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Google Businesses The Internet

Can We Trust Google? 239

Posted by Zonk
from the what-the-goog dept.
theodp writes "Google worries go mainstream this week in TIME's cover story, Can We Trust Google With Our Secrets? Touted as an 'inside look' at how success has changed Larry and Sergey's dream machine, the piece offers some interesting tidbits but in the end is pretty much a softball effort that even toes the mum's-the-word line on the relationship between Larry Page and 'blond, blue-eyed force of nature' Marissa Mayer. Guess it's the least Time Warner could do after pocketing $1B of Google's money."
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Can We Trust Google?

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  • Black (Score:2, Funny)

    by ticklish2day (575989)
    Do Larry and Sergey always dress in #000000?
  • by quokkapox (847798) <quokkapox@gmail.com> on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:22AM (#14705179)
    People need to understand the fact that executing a search on the Internet is akin to yelling out to the world, "Hey world, tell me everything you know about xyz".

    You cannot expect the people who hear your call and help to fulfill your request to not make a note of it, and possibly associate your request with your current IP address.

    • People need to understand the fact that executing a search on the Internet is akin to yelling out to the world, "Hey world, tell me everything you know about xyz".

      No, it's not. My family/friends/neighbours don't know I was looking up -- well, never mind what I was looking up, but they don't know about it. So Google knows about it, and Google ties it to my IP address. Now if they wanted to they could go to the ISP, and get my name and address. Or I guess the ISP could be monitoring me.

      But it's not
      • No, it's not. My family/friends/neighbours don't know I was looking up -- well, never mind what I was looking up, but they don't know about it. So Google knows about it, and Google ties it to my IP address. Now if they wanted to they could go to the ISP, and get my name and address. Or I guess the ISP could be monitoring me. But it's not the same as asking the world something, it's more like asking a particular person. Specifically, it's like asking someone you don't know. What's the difference? Well I do
      • No, it's not. My family/friends/neighbours don't know I was looking up

        Well, they may not know that you went down to the grocery store and yelled out to the stock boy, "hey, what's the price on radishes today?" But you wouldn't consider that private, would you?

        The internet is a public network, and the data is not encrypted as it travels over 20 or so computers on its way from your computer to google and back. That request you made for donkey porn is most definitely public knowledge unless you took measures
        • by Vellmont (569020) on Monday February 13, 2006 @11:05AM (#14705844)

          The internet is a public network, and the data is not encrypted as it travels over 20 or so computers on its way from your computer to google and back. That request you made for donkey porn is most definitely public knowledge unless you took measures to protect your privacy.


          You have a pretty funny definition of "public knowledge". Privacy is based on an "expectation of privacy". Even though the data isn't encrypted, the routers those packets travel on is certainly NOT open to monitoring by just anyone. There still are easdropping laws in this country that would protect against someone listening in on those requests.

          10 years ago essentially all cell phone traffic was in analog form and could be intercepted by anyone that had a cheap scanner. But yet cell phone calls weren't considered "public knowledge" and are/were still protected by privacy laws. It's all based on "expectation of privacy" not the ability to intercept communications (though one could argue expectations are partially based on interception ability).
          • You have a pretty funny definition of "public knowledge". Privacy is based on an "expectation of privacy". Even though the data isn't encrypted, the routers those packets travel on is certainly NOT open to monitoring by just anyone. There still are easdropping laws in this country that would protect against someone listening in on those requests.

            What you are referring to are "common carrier" provisions, and it seems to be a common belief that internet service providers fall under those provisions, but recen

            • If you believe that your data over the internet is private, then you have an odd idea of how the internet works.

              I know exactly how the internet works, I just think I have an expectation of privacy.

              The tools to encrypt your email are publicly available. If you don't use them, you are effectively writing all your emails on postcards.

              You'd really need to talk to a lawyer on that one. Expectation of privacy isn't based on interceptability. You need look no further than analog cell phone interception to see th
              • Ok, but as I said, there are specific laws in place for telephones that make them private. The laws to do that with the internet don't exist. If the laws for cell phones did not exist, anyone would be allowed to tap into your cell phone conversation just as easily as someone can listen in on a ham radio or CB conversation.

                Since you know how the internet works, you are even less likely to get away with the excuse of "expectation of privacy" in court. Unlike a commoner, you are more aware of how public the
      • My family/friends/neighbours don't know I was looking up

        If their web sites were in the results, then they will see your search terms in the referrer field. If you have ever sent them an email, then they probably know your IP from looking at the headers (assuming that they actually care, which seems unlikely).

    • by Churla (936633) on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:35AM (#14705247)
      Well...

      Not associating your search requests to an ability to identify and track was the way of search engines in "the days of yore". (which in internet standard time means less than a decade ago). Now a days the ability to track searching and spending habits on the web is exactly what makes companies like Google worth so much because it's how they target ads. Ads based on what you search for. And if a computer program is taking cycles to figure out what on line purchases go best with a search for "Teri Hatcher swimsuit malfunction" you can bet a programmer wants to make sure it's coming back with the right results, which means logging it somewhere.

      As much as we all have loved them we need to accept that the glory days of the internet being a warm protective cloak of anonymity are coming to an end, much in the way that "mundane less adventurous settlers" made law enforcement tame the wild west. Our mundane settlers are arriving, and they don't like that those guys get to wander around without fences and rules and nice tidy guarantees of safety. Profiteers are arriving and learning that selling fences (firewalls) , cattle brands (DRM) , even making people show papers at the coach stop (electronic ID tracking) make money.

      Then again, maybe I'm the crazy one...

      • by quokkapox (847798) <quokkapox@gmail.com> on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:42AM (#14705273)
        As much as we all have loved them we need to accept that the glory days of the internet being a warm protective cloak of anonymity are coming to an end, much in the way that "mundane less adventurous settlers" made law enforcement tame the wild west.

        Speak for yourself. I am warm and comfortable in my own cloak of anonymity, with my own level of protection, and I realize that one simple mistake could compromise one of my identities, and possibly my entire house of cards. It's complicated, but you can remain anonymous on the internet.

        It takes some effort to do it properly, just like anything else in this world.

      • And if a computer program is taking cycles to figure out what on line purchases go best with a search for "Teri Hatcher swimsuit malfunction" you can bet a programmer wants to make sure it's coming back with the right results, which means logging it somewhere.

        You're one of those guerilla marketing types, aren't you. Your job is to suggest tantalizing Google search topics so that they can sell more advertising.

        ...curse you, now I've got to open a new tab for Google.

      • "Teri Hatcher swimsuit malfunction"

        I don't think anyone is going to search for a "Teri Hatcher swimsuit malfunction" after this photo [thesuperficial.com].
    • What a terrible analogy. No one but Google hears your request, not everyone in the whole world. This is important because there's an expectation of privacy between you and Google (well, there WAS before all this NSA wiretapping came to light). I wouldn't even rule out the possibility of curent, or future privacy laws preventing Google from tying you to your requests, and selling that information. I'm fairly certain that the phone company is prevented from selling the records of who you call and when. (
      • This is important because there's an expectation of privacy between you and Google

        It's not reasonable to have an expectation of privacy on the public Internet. Your search query is transmitted in the clear through any number of intervening network devices and nearly as many privately owned networks. The only time it MIGHT be reasonable to have an expectation of privacy is when your communications are encrypted; even then, your information is subject to the recipient's privacy policy.


        • It's not reasonable to have an expectation of privacy on the public Internet.

          So I don't have an expectation of privacy from the phone company when I call someone? See wiretapping laws.
          • Wiretapping laws are written to protect phone conversations. IP packets are not the same as analog phone transmissions. Apples and oranges.

            My point is, that in the absence of specific legislation regarding Internet privacy, it is unreasonable at this time to have an expectation of privacy regarding information sent in the clear over the Internet.

            Case in point: If, let's say, I work for Yahoo!, and use AOL Instant Messenger to communicate a trade secret to someone else at Yahoo!, it would go over a networ
      • No one but Google hears your request, not everyone in the whole world.

        Untrue. Your ISP knows it, some routes know it too.
        • ...and don't forget, the owner of the site that you went to knows if (if the owner has access to server logs).

          I look at my site's server logs, and I can see who came by way of search engine, what their IP and browser was, and what search term they used. Of course, that's not nearly as bad as the "whole world" knowing (which it does not; and ISPs have better things to do than to track traffic like that; it would be hideously costly to them).
    • The issue goes deeper than just web searches though. Google is working on an entire suite of products to index and share data, and if you use those products, they have total access to that information. If they have total access, that is one more point of data loss or leakage, as not only do you need to worry about your security, but if Google is ever compromised, then that data could be stolen. Also, do you have enough faith in Corporate America that they are going to keep your deepest, darkest, most cla
  • Gotta love it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by imboboage0 (876812) <imboboage0@gmail.com> on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:24AM (#14705185) Homepage
    Here's everything you can read. Unless you're a subscriber to TIME.

    It's time to make some big decisions, so the Google guys are slipping on their white lab coats. After eight years in the spotlight running a company that Wall Street values at more than $100 billion, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are still just in their early 30s and, with the stubbornness of youth, perhaps, and the aura of invincibility, keep doing things their way. So the white coats go on when it's time to approve new products. For a few hours, teams of engineers will come forward with their best ideas, hoping to dazzle the most powerful men...

    TIME Magazine subscribers, log in here to continue reading


    Personally, if GMail, Google Search, Image Search, and Google Desktop are results of things done their way, I'll take more of it; I use all of those on a regular basis.
    • Re:Gotta love it. (Score:3, Informative)

      by tuomasr (721846)

      Here's everything you can read. Unless you're a subscriber to TIME.

      Or if you click through the ads, you can read the whole article. No subscription necessary.
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:24AM (#14705192)
    That is the real question.

    After several stories written recently about companies having their customer databases compromised, can we really trust any company to keep our data secure?

    I would say no.
    • Can we really trust any person? After several stories about people ratting their accomplices out, I would say: no.
    • Oh, you could not say it better. The problem is not Google, the problem is Corporations. The way our economy works is what makes "people" do wrong.

      I have always thought that Coroporations are kind of self consious monsters that created by the current capitalist model. It is not only in IT, all kind of Corporations end hurting basic human values in exchange of more profit for shareholders and, although the people working on those corporations are not "bad" per se, their actions joined with thousands of other
      • First off, I'd like to say this isn't a personal attack pointed at you. What you've said just sparked me to dump out my opinion on the subject.

        I look at them more like McDonalds. They're not trying to be evil for a profit, they're just trying to profit without paying much attention to anything else. People don't have to eat at McDonalds. They choose to ignore what they know damn well is an unhealthy way of life and do it anyway. Is it McDonalds fault? Should we make sure that we have laws on health cons
        • I look at them more like McDonalds.

          Agree, that was the meaning of my first post. It is McDonalds as a "Corporation" that is doing something bad to society, not because people there is bad, but because of the way Corporations work.

          And it is the same in any other buisness. Take for example Wal*Mart on the house selling buisness or Shell on the Fuel buisness or Microsoft on the IT buisness or any other big corporation in any type of buisness. Corporations are inherently bad, that is what I called the "evil Co
    • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:08AM (#14705409)
      There are plenty of "non-corporate" entities (in the sense that most people on slashdot use the term "corporate") that are in receipt of your private data and information about your history.

      Your dentist's office? Your kids' family-run daycare facility? The obscure regional charity to whom you donate things (like money)? The alumni association that actually directly debits your checking account every quarter? The small professional newsletter that has all of your correspondence? The online forum that seems too small-time to worry about, but which knows every search string you've ever entered while engaged in some flame-war about USB vs. Firewire?

      There are plenty of people who through simple incompetence (to say nothing of malice) can use or let go of information about you, your family, and your dealings with the world. "Corporations" actually have more at stake, in terms of their public reputation, stock price, etc., when they make a big mistake. A small-town doctor's office with copies of your checks, links to your prescription and insurance info, etc., is much less likely to be well firewalled or even thinking, beyond locking the closet with the file server, about true security.

      To say nothing of the corner restaurant that recently hired some new waiter that's been mag-swiping credit cards after serving you your pasta. Dumb and unethical people operate at all levels of organization, both personally and professionally. I do hosting work for all sorts of individuals, groups, non-profits, and businesses. Believe me when I say that the larger businesses are way more focused on keeping your data battened down than are the others, even though things like messages and credit card numbers flow just as readily into the hands of the smaller, looser, less capable entities every day.
      • I fully agree. I wait tables at a second job. One evening a lady said that she wanted to pay with a credit card, but since she had been the victim of credit card fraud a couple times, she wanted to swipe the card herself because her bank recommended her to do so. I let her swipe it, but let her know, that it would make little difference. That I can pull up any transaction made under my name in the restaurant computer. So it probably would deter a server to a target less likely to be monitoring their cr
        • True security is a fallacy in the information age.

          Well said.

          I think I might change it to "True privacy is a fallacy in the information age," although you could make a valid argument over whether security implies privacy or vice versa. It's really just semantics as far as I'm concerned at the moment, though.

          The point is, there are people out there -- or "Corporations," but I think it's silly to point the finger at the C-word, when really they're just groups of people acting out of self-interest -- who can, i
    • See, they're just using a slightly shortened version of their REAL motto.

      -Eric

  • by Vellmont (569020) on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:27AM (#14705197)
    This article is stupid gossip with almost no content. I don't really care who's dating who. I expected an honest article Google's business dealings, not something lifted from Star Magazine about how Brad is mad at Angelina.
    • My mistake. I missed the "read this article for free" on the Time website. I still think that the gossip column link ads nothing to the story.
  • Googling Google (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stuffduff (681819) on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:30AM (#14705214) Journal
    If you google Google you will see a list of critics, detractors and alternatives, after a few pages of Google top ranking itself. While there are some crackpots there is also some pretty interesting stuff; certainly worth the effort.
    • If you google Google...

      I did that and clicked on the first link.

      So I typed in google again and clicked on the first link...
  • Why would you? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tuomasr (721846) on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:30AM (#14705216)

    First of all, I think the link to the article is misleading. Okay, I didn't read all ten pages but did it actually discuss whether or not we can trust Google with our secrets? Or did it actually talk about Google's current trend and their "Do no evil"-vision.

    Secondly, why would you trust a third party with your secrets? "Hey John, I got this really secret business plan that must not under any circumstances fall in to the wrong hands. I'll use my web-based free e-mail address to mail it to the necessary people and not use our secure corporate network instead." "Yeah, good idea."

    Stupid, I say. If it's a secret, keep it a secret.


    • Secondly, why would you trust a third party with your secrets?


      Because there's laws on the books about wiretapping and reading peoples communications. I'm pretty sure Google couldn't legally offer a service like "Find out if your spouse is cheating on you! Just pay us $20 per search and we'll give you emails with certain key words in them!". If there aren't such laws, there should be.
  • Trust? (Score:2, Informative)

    by musonica (949257)
    I'd like to think these guys are generally good, although the worrying issue is that they are basically a corporation, with the prime directive of making money. Lets hope social conscience stays a reality in google hq.

    The other worrying fact is they are so hugely resourced (and unlike m$ seem to get projects working reasonably well), woe and behold any small developers working on something that is in their "sites" so to speak! Monopolies are not a good thing...

    • Exactly! Their mission is to make money. We're already seeing the erosion of the "social conscience," particularly regarding operations in other countries. From the stock reports, it looks like their stock is finally going to be moving downwards to be more in line with a normal P/E, and it'll be interesting to see how that affects their actions.

      What has been bothering me about Google for a while is that no one there seems to be stopping to think about consequences and addressing them. More often I ge

  • by plebeian (910665) on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:32AM (#14705232)
    I was wondering if anyone else questions the value of Google as a publicly traded company. As a private company the company could afford to take more idealistic stands and just work through the backlash. Now that they are beholden to a bunch of fickle investors that over emphasize the bottom line. Does "Don't be evil" take a back seat to making profits?
  • by javaman235 (461502) on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:34AM (#14705239) Homepage
    Private centralized search engines are a threat to free speech if the world becomes too dependant on them. Its not such a big deal now, but I think we need to think about it as sites like Google become integrated into more and more applications, like Firefox.
  • Divide this up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wombatmobile (623057) on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:34AM (#14705240)

    Can We Trust Google With Our Secrets?

    So far Google has been dealing with two different sets of data through its products:

    1. Our (seemingly) anonymous search queeries, through Google search.

    2. Our private documents, through Google desktop search.

    What do you trust Google with?

    So far, they have said no to the US government to keep your #1 private.

    If you haven't opted in to #2, then so far you haven't even exposed yourself to the issue of trust with Google beyond 1.

    People in China, of course, have a different form of trust relationship with Google for #1.

    Those are 3 separate issues.

    • #1 is defintely *not* anonymous, your IP is recorded and they've got you at your ISP, cookies can tie you across sessions.

      The only anonymous thing google is doing is not giving out combined results results to the gov for basically a survey request (i.e. how many people searched for "big boobs" in the past 3 months). They resisted giving that government the anonymous information, but I can tell you that when the gov has a subpoena with specific request for the searches from IP at Time on day they comply
  • by LarsWestergren (9033) on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:35AM (#14705245) Homepage Journal
    This is offtopic, and I don't mind much if it is modded as such, or even flamebait (because it is prehaps needlessly political). That said -

    As a geek I love Wikipedia and how the net has given me information at my fingertips. A few sites have censored themselves, but the Google cache usually reveals this. Very gratifying. But now that Google has become so dominant, and is helping China to censor stuff from their citizens, do they really deserve our trust? Can we really trust ANY online media? If we don't have hardcopies, how can we guarantee that information isn't altered or wiped out for ever? In 1984, there is a whole ministry that works with throwing stuff into "the Memory Hole" that the regime doesn't like. Now it might be possible to do it with a press of a button.

    A pretty nasty example of this comes from Time magazine itself:

    A composition instructor at the University of California at Irvine got a disturbing email from a friend who was searching Time magazine's digital archives looking for a certain article written by George Bush Senior and his Defense Secretary, Brent Scowcroft. In that article, the two men purportedly explained why they decided not to occupy Iraq in 1991. Their reason was that such an action would have exceeded the UN's mandate to remove Iraq from Kuwait , and would have destroyed the precedent of an international response to aggression. They went on to argue, in the March 2, 1998 article, had they chosen to occupy Iraq in 1991, the US would probably still be occupying a bitterly hostile land.

    The article, in today's light, seems like a clear rebuff to junior's invasion. But the article is gone. It's no longer in Time's digital archives - as if it never existed. The Irvine instructor decided to charge her students with the task of verifying the existence or nonexistence of the article. As it turned out, the article was in fact real, and was still archived by a number of subscription-accessed library research databases - but it was no longer in the Time archives. Interestingly, none of her digital-age students thought to look for the paper copy of the magazine in the library. The instructor did, finding not only the missing article, but also finding that editors changed the titles on many of the articles remaining in the Time archives.

    Time's post-facto editing is especially disturbing since it shakes the very foundation of library sciences. An archive is a collection of past works. By definition it must be left intact. Archive managers have no right to edit history. In this case, Time blew their chance to censor this story in 1998.


    The whole article I quoted from is here [mediastudy.com].
    • by bjschrock (557973) <bschrock@NOspam.gmail.com> on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:59AM (#14705351)
      Sounds more like a legal problem than a censorship issue, although maybe I'm not paranoid enough. If you try to find the article now you get this text:

      The page you've requested is an excerpt from a book by Brent Scowcroft and George H. W. Bush titled A World Transformed, which appeared in the March 2, 1998, issue of TIME magazine under the title "Why We Didn't Remove Saddam". It has been removed from our site because the publisher did not grant us rights to sell the piece online through the TIME archive.

      From http://www.time.com/time/magazine/1998/dom/980302/ special_report.clintons_29.html [time.com].
      You can find the article online several places, just not at Time's site. http://govsux.com/didnt_remove_saddam.htm [govsux.com]
      • Well done. I wish I could say I already knew, and was testing if the Slashdot mod system could be trusted. But I didn't know, I was just lazy and hadn't done the research.

        Kudos.
        Ok, now my original post REALLY deserves negative mod points. :-)
      • If you try to find the article now you get this text [...]

        Not true. You only get that text if you go to the location the article was previously at. If you try to find the article via Time's own search engine, it's silently omitted. I know this because I tried it.

    • Don't forget, shiny side out if you're trying to stop them from controlling your mind, shiny side in if you're concerned about them reading it.

      Maybe you should use one layer of each just in case.

      What I'm really saying is that you're noting a situation, ascribing motives and intents to how it became that way and then railing against those motives. But who are you really arguing against since you created the intents yourself?
  • Yes, sure! (Score:3, Funny)

    by archeopterix (594938) on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:38AM (#14705259) Journal
    Giving 100% trust to a company that has a track record of kowtowing to oppressive governments... what can possibly go wrong?
    • Hey, that's no different than running Windows; by running somebody's OS, you're giving them effectively absolute trust and control over your data, and Microsoft has sold out to China as well.

      My point is that whether or not a company has sold out to Beijing doesn't seem to interest many members of either the corporate-decisionmaking nor the WalMart-shopping segments of our society. The corporate decisionmakers will still support China because it makes "good business sense;" that is, it keeps them competitive
  • by rindeee (530084) on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:38AM (#14705261)
    ...is no. YOU cannot trust anyone other than YOU with YOUR secrets. Why would we be concerned with whether or not we can trust a commercial organization such as Google with our secrets? If you use Google's tools, as I do, and love them, as I do, don't have an expectation of privacy even if it is stated. If you need privacy, have a separate computer or a separate boot instance on your computer (bootable ISO perhaps) and keep things compartmentalized. Google has some awesome tools for day to day computing and it's silly not to make use of them. The inclusion of your "secrets" is not a requirement nor is it wise.
  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:39AM (#14705263) Homepage
    No.

    But why would we need to trust google anyway?

    Google does it's job and does it well, but if you need secrecy, you shouldn't trust anybody that doesn't have a personal gain in keeping your secret safe.

    If Google were to go bankrupt if it ever revealed my secrets, I'd trust them. But not any sooner.
    • If Google were to go bankrupt if it ever revealed my secrets, I'd trust them. But not any sooner.

      Your criterion for trust level is extremely low. For many people who create and destroy corporations on the fly the bankrupt is quite not a taboo. So, your statement is more about a worthlessness of your secrets than about trust.
      • Then what criterea would you use?
        • Then what criterea would you use?

          I do trust no one so I share no secrets. Well, you produced a very cute profiling question. Nice try.

          • In real life though, secrets are commonly shared by multiple people, and a medium is required.

            If communication needs to take place over sufficient time or space, that medium will likely be in control of some corporation. (i.e. postal service, phone operator, e-mail host)

            Thus there must be some set of criterea by which to determine the trustworthiness of the corporation controlling that medium.
  • Okay, so some blog has a conspiracy theory about how Google are censoring the press over who one of the founders dates, and suddenly Time magazine is "toeing the line"? Did you ever consider that maybe, just maybe Time magazine doesn't give a flying fuck who dates who? Seriously, so two Googlers are getting it on - does it really matter?

    I'd also like to point out that Google or a rogue Google employee could alter the Adsense Javascript to steal your cookies, as the Adsense Javascript, like most third-

  • The short answer to this question is: yes, for now

    For now because right now the stock price is up high (even though its value is questionable). When Google's stock price is underperforming the market, or even losing, how easy do you think it will keep to the "do no evil" mantra.

    The real question, do you want to trust a company which currently has a P/E ratio of 72?
  • by rAiNsT0rm (877553)
    Once a company goes public they are no longer at the helm, no matter how well intentioned their initial goals were they are no longer. Boards of directors, shareholders, etc. only care about bottom lines and profit... not furthering the good of anyone. Don;t kid yourselves, Google is far from its humble Uni. beginnings and it will never go back.

    I trust them as far as I can throw 'em.
  • Secrets? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cazbar (582875) on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:43AM (#14705283)
    Better question, who's putting their secrets on web pages that Google can index? These are web sites. They are supposed to be publicly available.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:46AM (#14705297)
    Google searches you.
  • Secrets? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PinkyDead (862370) on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:49AM (#14705308) Journal
    Just curious, but what exactly are these all so precious secrets that need protecting.

    Obviously, if you're living in Area 51 this doesn't apply. But for the vast majority of people what do we really have that is so important.

    The big one is of course salary, I know a lot of people who are really secretive about this one. Why? Who cares - it's really only interesting if your raking it in - in which case it's probably published in some kind of company return - or your making the same as any other joe schmo and it's published in some crappy salary review (or close enough).

    Second one, deepest emotions/thoughts. Either you've put the on the web through a blog or you've not told anyone - in which case until Google Brain comes out, that's where they're staying.

    Third, opinions. Everyone thinks that their opinions are unique. Bad news folks they're not, you share them with millions of others - no one cares.

    Fourth, shopping habits. So what if the local supermarket knows I buy bread, cheese and eggs. And if they use that information to sell me stuff I want - well all the better.

    I'm sure there a loads more types of secret but I'm just at a loss to know what the big secrets that Google can possibly know that we all need to get upset about the erosion of our civil liberties.

    Of course, if you are living in a police state and you risk death if the government figures out your real intentions, then this is obviously important. But what do you care, your living in a police state!


    • The big one is of course salary, I know a lot of people who are really secretive about this one. Why? Who cares - it's really only interesting if your raking it in


      Imagine your next Job interview: "Well Mr. PinkyDead I see that at your last job you were making only 40,000 a year, but yet your salary requirements for this job is 60,000. We don't feel we need to pay you much more than your last job, so we're offering 45,000. Take it or leave it."

      You may not care if your next door neighboor knows how much yo
  • by Stumbles (602007)
    There sure does seem to be a lot of anti-google, bang on google and tear them down articles about google here of late. I wonder why that is. Maybe something to do with Microsoft's efforts to enter that area? Naw. Bill wouldn't get all his "journalists" to orchestrate some kind of media blitz. That would be unethical wouldn't it? Let's see, what's the motto of google? Ah, "do no evil"? Hm.

    Not to pick on Billy Boy. I trust no corporation, not even google and their reassuring motto. Ultimately a corporation

    • Your in a foreign country doing business and some are getting wrapped around the axle cause that business follows that countries rules, policies etal?

      It's the hipocrisy of Google that annoys people the most. Of course, we expect this out of other scumbag companies. But when a company whose model is "do no evil" does it (particularly one that has consciously sold itself as rebellious and free-thinking), the glaring hypocrisy makes the reaction even angrier.

      And, in regards to the idea that a company is oblig

  • by Kiyyik (954108) on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:58AM (#14705343)
    "In the morning, they noticed a change. The writing on the wall at company headquarters had been changed; it now read:

    'An Animal Shall Do No Evil ....to excess'."
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:00AM (#14705360)
    The question isn't only whether or not you trust Google. Or any company, for that matter.

    There are many companies (ISPs, telcos,...), people (admins, ...) and the governments of their countries involved, all of them can snoop and pick at your traffic.

    And here we are, sitting and wondering if you can trust Google with your private information when we're sending it unencrypted across wire that can easily be tapped. It's kinda like wondering if your can trust your steel doors when your walls are made of plywood.
  • Can We Trust Google?

    No. They're run by people, and they're unpredictable, and they could one day decide to do something pretty bad.

    But it's convenient to do so, so we take the risk and have fun arguing to ourselves one way or the other, making arguments that make us feel more secure or more paranoid, depending on which frame of mind we tend toward in the first place.
    • Re:The simple answer (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MindPrison (864299)
      No. They're run by people, and they're unpredictable, and they could one day decide to do something pretty bad.

      They could indeed. Given the facts of history of any long-standing company and the shift in management, ownership etc. the policies also change with new owners, new management. Im pretty sure that the original founder of Google is a nice man with a sturdy moral...especially if you study Googles policies and work-ethings for their staff, Ive yet to come across a person working for Google complain
  • by corellon13 (922091) on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:25AM (#14705498)
    "Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead." - Benjamin Franklin
  • Simple answer: no. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Stavr0 (35032) on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:27AM (#14705512) Homepage Journal
    Long answer:
    • I do not trust the US Government.
    • The US Government, using the Patriot Act can subopena my secrets from Google without my knowledge or consent.
    therefore
    • I do not trust Google.
  • by DrSkwid (118965) on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:36AM (#14705598) Homepage Journal
    Because chances are in your lifetime, ownership of that data will change hands.

    If nothing else, the current management will die.
    You cannot see into the future ergo you cannot trust it to act with benevolence toward you.
  • by Bombula (670389) on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:42AM (#14705650)
    Faith in Google is misplaced. Google is now a publically traded company, meaning it is owned by shareholders and ruled by the bottom line. Translation: you can kiss the precious "Do No Harm" clause from their mission statement goodbye.

    Hmmm, let's see ... storing all user info in a searchable database on Google's servers (including all documents on users' computers if Google Desktop has its way) is in the best interest of:

    a) The users, who pay nothing;

    b) The advertisers that have made Google a $150 billion company;

    c) The shareholders;

    d) The CIA and NSA.

    Do the math people.

  • What's going on? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyranose (522976) on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:43AM (#14705660) Homepage
    Here's what I think is going on. It's not about Google and China or Google and Trust. It's about Google and the US government. Google stood up to the Bush Justice Dept over search records. Today, generic ones, tomorrow maybe more specific ones.

    The result? A large stock slide and all this speculation on how Google is "not to be trusted." It smacks of Bush tactics -- turn your enemies strength into a weakness. Trust = mistrust, Bad = good, etc...

    Was Time a big supporter of the War in Iraq? Is Time hammering on the latest Bush scandals in anything more than a typical corporate media lipservice kind of way?

    And can anyone explain why Google had a sudden, one-time tax hit that no one else predicted? From what I understand, if not for this 40% tax hit in the last quarter, Google would have beat its Wall St. estimates by a penny or two at least. How is it that analysts didn't see the tax hit coming and yet everyone jumped on Google's sudden "big miss?" Is it possible the tax hit was something the IRS "figured out" after a call from the WH?

    And what exactly is behind all this "Google is really evil with China" crap? Sure, no one outside the Chinese gov't wants censorship there. But it's China that's censoring. Google has to place physical servers in China to offer any level of quality service due to China's meddling with Google.com and other sites. Servers in China are subject to Chinese law, no matter what anyone might want. So it's a choice between self-censoring by law and crappy service.

    For those of you who'd choose "no service" do you practice what you preach? I hope you don't use Chinese products, electronics, clothing. And if the measure of business ethics is whether a given government has done wrong, then why don't you protest all of the other companies that do business with China, or all of the other countries that do wrong, including, at times, the US? Should Google pull out of the US market over Iraq, or secret torture, or unwarranted wiretapping? They tried to stand up to the Bushies, and look what happened so far...

    Oh, it's becuase Google said something about evil. Well, I never took "don't be evil" to mean Google had to be the world's Mother Theresa. No one expected them to donate all their profits to starving children, did they? Or to avoid all advertizing because ads are largely misleading (why else would anyone buy this crap?) "Don't be evil," to me, meant "don't be microsoft"--don't screw your competition--play fair and win on the merits. And they've done just that. They label ads, they even label when they're censoring in China, which is about all one could expect.

    Bottom line: don't trust Google with your sensitive data. Don't trust anyone. Don't even put it where people can steal or subpoena it. Common sense.
    • Huzzah!
    • Let me start with the second-to-last paragraph.
      Google's mantra is "Do no evil" and not "Don't be evil". There's a difference. Read it a couple of times if it's not apparent to you.

      Re: the tax hit. From the company's press release:

      "Primarily because the proportion of total expenses allocated to our international operations was greater than we anticipated, more of our profits were taxed at a higher domestic tax rate; this resulted in a greater effective tax rate compared to our expectations," the company

  • What about other companies like Microsoft (Hotmail, MSN search, MSN messenger, ...) or Yahoo (Yahoo Mail, Search, IM, ...)

    Seems to me that focusing on Google isn't exactly fair when there are several companies who have been in this business much longer.

    -Nick
    • As succinctly pointed out by another fellow ./ in another thread on google, the media hype may not be 'fair' when it focuses on google but no other company today is waiving a "Do no evil" banner. In the words of one of Yahoo's CEO's: "Well, of course you shouldn't be evil. But you also shouldn't have to brag about it either."

      In fact, the very strategy that gained so much trust and support for google may now be backfiring as they try to mediate these conflicts. They need to expand into China, but do you cens
  • by treehouse (781426) * on Monday February 13, 2006 @11:07AM (#14705857)
    Of course not. Everything you post to /. is recorded somewhere. So is everything you said on Wikipedia and every query you ever made on Google, Yahoo, etc. etc. Not to mention all the ads that trace where you've been. And anyone can correlate all that together. So what are your choices? Turn off your computer? Use something like idzap for all your Internet work? Because privacy is dead. All you have is unimportance. As long as you remain unimportant, then no one will care what you do.
  • In the beginning was IBM, and everyone thought it was the sexiest thing around. But then they noticed that IBM had many practises that seemed monopolistic, and the Justice Department took notice, and people came to resent IBM.

    Then along came Microsoft, and everyone thought it was the sexiest thing around. People believed in Microsoft. But in time they came to resent its dominance, and the Justice Department took notice, and now many people hate Microsoft with a passion.

    And then along came Google, and ..

  • We can't trust anybody with our "secrets" - so the obvious solution is to not actually put our "secrets" out there for everybody to know. There are reasons that there is a directory called "public_html" on many a web server.
  • ...between anonymous and private.

    You can't honestly expect to use the internet and be anonymous about it.
    You can use a service and expect a degree of privacy but just because you expect does not equate to being the case.

    All the prolog out of the way - can you really trust anyone? If you want something private, never let it leave your head...if it is truly that important to you.

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