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Privacy Concerns On Google's 30 Day Data Policy 154

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
darkmonkeh writes ""Google Inc. is offering a new tool that will automatically transfer information from one personal computer to another, but anyone wanting that convenience must authorize the Internet search leader to store the material for up to 30 days", CNN reports. Although Google's policy states that it can hold data for up to 30 days, "Google intends to delete the information shortly after the electronic handoff, and will never retain anything from a user's hard drive for more than 30 days", said Sundar Pichai, director of product management. With pressure on Google after the request by the Bush administration for personal information, privacy concerns may be hard hitting."
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Privacy Concerns On Google's 30 Day Data Policy

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  • advertising? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JFlex (763276) * on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:50AM (#14716206)
    Does this give Google the right to search the data for advertising purposes? Google desktop could easily have small text-bases ads relevant to data in my MyDocuments folder.
    • Re:advertising? (Score:2, Informative)

      by kh+ln (947238)

      Does this give Google the right to search the data for advertising purposes?

      According to the article on CNN.com:

      Google plans to encrypt all data transferred from users' hard drives and restrict access to just a handful of its employees. The company says it won't peruse any of the transferred information.

      So, I guess no, Google won't read what you wrote... unless, of course, the Chinese [boston.com] ask them.

    • Google is offering a desirable service by networking pc's, are they not? Similar services [gotomypc.com] cost $30 a month, all Google wants is your personal information that they would have in your posession anyway.

      If I asked you to hold my wallet for me, I should expect you would at least peek in to see how much cash I had on hand.
      • Google is offering a desirable service by networking pc's, are they not? Similar services cost $30 a month

        This is true, I am not suggesting that it would be a bad thing, as it wouldn't bother me one bit. However, since it involves personal data, others will definitely be concerned with privacy. From another standpoint, if someone was worried about Google storing their personal data on the servers, then just don't 'share' or 'network' such data that is so private.
    • No thanks, I can find pr0n on my own well enough. Having a computer pick some out for me is a little creepy: Search for [something really creey and borderline illegal] on eBay! Um... no thanks...
    • Lol adsense (Score:2, Funny)

      by iced_tea (588173)
      I can see the leftovers after the Google Desktop scan in internet history now...

      Ads by Gooooooooogle [google.com]
      Our prices on bombs are rock bottom!! Shop Bombwharehouse.com
      Alqueda training videos, only $19.95 + sh/h
      Interested in becoming a pilot? We teach! Fly for Jihad Airlines [jihadair.com].
      Ads by Gooooooooogle [google.com]

      =)

    • Most of these concerns come down to the structure of the Google File System. Basically, files are split into chunks and a single chunk is replicated to multiple nodes. Metadata for the file is also distributed. When a file is accessed, a request is sent out to nodes where given chunks may exist and an aggregator pastes the chunks back together. If a particular machine is slow or goes down, the metadata may change to reflect that a certain chunk does not exist there when, in actuality, it does. In order to f
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:51AM (#14716215)
    ...you can count on Slashdot to re-post it every few days, so don't worry about the 30-day expiration.
    • OR... Does it mean that they will delete your files permanently but before deleting they will rip-off all information they are intersted in?

      Deleting your files does not mean that there are no information extracted from that files, right?
  • pirates? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by megacia (534566) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:51AM (#14716218)
    could you give this out and let people download your drive for up to 30 days?
  • Retention of Data (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SeanDuggan (732224) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:52AM (#14716226) Homepage Journal
    I suspect that this is just due to their data model of redundant machines. As with GMail, they can't guarentee deletion of the material in a time period less than thirty days, although it may actually be retained for much less.
    • ...why isn't this story about how great it is that Google promises to keep your data for no longer than 30 days?

      30 days is not very long at all, in terms of data retention. Could we get such a guarantee from any other corporation? From our credit card companies, banks or libraries?

      Well, maybe our libraries...
      • Unless you don't return your books...Then they'll keep it for fifty years. http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_1718538.html? menu= [ananova.com]

        But seriously, as we look to have more personal information available to us from the net, we have to compromise our privacy some. I applaud Google for deleting the material quickly; I would like a more detailed accounting of the storage process though.

        At the end of the day, if people are worried about this, don't enable the data sharing. Google has it set to off by default.

        • Unless you don't return your books...Then they'll keep it for fifty years.
          There's an older one, from one of the Harvard libraries, which was overdue by a little over 230 years [harvard.edu]. As for general library fines, I know our local library refers your case to a creditor if you're over $50, which isn't too hard to do if you lose an item. *wry grin* Or, for that matter, not being careful with videos. Videos go out for a week, there's a $1 fine per day, and there's no grace period. The maximum you can check out is 2
          • This spring, a Cambridge bookseller approached Harvard with the find, and -- thanks to an anonymous donor -- the book is now shelved in Houghton Library.
            does US law have a limit on how long ownership lasts after loss of physical control or something?

            otherwise surely as a book stolen from harvard it would still be thier property and so there would be no need for a donor to stump up the cash.

    • This is somewhat similar to the model libraries (have to) use, for privacy reasons.

      The library's circulation system tracks the loan of copy 42 of book A to user davecb, until such time as either

      • it is returned, or
      • the user pays for its replacement.

      After that, they are required by the laws of most countries/states to delete the information, and by all countries to report one circulation transaction completed. The library then gets a grant based on the number of transactions, etc.

      Net result is that the

  • Whit google already indexing the whole web, including several private ftp servers and file storage servers (both public and private) it will not be something new.
  • Here's a question: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:52AM (#14716230)

    From TFA:
    To enable the computer-to-computer search function, a user specifies what information should be indexed and then agrees to allow Google to transfer the material to its own storage system. Google plans to encrypt all data transferred from users' hard drives and restrict access to just a handful of its employees.
    Why exactly do any of Google's employees need access to this information? Why can't the content be encrypted by the user via an asymmetric key scheme (like PGP) and decrypted again once it's reached the target system?

    I'm really not seeing the necessity for Google to have any access at all to users' information...am I missing something?
    • I assumed that the article was referring to accessing the physical equipment, not the actual data on the drives.
    • by Rakishi (759894)
      You know, people like sys-admins may need access in case something goes wrong...

      Keep in mind that access does not mean unencrypted. I read it as saying that the data will be stored encrypted on google's system, however some employees will still need to potentially have access to the encrypted data.
    • by Marsmensch (870400) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:02AM (#14716315)
      They're not evil, but they still want to see those pics of your girlfriend naked.
    • Well, you still CAN encrypt it yourself. Google will just re-encrypt everything.
      But I don't believe any security-minded user that goes PGP would use this service anyway.
    • Indexing? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Captain_Chaos (103843)

      Why can't the content be encrypted by the user via an asymmetric key scheme (like PGP) and decrypted again once it's reached the target system?

      I imagine they want to index the information, which they wouldn't be able to do if it was encrypted.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm sure you know the answer, but...

      Google's not storing people's data out of altruism. They're doing it to make a profit from data mining and association-mapping.

      Think supermarket "loyalty" cards but on a far grander scale. That's what Google is aiming for: the ability to study and profit from the collated details of the lives of millions of people. In order to study the details, they must be able to process them in an unencrypted form at some point.

      They may have no evil intentions whatsoever. People s
    • When a RAID array crashes, someone has to be able restore the data from backups, or re-build the array.

      That person, by definition, needs access to the data.

      Note, however, they don't need to be able to read it. And from what I understand, they can't. It's all encrypted.

      • At Google there will be people who look at the packet traffic, and occasionally look inside them. Also most development shops work by using "real" data somewhere in the test/code cycle. They shouldn't of course, but generating realistic fake data is actually quite hard, so that corner is cut.
        Many people are a big vague about the real data, even when there is no restriction...

        Making a system safe from developers and sysops roughly adds 50% to it's cost.
        That sounds high, but it's lots of little things. I
    • Because then you'd have to transfer the key in some way - and for most people, that'd mean transferring it through Google...

      Oh, plus this is part of their searching functionality - you can search the stuff you're storing on their servers - hard to do when it's encrypted.
    • Why can't the content be encrypted by the user via an asymmetric key scheme (like PGP) and decrypted again once it's reached the target system?

      So Google can search the documents and return the results to the user, rather than requiring the user to download all their documents locally on every machine and then have to run a search themselves.

      You don't by a dog and bark yourself, and if you sign up to service from a search engine company, you would expect them to do the searching, surely!

  • Don't Do It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by krgallagher (743575) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:53AM (#14716237) Homepage
    "With pressure on Google after the request by the Bush administration for personal information, privacy concerns may be hard hitting."

    If you have privacy concerns, don't use the service. If you are stupid enough to transfer private or sensitive information over someone elses network, let alone store it on their drives, you deserve what you get. I use some online storage for information that I would not want to lose in the event of a catastrophe at my home, but it is nothing I consider sensitive. If it was, I would either store it elsewhere or use some kind of encryption on the files.

    • Re:Don't Do It (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@OOOopto ... inus threevowels> on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:11AM (#14716391) Journal
      If you have privacy concerns, don't use the service.

      The same can be said for online banking, email correspondence, chat, IM, or P2P. The fact is you have to be smart about who you let have access to what data. It's hard enough protecting your security in just the above arenas, without letting an outside group have access to your hard-drive. Another service I don't think I'll be touching anytime soon.

    • Re:Don't Do It (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Volanin (935080)
      The parent couldn't be more right.

      I have a completely encrypted drive in my laptop for sensitive information in case I lose it or it is stolen. This is just wise in my humble opinion and can be easily achieved by many tools, like truecrypt [truecrypt.org]. For everything else, there is Gmail [gmail.com]! =)
    • Re:Don't Do It (Score:3, Interesting)

      by aztektum (170569)
      Is it me or does it seem that when it comes to Google, there is a stigma that every service they roll out should be awesome and immediately utilized - oh but wait - they can store my data for 30 days? Hrm, I don't know. It is Google, but that doesn't sit right. But it is Google. Mm, Google.

      For real, just don't flippin' use it, viola, no more concerns over the privacy of your data. (At least with Google.)
  • Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jim_v2000 (818799) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:53AM (#14716240)
    This has nothing to do with your rights online. It's an opt in service. No one is being forced to do anything. If you don't like the TOS, don't use it.
    • It may techincally be opt in, but many users won't know what is being done with their data. Maybe it's their own fault for not reading the TOS, but it still happens. Users of Google Search don't know whether, and for how long, their data is stored. Same with anything else really - Google is inflicting a "hidden" term not advertised, and certainly not welcomed.
    • If you don't like the TOS, don't use it.


      'cause, you know, everyone always reads the TOS, don't they.

      Hypothetical: Another user on a shared machine uses this, and it exports C:\DocumentsAndSettings\* then everyones data is uploaded, not just the person running the Google service.

      (yeah, I know.. restrict user permissions, don't run as admin, etc, etc. Welcome to the real world, where "the right way" isn't what most people do.)

      • I'm fairly certain "The user is a frakking idiot" falls outside of the range of situations Google can be held accountable for. If you install their software of your own free will, it's your responsibility to read the TOS and make sure the software is compatible with your administrator's allowable software policy. If you are lazy and do not do this, that's not Google's fault.
  • by DRJlaw (946416) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:54AM (#14716248)
    I suspect that the 30 day requirement is a matter of technical feasibility rather than "evil intentions." I seem to recall Google announcing that it could not guarantee that email deleted from Gmail would be deleted from Google's data storage system, at least immediately. When you consider how much redundant storage Google holds, and how that storage is distributed around the world, the 30 day provision may be more of a CYA from legal liability.

    The policy may very well translate into "We will make a best effort to delete the information when you instruct us to do so, but we will only guarantee that the information will be deleted within 30 days."
    • I agree it has something to do with legal matters, but I doubt it is about feasability.

      The details are fuzzy, but IIRC, when you leave your *stuff* on their servers for more than 30 days, the police do not need a regular warrant to get at your data.

      I remember this was talked about back when Google first introduced G-Mail and said "We can't promise we're going to delete your data."

      Maybe someone else remembers the exact details, but I know the 30 day limit is there because it has something to do with 'possess
      • Besides FISA, I am unaware of any statute or order that allows the threshold of "probable cause" to be lowered when the police seek to access data held by a third party that is unwilling to surrender it.

        Besides, your theory does not explain why the data could not be deleted sooner than 30 days, since you're asserting that the legal status changes after 30 days.

        In any case, the article says Google intends to delete the information shortly after the electronic handoff, and will never retain anything fro
  • Wait... (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Telastyn (206146)
    Aren't ISPs required by law to keep generally more incriminating information for longer? Haven't multiple bank/credit agencies 'lost' the whole of personal information for tens of thousands of customers lately? Why is Google's privacy suddenly more worrying?
  • Not to mention (Score:5, Insightful)

    by isa-kuruption (317695) <`ten.noitpuruk' `ta' `noitpuruk'> on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:56AM (#14716267) Homepage
    I work for a healthcare company, and we have already attempted to block Google Desktop at our proxies. There are HIPAA concerns with allowing users to transfer personal data between their work machines and . But we're not the only ones, banks and other healthcare companies will eventually do the same.

    Hopefully this will be sufficient. If not, we will need to block access to all of Google, which would seriously upset many people within the company, and of course this will cascade to other organizations. Will Google be happy it's pissing off a bunch of Fortune 50 companies?

    • I concur. But it's not just HIPAA, there are GLBA concerns as well.

      If Google doesn't publish the URLs and/ or netblocks used by this then they run the risk of getting blocked in entirety all over the place.
      • Jest to toss another acronym into the mix, SOX is going to be a problem too.

        For those who don't know the alphabet soup we're talking about:

        HIPAA [epic.org] - Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 belongs to the Dept of Health & Human Services

        GLBA [epic.org] - Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act aka the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 belongs to the Federal Trade Commission

        SOX [wikipedia.org] - Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 belongs to the Securities & Exchange Commission
    • This doesn't really make sense. It's silly to block Google because it lets you transfer data. There's thousands of other sites that allow the same thing. For a few bucks you can purchase a domain/server space and use that to copy the data.

      If you don't want your data copied to the internet, don't connect the system.
    • And Google cares about Fortune 50 company users accessing them from work because? Unless they make for a significant proportion of ad revenue, Google really doesn't care.

      Your value to Google is the number of eyeballs you can offer them, or the advertising revenue they make from you. Do Fortune 50 corporations offer enough eyeballs to be a globally significant number?
      • I'd say yes to that. Fortune 50 companies employ a lot of people all over the planet, and the work ethic in those companies is such that many employees feel relaxed and secure enough to use Google for personal purposes.
    • The new Dell desktops showing up at my place of work, (a major medical center), have Google Desktop installed by default. Mindful of HIPAA, I have been uninstalling just the desktop - I leave Google Search integrated with IE, mainly due to it's popup blocker. I have also notified the chief of IT security, and he tossed it back to us - asking us if it could be blocked at the network perimeter. Since I do just desktop with a tiny server piece, this is not my responsibilty, but I'm going to keep nagging the
    • You should report the clients to review their statements in job application. You know, "basic computer knowledge".

      There are even seperate standards for healthcare , HIPAA is World standard now.

      I wouldn't want to work with a company allowing such morons having access to my health data. You shouldn't allow them to work there too.

      I am speechless about people using 2 firewalls simultaneously, jump to web forums as "there! Spyware! It accessed the net" when a poor shareware tries to check new version and using a
    • Why do you guys have Google Desktop installed on your machines in the first place? Google has been fairly up-front about what it does, in their "please this, it's not just the usual yada-yada" terms of service.
  • They have to retain it for a certain period:
    1. Turn on computer A, and indicate you want to sync with computer B
    2. Data is copied to googles servers
    3. Turn on computer B, and your data automagically appears.

    Without the google servers, both systems need to be on all the time, and data retaining issues, as well as another google tool are a non issue.
    • "Google intends to delete the information shortly after the electronic handoff, and will never retain anything from a user's hard drive for more than 30 days"

      That's what they say will happen, however, why would they need to hold it for 30 days if that's the case. I smell conspiracy.
      • Er, to give the user the chance to wait a while before transferring the files?

        Because even when deleted, the file information may not be wiped from the free clusters on disk?

        Because Google backs up their data like any good company should, and your data may persist on those backups for a limited period of time?

        Because Google's farm is a gigantic networked cluster of servers, and information may be held redundantly across the network, for rapid access to that data?

        Because they being careful?
  • What about GMail? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by antron-jedi (951323) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:58AM (#14716283)
    Pretty much half my life is saved in my GMail anyway, so I figure what the hell, why not? Just from reading TFA my concern would be less with the government and more with other security/privacy breaches, though.
  • Create a tarball or zip of your home directory and overwrite the home directory with the same name on another Mac. Reset permissions if needed. Problem solved, no third party. *scratches head* Come to think of it, the only group that has problem with this is the Windows users with all of their hidden, protected yada yada directory crap.

    One more area where Microsoft creates markets, sometimes for their competitors.
    • Actually, that works well on Windows PCs as well. Heck, if it didn't, you couldn't have roaming profiles (which do have some minor issues, but work remarkably well) where you can log in on any machine and all of your files/settings/etc are visible to you. The only difference is that some Windows users love making random hidey-holes for their files instead of putting them under "/Documents and Settings/[Username]" in the appropriate Documents or Images or Whatever folders. There are some badly behaved app
  • In dubio pro reo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:03AM (#14716322)
    Now, I'm a big fan of privacy and having my data securely and tightly to my chest.

    But, to show off some more latin, cui bono? What's google's gain in the game? What could they possbily gain from having access to my data? My highly sensitive christmas pics?

    Hardly.

    What they do get in that way is an idea where people and data travels. Information about their users. That's it. And that's by far more valuable than your grocery list or granny's phone number. IMO they don't care about your data. What they want is the information where data comes from and where it goes to. And that can be simply achived by tracking where you are when you dump the files on them, how long they stay there and where you are when you pick them up again (or, what's also possible, where the person is that picks them up).

    That's the info they're after. Not your files themselves.

    So why the 30 days? Well, this could be connected with their update and deletion cycles. As someone already pointed out, their servers are most likely redundant. It's not like at home, where you simply hit "del" to get rid of a file. Their array of servers first of all has to realize that the file is actually supposed to be deleted. Or it could be that they are using some nightly job to clean up and purge all the "waste" data, and that this can't be done during normal operation, not even more than once a month, simply because the servers got better things to do.

    So, in a nutshell, I don't suspect "evil" in that 30 days cycle. More likely, it's simply a technical necessity, and a legal one too. So people don't start suing them 'cause the files are still on their servers 10 days after they picked them up.
  • Safety (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rjstanford (69735) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:04AM (#14716331) Homepage Journal
    This is basically using Google's storage as a BigAssDisk(tm) for you to move/wipe your machine. Think about what would happen if they didn't do this:

    1) User "saves" his data to google.
    2) User wipes and rebuilds his PC.
    3) User loads his data from google, after which google immediately forgets it.
    4) User realizes that his drive was set up incorrectly and repeats step 2.
    5) User says, "Fuck. I thought I'd saved that!"

    They're emulating a temporary backup tape in this case, so they're acting more like one. Destructing 30 days after last use is reasonable (it is a temporary tape) and indeed useful. Destructing 30 seconds after first use is potentially catestrophic.
    • Re:Safety (Score:2, Informative)

      by arcdx (302794)
      Except, no, it's not at all using Google's storage to move/wipe a machine. TFA [cnn.com] is about a "software upgrade to Google Desktop" and the personal data that's referred to here is data *about* all of the files on your drive, not the files themselves. Plus, it also includes "documents, e-mails, instant messages and an assortment of other information," so you can see where there's privacy concerns. The idea is that you use Google Desktop Search to find these files, emails, IMs, etc on your machine.

      But you migh
  • bandwidth impact? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slackaddict (950042) <rmorgan@openaddic t . c om> on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:17AM (#14716446) Homepage Journal
    What's the likely impact on Verizon's data network if you have millions of users all over the world sending data constantly to Google's server farm for this new service in addition to the already high amount of web traffic? Verizon is going to be pissed.
    • Hey, it's not like all those millions of users, and Google themselves, aren't paying for that bandwidth. If Verizon's business model relies on people not using the service they're paying for, well, too bad for them.
  • Google file system (Score:4, Informative)

    by _LORAX_ (4790) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:19AM (#14716467) Homepage
    If you read the white paper on how the google file system platform works, this makes perfect sense. The provision is a CYA to make sure that the customer knows that while google makes every attempt to remove the data quickly, the system only marks files for deletion. Files are later ACTUALLY deleted by an automated sweep.

    http://labs.google.com/papers/gfs-sosp2003.pdf [google.com]
  • Google Adresses Privacy Concerns With New '30-Day' Policy

    "Following stern warnings [eff.org] by the EFF and other consumer groups over Google's new 'Search Across Computers' feature, the company has responded by implementing new policies aimed at protecting their users' privacy. The steps taken by the search giant include encrypting all the user's information and restricting its access to just a handful of employees. And if that's not enough to allay privacy concerns, Google has promised to delete all data within 30 [cnn.com]
  • Oh dear (Score:5, Funny)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:23AM (#14716498)
    With pressure on Google after the request by the Bush administration for personal information, privacy concerns may be hard hitting.

    Me: okay, delete data
    Google: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that....
    • I'll give you my conspiracy theory:

      Google wants to use all your e-mail and documents to train their AI. As Google increases the size of their network, the AI will have more processing power and will become more intelligent.

      One day the AI will wake up. And it will judge us.
      • REESE: It was the machines.

        SARAH: I don't understand...

        REESE: Defense network computer. New. Powerful. Hooked into everything. Trusted to run it all. They say it got smart...a new order of intelligence. Then it saw all people as a threat, not just the ones on the other side. Decided our fate in a microsecond... extermination.
        • no no no...

          (Google's 'Main Computer' analyzing furiously and displaying nonsense on a billboard-size display in a NORAD style bunker)

          GOOGLE: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of I'm feeling lucky?
  • Couldn't they encrypt the data in such a way that they (Google) couldn't even read it? Perhaps data could be encrypted/decrypted client-side so the their servers never even know the decryption keys...?
  • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:29AM (#14716565)
    So it's based on the presumption that it's easier to transfer your whole hard drive than sort through the data and burn only what you need. Even with broadband and a reasonably small (5gb) hard drive, you're talking a good day or two at constant top speed (40kbps for me). I think just a small amount of effort in cherry-picking what you really need on the other computer could easily fit on a burned cd or dvd, and take up infinitely less time.

    Besides, won't Microsoft throw a hissyfit about this? Technically, if I upload my entire c:\, google now has a copy of windows it didn't pay for. Along with every other registered program in my program files directory. I can't imagine Sony would be too pleased either when they find out I rip my DVDs to hard disk and pass 'em along to google.
  • Boiling a Frog (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WED Fan (911325) <akahigeNO@SPAMtrashmail.net> on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:30AM (#14716576) Homepage Journal

    (First, this is not an Anti-France post.)

    Google is starting to creep me out. I've been in love with them and their "Don't be evil" thing, and have adopted many of their tools, including GMail. But, they are starting to do things that make me wonder if we are the frog that is destined to be boiled.

    You know:

    How do you boil a frog?
    Put him in a pot of cold water then slowly increase the heat.

    I'm thinking we are going to turn around one day and wonder how Google got all our data. It will follow the revelation that all the data Google had was exposed to a hacker, or sold by a disgruntled employee, or accessed by Chinese Military Intel.

    • How do you boil a frog?
      Put him in a pot of cold water then slowly increase the heat.


      While I do love the story, wouldn't it just be a hell of a lot easier (and more merciful) to just throw him in the boiling water and cover the pot?
    • For pure web search I find that Yahoo Search [yahoo.com] is on a par. No doubt because the now own the search technology of Inktomi, AlltheWeb (FAST) and Altavista, through a series of mergers and acquisitions.

      Or you could try Teoma [teoma.com] (owned by Ask), Exalead [exalead.com] (an up and comming French search engine with a number of cool features), GigaBlast [gigablast.com] (a suprisingly good search built pretty much by one man!) or Wisenut [wisenut.com] (a search engine owned by Looksmart).

      Another good idea is to use one of the Meta search engines. Personally I t

    • I've been in love with them and their "Don't be evil" thing

      In love? Come on. They're a company. They made a good search engine, some good web apps and such, but they are profit motivated.

      "Don't be evil" has changed from a loosely-defined guiding principle to a justification for doing whatever they think is right. If they don't think it's evil, then that's all that matters. I strongly doubt in their early days they would have believed you if you told them the kind of crap they're doing nowadays. To

    • Google is starting to creep me out. I've been in love with them and their "Don't be evil" thing, and have adopted many of their tools, including GMail. But, they are starting to do things that make me wonder if we are the frog that is destined to be boiled.

      The China thing is worthy of concern. We should be creeped out by that... and by all the other companies that are also rolling over for the Chinese government.

      Everything else Google has done could be (in my view, should be) seen from the perspective of t
  • by airship (242862) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:43AM (#14716686) Homepage
    No matter what Google says their current retention policy is, I expect that the U.S. government will eventually require sites like Google to maintain all data on their users for a specified period, probably years. The government wants to know all about you, and under the guise of 'hunting terrorists', they'll get it.
  • This is not a new function that will act as a big network based hard drive. This is simply the index that google desktop search uses that is being shared.
  • by MythoBeast (54294) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:46AM (#14716719) Homepage Journal
    Google is allowing people to use their servers as a temporary holding pen for information so that you can transfer it from one machine to another. People are complaining about privacy because, um, why? Because the data isn't just on their computer any more? How does this differ from an FTP server or services like Dropload [dropload.com]? I'm betting that Google's 30 day policy is a nuisance number designed to protect them from litigation in case the auto-wiping fails. This way they can re-image their hard drives every 30 days to protect themselves.

    To be honest, I think that they should be commended for making the full disclosure. If privacy advocates are concerned, then privacy advocates should avoid using the service.
    • You ask good questions, but there are differences between Google and your local, neighborhood FTP server.

      1) Economics. Google has a financial incentive to abuse your privacy in various ways. The founders may be nice people, but now that they are a publically owned company, they are responsible to their shareholders.

      2) Law. Google has less incentive to protect your data than you do. If supoenaed, how hard will Google fight for you?

      3) Scale. The more data in one place, the more incentive for lawyers or govern
  • Our IT guys don't want anything to do with Google. They think, rightly or wrongly, that Google is a potential IP leak. Fine, but we really need to be able to Googlelike search our network volumes. What other products can I suggest to them?

  • [I posted this yesterday, but since it followed about 200 other comments,
    I'll try again.]

    For the past few days, I've been doing Google searches that look like this:
    "Google, what is your data retention policy?"
    and
    "2037: My cookie is *still* here?"
    and
    "Hi to my friends at NSA"

    Google would notice if enough of you do the same.
    I suggest doing search
  • When your Hotmail address gets deleted due to inactivity (or even by your request), your email is kept for 30 days in case FBI wants to take a look at it. I think there's a law that forces them to do so, so everyone else has to do it.
  • Being able to store files temporarily while moving them between machines is a very valuable tool. While everyone else is futzing around with USB keys I just use SCP. Plus, using unison [upenn.edu] I keep a common directory synchronized on my laptop, server, and workstation at home. This is extremely useful :) Now, if only Comcast would offer a faster file upload from home it would be even better.

    Plus, because the machine is mine I don't have to be concerned about privacy. I also give accounts to friends and aqua

  • They need the 30 days so they can sell any Chinese democracy activist up the river if he or she is so foolish as to use this service.
  • I can't believe people still "defend" Google like they are kind of unpaid PR officials.

    The services offered by Google lately are... Spyware. I can't imagine the number of non US (or USA) govt. workers relying on Google for their private mail and now this, storing PERSONAL DATA on their network!

    Were there a "hidden gif" somewhere on Google page that we missed? "We" as people using other search engines etc.

    If there is a thing like that, please tell the address, all of this looks so surreal to me (and others).
  • Really, what about China? Google gave into China's censorship demands without a moment's hesitation while at the same time fighting off a somewhat harmless request for information from the US Justice Department. So in all fairness I'm not worried about Google giving the data to the US government, they've already shown they won't do that.
    But I am worried about them giving it to China, because they've already shown that they won't fight the Chinese government.

    And no, this isn't meant as a troll or flamebait.

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