November 30, 2008

"Right now, we're trusting Google because it's good, but of course, we run the risk that the day will come when Google goes bad."

"Under pressure to fight terrorism or to pacify repressive governments, Google could track everything we’ve searched for, everything we’re writing on gmail, everything we’re writing on Google docs, to figure out who we are and what we do. It would make the Internet a much scarier place for free expression."

40 comments:

New York said...

Clear your cookies constantly.

In a few months, Firefox will have a "private browsing" mode which will enable you to run your gmail or otherwise-non-anonymous google applications in a separate sandbox from your web browsing.

al said...

IE8 has the privacy feature as well. Google Chrome (if you want to trust Google) has it now.

Who really thinks Google is good? They have some nice apps (Sketchup is my fav) but they are very much into the suppression of free speech.

AlphaLiberal said...

And, we need something more than reliable to protect online privacy than a projection of good intentions on big corporations.

Of course, it won't be long before someone posts: "If you're not doing something wrong, you have nothing to be afraid of."

The problem with this view is that it assumes the only reason for privacy is if someone is doing something wrong.

Good news on Firefox.

The Drill SGT said...

I was struck by the spin of the article and the fact that China wasn't discussed till the last paragraphs and then only in the context of what google rival yahoo did. Google has caved the the Chinese and censors the activities of Chinese users daily.

on this we agree AL, google puts profits in front of freedom.

I don't think you'll find many here saying: "If you're not doing something wrong, you have nothing to be afraid of."

However, I don't think government regulations are the answer either.

TheCrankyProfessor said...

Gmail? What about Blogger?

Quayle said...

Google is dangerous. As good as gmail might be, I refuse to use it.

Too much stuff in too few people's hands.

Plus Google is a two-faced bunch of cowards. They stand up big and tall for "free speech porn" in America and, as was said, cave for market share like a bunch of greedy profiteers, in China

Not to mention their vindictive use of litigation to roll over suppliers that don't cave to them.

They make Microsoft look like the church ladies society.

MadisonMan said...

In google we trust.

Rose said...

I don't think you'll find many here saying: "If you're not doing something wrong, you have nothing to be afraid of."

And THAT is a very dangerous mentality.

Rose said...

Also - all of us who think that this new medium is a replacement for the old mainstream media, who think that our voices are powerful and safe - have to realize that most of us blog on these FREE platforms, we don't own this space, these servers, none of it - and it can be ripped away in an instant.

If this media is to survive, that may have to change.

PatCA said...

I have used Google as my home page, but no longer. I wish I could find something that does not collect information. Even Yahoo does.

No mention in the article, of course, of how Yahoo provided information to the ChiComs that led to prison for political dissidents.

John Burgess said...

So, I'm to assume from the comments, that Google, a private company, has an obligation to push free speech rights globally? Do GM, Apple, and McDonalds have the same obligation? Do the stockholders agree?

I thought the NYT article did a good job of describing the mess that exists in international law and politics over free speech and the limits imposed on it by various countries. Gee, if only they all had and enforced our own First Amendment! Gee, if only the FCC and Congress did, too!

Mitch said...

Use a non-US based proxy server and encrypt everything (PGP or TrueCrypt).

Clear caches, cookies, and assume everything you do will be on the evening news.

New York said...

Gmail is too convenient to refrain from. If yahoo were as fast or as clean a design I would use it instead.

Also delete your flash cookies: http://kb.adobe.com/selfservice/viewContent.do?externalId=52697ee8

Paddy O. said...

customizegoogle is a great extension for Firefox that addresses part of this, as well as adding a whole lot of other nice features to the Googling experience.

bearbee said...

...that Google, a private company...

Public company

Jim Howard said...

Clearly we can't trust greedy corporate pirates.

The answer is obvious. We need ban private email servers, and allow only the U.S. postal service to provide email service.

With the government in charge there will be no danger to our privacy, and our free speech rights will be safe forever.

amba said...

Quicker than thought, my eye read those last words as "free oppression."

amba said...

"clear your cookies constantly" sounds like binge-syndrome. Stick your finger down your cache --

amba said...

I meant to say, binge-purge syndrome.

paul a'barge said...

This is just more Volokh-style Orin Kerr Libertarian garbage.

These are the kind of folks that would let literally thousands of people perish in a flu epidemic rather than have Google correlate search content in an attempt to track that flu.

Wonder deeply at the self-centeredness of Libertarians, folks. These are the men (mostly) who never matured after turning geeks at 13 in their private schools.

Original George said...

It's just so Wong.

John Burgess said...

bearbee: I meant 'private' as in 'not a part of government'. Of course it is publicly traded.

Florida said...

Google is already doing that.

Google IS the goovernment.

rhhardin said...

I'm constantly trying to get noticed, myself.

rhhardin said...

If Google is so all-knowing and smart, why does it forget who I'm logged in as every two weeks?

Yachira said...

CCleaner will help rid your PC of unwanted garbage, guarding your privacy and ridding your drive of gigs of useless clutter. It's freeware.

Yachira said...

Oh, but getting rid of cookies will do nothing to protect you from Google. Every time you go to their site and search, they are likely logging your IP and search string. You're cooked.

Using a proxy to get to them might help, but not necessarily so.

Try this fine proxy:

Easy to install, and even easier to use.

theMickey's said...

i heard atlas shrugs had problems with goo. I'm waiting for annie to fall, then I'll quit.

Merry said...

Having lived in China both before and after the big introduction of www.google.cn, I have to say that I get a more reliable connection with the latter (those local servers...). I'm on Google all day, every day, because I get better results usually than I do with Baidu or Sogou, and none of the U.S.-based substitutes I've ever seen could do a remotely decent job searching in Chinese. I'll continue to Google on in the meantime.

Of course, I'm usually not sitting here searching for information on free tibet or falun gong. Anytime I am, I just do what everyone else does and use a proxy. In the meantime, Google actually tells me when the government has censored the results, and I appreciate that.

rdasher said...

Private Browsing, is not totally private. It is only private for cookies. Your IP address is still available to the server you are accessing. Google (or who ever) could store your info locally instead of in your computer in a cookie. Using an anonymizer my help with that aspect of privacy, but don't count on it.

Eric Dondero said...

I'd say the threat is far greater that Google would institute such restrictions due to political correctness coming from the incoming Obama administration. Anything critical of Obama could be dubbed as "dangerous to the State," as has been the case in the past in Communist nations, and censored or even eliminated.

We're seeing the most Leftwing Pro-Communist President of our lifetimes. He had a voting record of a perfect 100 as a Socialist. His top advisors actively support the Fairness Doctrine.

What's to stop him from putting pressure on Google to cut off libertarian and other blogs critical of his policies?

Don said...

How about Facebook, MySpace et al that provide _________ (law enforcement, anti-terror agencies, the Antichrist, etc) with a handy dandy cross reference of everyone you're related to?

Mister Snitch! said...

"If Google is so all-knowing and smart, why does it forget who I'm logged in as every two weeks?"

Best. Comment. Ever.

JohnMc said...

Everybody on this thread so far has taken a defensive posture as to data. The fact is when a small percentage of the population start taking active defensive measures -- false data, dual accounts, lying half the time, etc the data store becomes corrupt and less useful power that be. Only by corrupting the data store can one even attempt to think one is 'safe'.

Bryan C said...

I'm not particularly worried about Google. If you think you have or have every had any guarantee of of anonymity on the Internet then you are simply mistaken. Every packet, click, and search is logged by the people who own the servers and infrastructure you're using, unless you take very specific steps to avoid it. And most people simply do not care enough about privacy to even bother learning what those steps might be. Which is perfectly rational.

Nobody's forcing anyone to use Google. The reason for their current position is that they're very good at what they do. And what they do is collect, correlate, analyze, and monetize search and browsing habits. If Google screws up they'll find themselves in the junkyard with Altavista, Webcrawler, and other former search-engine powerhouses.

veni vidi vici said...

Personally, I'd be more comfortable using a browser promulgated by Halliburton; at least there's no confusion about who/what H is, whereas Google has this persistent mystique of benevolence that imparts a strangely Weimar vibe.

Hucbald said...

*Yawn... stretch... sip of coffee*

If some government moron - and I know they're morons because I used to work for the government (I'm sure the average IQ of FEMA was halved when I quit) - wants to waste his/her time and our tax dollars perusing my Google search history, that's fine by me.

They'll find out I like curvaceous women - redheads especially - and that I'm constantly looking up historical persons on Wikipedia.

I'd probably get a Congressional Medal of Freedom out of the deal.

X said...

Don't be Google.

Oxbay said...

There is a way to use google.com without entrusting any of your digital signature to their perusal and manipulation.

http://www.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/scraper.htm

Go to the above address and enter your search terms. The site performs the search for you on google without exposing you to cookies and search-term records. The access log is deleted within 48 hours.

comrade_tovarich said...

For proxy services, have a look at Guardster. Different plans.

For email, Fastmail.fm has some nice options.