View Full Version : 77% of Google users don't know it records personal data

Wednesday, February 1st, 2006, 05:40 PM
77% of Google users don't know it records personal data
By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
The Register

Tuesday 24th January 2006 21:20 GMT

More than three quarters of web surfers don't realize Google records and stores information that may identify them, results of a new opinion poll show.

The phone poll, which sampled over 1000 internet users, was conducted by the Ponemon Institute following the DoJ subpoenas last week.

This suggests that the battle for internet privacy is far from over.

Google maintains a lifetime cookie that expires in 2038, and records the user's IP address. But more recently it has begun to integrate services which record the user's personal search history, email, shopping habits, and social contacts. After first promising not to tie its email service to its search service, Google went ahead and opted its users in anyway. It's all part of CEO Eric Schmidt's promise to create a "Google that knows more about you".

The conundrum for Google now is does it come clean with the data it stores about users, or does it simply hope that the majority of users don't care?

In the survey, 56 per cent of users said Google should not turn over information to the Government, and only 14 per cent were happy for Google to turn over information even in criminal cases.

[Source (http://anonym.to/?http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/24/google_privacy_poll/)]

Wednesday, February 1st, 2006, 10:11 PM
Do you know what other search engines might also record data?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006, 02:13 AM
Do you know what other search engines might also record data?
Yahoo! and MSN both claim not to be recording "personally identifiable information," but industry insiders (http://anonym.to/?http://www.searchenginejournal.com/index.php?p=2803) say they are being, um, less than completely truthful. For one thing, the term "personally identifiable information," or PII, is subject to interpretation - does your IP address count, for example? Some say yes, some no.

You might be more surprised at a partial list (http://anonym.to/?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personally_identifiable_information) of what is commonly not considered PII:

-Your first or last name, if common
-Your country, state, or city of residence
-Your age, especially if "non specific" (whatever that means)
-Your sex or race
-The name of your school or workplace
-Your grades, salary, or job position
-Your criminal record

Incidentally, another related privacy issue with respect to Google concerns its widely touted webmail offering, Gmail. I wonder how many Gmail users know that all their private email is being read, or at least scanned, for keywords so that Google can compile information about them, and thereby better target them for advertising.

Supposedly no humans are involved in this mining (theft?) of the Gmail user's private thoughts, not to mention the hundreds of thousands if not millions of electronic invoices stored in Gmail from online transactions. But no one, not even Google's wealthy stockholders, really seem to believe that.

One final thought. Ever wonder why Google gives their Gmail users so much storage space for email? Doh. Not because they're just so cool and really like people. Rather, it's because they want as big a dataset as possible about as many people as possible, which they can sweep through again and again and in effect sell over and over again as they continue to refine their information retrieval techniques.

Dr. Solar Wolff
Thursday, February 2nd, 2006, 07:12 AM
Thanks for the info Siegmund. I have gmail and will start it.

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006, 08:17 AM
Could be the end for Google.

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006, 09:11 AM
Wow, I am one of the 77%. According to this information, it's better to boycott google, although there is no comparable websearch ... is there?
I also need a new eMail provider, can anyone recommend a better one having as much space as the gmail account?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006, 12:05 PM
Count me in the percentage...I didn't know either :(