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back to article Google plugs new-age telephony into US carrier phones

Google has teamed with US wireless carrier Sprint to integrate the carrier's cell phones with Google Voice – the new-age telephony web service that lets you attach a single number to multiple phones, turn your voicemail messages into emails, send free texts, make free domestic calls, and dial international numbers on the cheap. …

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FAIL

Sprint or Spring?

Suppose it doesn't make a difference - it'll be a long time before it's available in Blighty.

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Anonymous Coward

Still not enough?

Google just keep on capturing all this information and people don't seem to mind at all. It's unbelievable.

Are companies really going to let Google transcribe and mine the voicemail of all their staff, not to mention whatever they do with the VoIP phone calls..

Whatever next.. Google Bank with current accounts?

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Alert

So what?

I have yet to get a straight answer for my question, and I ask it in utmost sincerity: so what? Google has a lot of data on you, yes. Search data, phone records, you name it. They use that data to target ads at you with increasing accuracy.

But what risk is there? Back at the dawn of the Internet, things like this were forecast with great excitement; you'll be able to use your phone to send letters! You can access your data from anywhere! What's changed? Why is this suddenly a bad thing?

Google does use that data to target you with ads. They aren't going to steal your identity, take money from your bank account, or use information gleaned to find the account number of that Swiss bank account you got to hide your lottery winnings in. They won't even hack your Yahoo! account. Why would they? The money they could steal from you is just a drop in the bucket compared to the money they make doing ads. In fact, I'd trust Google more to hold onto that information than most others, because the information that has been stolen from Google (as compared to the amount they hold) is a pittance as compared to what banks, credit card companies, and countless others -that people trust - have lost.

So what, in all seriousness, is the problem?

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Anonymous Coward

It's not about identity theft

Back at the dawn of the Internet the goal was never to concentrate so much in a single company. The Internet was about interconnection, your machine being able to reach multiple services all over the world. You would become both a consumer and producer of information. No single point of failure or censorship. People even joked that "on the internet nobody knows if you're a dog".

Now it's all concentrated on a few companies all bent on knowing who you are, what you do, what you like/dislike, what you read, your priorities, where you live, your location at all times, your health inc concerns, who you talk to, videos you watch, music you like.

If you then combine all this info for a large group of people it's easy to see how it can be used to predict how society reacts to news and adapt as necessary. Even just changing the the order of search results influences public opinions.

What would the organisations like the Gestapo have done with this during WWII. You think there aren't people like that anymore? Just look at what the US gov and things like Wikileaks.

It's also not far fetched (think mass relation machines like IBM Watson) to imagine how the same technology that targets ads used to influence your opinions on other topics. Given all the information they have it's quite an easy exercise in psychology to do so.

Maybe you should read 1984 to give you some more ideas.

Then there's more direct things like getting advance access to corporate secrets, predicting or even influencing stock movements, etc.

It's a REAL BAD idea.

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Now that, I understand.

If governments or others try to take the information from Google, I can see where that would go terribly wrong... but it's not just Google that can do that. Think of the information Facebook has, or even Bing or Yahoo!.

Then again, if a "bad guy company" wanted to track my every motion, they could do it fairly easily. My cell phone provider knows where I am every second of the day, as well as who I call and when that happens. My ISP knows every link I visit, how long I stay on any given website, and could easily make an educated guess as to what games I play online, or even what applications I use, based on the product update websites.

The information is there to be gathered. Google isn't the only one gathering it, though; I just wonder why there aren't more people up in arms about information gathered by Skype, or AT&T, or Apple, or Microsoft, or their government.

Before I'd attack Google for trawling for information, I'd rather go up against all the companies that willingly show information to anyone who asks - Facebook is a good start, followed by the countless municipal websites with home addresses there for the searching.

Now, if I were Google, I would make a point of anonymizing information, so it can't be linked to any one person - just to protect myself from governments asking for just that sort of info.

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I was just talking about this the other day

A service, though I used Skype as an example, that did all this - my reasoning was the technology is available and if a schmuck like me on the street can think of it why aren't BT or Vodafone trying to sell me it - it just makes sense in an interconnected modern world - as long as there's an off switch for those quiet times :)

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Silver badge

"the new-age telephony web"

queer, that. I've been able to do all those things with a yac number, since before the millenium. voicemail to mp3, fax to pdf, switching calls around multiple phones? yac

Normal disclaimer

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FAIL

Probably crap like Google Chat

If this works as well as Google Chat or Google's other products - be honest would anyone use them if they weren't free? - it's going to be even more broken than Sprint's service.

Sprint is only a step away from dying anyway, at this point they would do anything to make their moribund platform look cool.

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WTF?

Never in the UK

Whilst the recipient's carrier charges the caller's carrier to terminate calls.

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Mobile termination ripoff

@Pete43: That's the most obvious barrier, certainly; Ofcom are very slowly whittling the mobile termination scam down to less absurd rates, though, 0.5p/min ('only' about four times the price landline telcos are allowed to charge) in a few years' time, which might just be low enough to make GV viable here, at least with a small usage charge. (£5/month for up to 10 hours usage, say?)

@RobertEAHarvey: if that's the 'yac' I found, yes, you can get a lot of features from them ... but any poor sod making the mistake of calling you gets stung for over 40p/minute to do it! The only people I'd want calling one of those 070 ripoff numbers would be telemarketers. Find a way of doing it *without* using ultra-premium rate calls, I'll be interested.

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Silver badge

yac

Fair comment.

I only gave the number to my customers and employers. It worked for me. Mine was an 0845 number but it still cost them 12p/min (of which I got 2p). being paid to listen to yer boss ain't bad.

'course, said customers and employers were shipowners and oil companies, so I need not feel bad!

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Unhappy

Also Google has tighten usage of GV

I signed up for GV on a trip to the States (you had to have a US IP address to register) and until about a month ago Google didn't care where in the world I was. Now it does, even the GV dial box on Gmail only shows when I am in the US (or using a US proxy).

So GV is pretty useless if you travel out of the US, admittedly a microscopic population but I'd have thought a good target for GV.

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Anonymous Coward

Transcribed voicemail?

A great idea if everyone you know speaks like a Radio 4 announcer, rather useless if you have any friends with character or regularly use another language other than english...

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