are technically illiterate, look it up) ... and thus connect it to anything else I do in google-space. Do you really not understand this concept?

"You guys are completely forgetting that Google is not interested in who you are as an individual, because individual data doesn't matter. They are interested in TRENDS and analysing which of their services are performing well for those who are registered to use them."

But they are collecting as much info as possible on user use of the Internet, in a massive database. Right? And all those little pieces of data have the user's IP address attached, right? Starting to see a problem yet?

"It is not only flat out illegal to maintain any retrievable personally-identifiable information (just like it is for Bing, Yahoo and every other search engine, not to mention every "social media" provider and many, many others), it would also be a terrible business move."

Oh. I see. So my email in the "mail you have read" and "mail you have sent" that I can access from anywhere with TCP/IP access, somewhere out there in "the cloud" that is gmail, is NOT actually stored on google owned hardware? What color is the sky on your planet?

And while I'm thinking about it, please cite chapter and verse of the so-called "law" that you claim makes !GooMyFaceYouMSNTwit's core business model illegal. In other words, post proof or retract.

"So try not to be terrorized by your fantasies, people. Google is NOT out to get you, no matter what the shrill whining you read in these pages is telling you."

Who is terrorized? Who said google was out to get anyone? All we are doing is pointing out that google (and the like) are in the position of collecting unprecedented quantities of cross referenced, personal, private data on a massive population of people, world-wide. And they are doing exactly that. That is dangerous; too much power in the hands of a private corporation can't be good in the long run.

"Have fun!"

I know Patrick Volkerding. You're no Patrick Volkerding.

1
1
Thumb Up

Tor

This looks like an interesting resource. As much as I used to like Google, I've found myself growing to become very dissatisfied with them. Search results are not what they used to be, getting them to index my web pages has been a huge job, and then there is the privacy.

Really, I wonder how long they can continue to abuse the expectation (if not the right) that users have about privacy?

If you've got an old computer, a broadband internet connection that will stand vastly increased usage, and about half an hour's worth of time, you too could run a Tor relay. And if you're not opposed to doing so, you can make that relay an exit point for traffic leaving the Tor "network" to reach the public Internet. (I used an old Dell OptiPlex GX400 P4 1.3GHz PC, and arranged things so that the traffic is moderately throttled. I haven't noticed any speed loss, and the machine does pass a ton of data each month.) Pair that with clearing your cookies each time you close the browser, and Google's tracking becomes a lot less useful. You'll also be making the Tor network as a whole just a little faster.

Google clearly doesn't like this in the slightest. Although the messages have decreased, I was receiving their "automated queries due to spyware" notice within minutes of having set up the Tor relay and exit node. Reporting this as errant has done no good, although the frequency with which it occurs has decreased as of late.

I believe the IT savvy crowd here knows much of this, but there are some things to be aware of when you run a Tor relay (and/or exit point)...people could use Tor to harass or annoy others, and it's at least theoretically possible that the computer you use to provide Tor services could be seized by law enforcement or government officials if they had reason to believe that you were the source of some criminal activity just because your computer processed traffic containing such material. You could also be penalized by your ISP for a massive increase in data transfers. (The volume of data transfers through my Internet connection almost quadrupled, according to the statistics tables kept by my router.)

2
0
WTF?

There's got to be...

... a joke somewhere around the name "Moxie Marlinspike", but I can't for the life of me figure out what it is...

0
0
cd

Try...

...Googling for it.

0
0

A joke?

Why? It's perfectly amusing enough, without coming up with a joke around it.

0
0
Flame

I somehow can't see...

Why you're all so worked up about this?

What, in god's name, are you all searching Google for that you don't want them to have logs of? Wait, wait, scratch that, I probably don't want to know. *shudders* I sure hope your wife doesn't catch you looking at that. Or that.... And what in My name are you doing on 4chan?

And why on "On Ceiling-Cats green urfs" would IT-Savvy/Security Minded folk like the type who frequent El Reg NOT be clearing their caches and cookies after every browsing session? I thought that kind of thing was considered "best practice" . . .

Somehow, despite the many MANY articles I read on the subject, I just cannot see what all the fuss is about.

1
6
Anonymous Coward

that sum

dat sum "nothing to hide nothing to fear?" with a few meme's thrown in?

Anyway /jp/ is totaly safe.

If I were looking for expanding anal butt plugs I likely wouldn't want it appearing in anybodies logs.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

oops

I should say memes not meme's

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Naming

GoogleSharing does not seem like a sensible name choice for this service.

I have become conditioned to automatically distrust and avoid anything that has the name Google in it, and I suspect that many other potential distrusters of Google may have similar reservations about exactly who is behind this.

It also wouldn't surprise me if Google ended up issuing some kind of take down notice based on the name.

1
0
Coat

Trusting trust

Google knows most things most people do online. Now with the phone they are tracking people to the yard.

What could possibly be wrong with allowing others to know this about you? Used to be a stupid question, now it's considered a joke.

Before we forget what it means; privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively. It is what we had up till the 21st century.

4
0
Headmaster

but hasnt

Google patented and copyrighted everything with a G©®™ in it?

G©®™o G©®™et G©®™roinache perving all those records.

0
0
Thumb Up

Honest Advertising

Frequent any BH type forum and you will find that defrauding google's advertising services consistantly is nigh on impossible.

The reason for this is all the data that the Big G has at its disposal.

So.. on a plus note....

Google's grasp of users browsing data - allows for the most honest advertising services available on the web today.

0
0
Silver badge

They even know the dissenters

Given that my NoScript has flagged that it's blocked google-analytics.com while reading this page, those of you who are unprotected have probably given Google a bunch more information. However, as it's a public page, the search engine will no doubt find it later anyway so we're all doomed.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Hmmm, who do I trust more?

Some random geezer on the 'spazz or a company covered by data protection laws?

1
0

Some day, Some where

Some day, some where, some hacker will find a way to break into Google and steal that stored information and use it to commit a crime.

But will Google be held as part of the crime for collecting that information on its users?

0
0
Happy

ooh the big google's going to get me

Man, there are a lot of people who should get out more here. Isolation nurtures paranoia. Be open about what you do! It doesn't hurt. It's like naturism for the mind.

Personally I'm not that bothered with Google's snooping per se; it's more the distracting and irrelevant ads that annoy me. So, Google, if you are listening as everyone assumes, I'd like my ads more relevant and less distracting please, and I don't mind telling you Amazon-wise what I like / don't like / have already.

BTW: Tor is no match against a powerful adversary. So saith the Torah.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroog Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle

Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle Scroogle - did I mention Scroogle?

1
0
This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums