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Google Businesses The Internet Privacy Quickies Your Rights Online

Google Privacy Quickies 76

Posted by kdawson
from the get-over-it dept.
Several notes about Google and privacy. First, Lucas123 informs us that Google's global privacy counsel blogged about an improvement in Google's data-retention policies: the company plans to anonymize data it stores about users after 18 months — a slight improvement on the "18 to 24 months" of the previous policy. This move may have come as a response to pressure from European regulators. Next, Spamicles sends in word that an EFF attorney has been photographed by Google's Street View. The funny thing is, this isn't the first time it's happened. Finally, word from reader tamar that if you choose to share a video from Google Video to another social network like MySpace, your username and password get sent over http in plaintext, rather than the more secure https.
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Google Privacy Quickies

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  • plain text (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @04:32PM (#19483197)
    I call BS regarding the google video thing, we all know it was ROT13'd twice.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That's stupid, the least they could do is use a more optimized version of that algorithm. ROT26 is much faster and uses much less CPU power, therefor being much better for the climate.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by eneville (745111)
      ... in soviet russia google finds you!!
    • > I call BS regarding the google video thing, we all know it was ROT13'd twice.

      That's nowhere near secure enough. I ROT6.5 everything four times.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Kagura (843695)
      And good luck breaking a cipher that doesn't exist! :)

      One might be a god among men to patent dual-ROT13.
  • by DrEldarion (114072) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @04:39PM (#19483299)
    When will people learn that they shouldn't do things in public that they don't want people to see? It's PUBLIC. If you have something you want to hide, then by god don't do it in plain view of everyone!
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @04:46PM (#19483369) Homepage Journal
      This is true of most of the western world, too. It's actually not just true outside, either, but anyplace to which the public has access. For example, in a hotel in which you do not have to pass a guard to gain access to the rooms, it is completely legal to videotape or photograph people in the hallways... This is true at the very least in the US and Canada.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      When will people learn that they shouldn't do things in public that they don't want people to see? It's PUBLIC. If you have something you want to hide, then by god don't do it in plain view of everyone!

      Thing is, this "don't do anything in public" schtick keeps expanding. First, it was "anything on your property", then it was "anything in your house", now it's "anything anywhere someone might have snuck a camera". Last I checked, only most states ban companies from filming you on the toilet.
    • by KillerCow (213458) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @05:34PM (#19483857)
      Zoom the image out and pan a little to the left (above the first parking meter). He's walking in front of a security camera.

      Not pertinent, but thought it was interesting.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @05:55PM (#19484095)
      The problem is when what you are doing is captured permanently 'forever' on a platform that is regularly viewed globally by millions.

      This is very different then being caught on someone's anonymous home video or even a news report which are generally at hot-spots and people are well aware they are being surveilled...

      google's application, although technically cool, seems a bit extreme, for the tired excuse of 'public surveillance', especially sponsored by a for-profit corp.

      a slippery slope, where the for-profit corps should get _none_ of the 'benefit of the doubt'.

  • Is it posted? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gravesb (967413) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @04:40PM (#19483317) Homepage
    Is the privacy policy posted? So anyone who uses Google has the ability to find out how their information will be retained? And they use it anyway? What's the problem? Google doesn't provide an essential service. If you don't like the policy, don't use it. If enough people stop using it, they'll change their policy. Google isn't the government. Once you provide them with information, they have every right to retain it. Personally, I don't think their privacy policy is bad, so I use Google. However, there are other options out there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by micheas (231635)
      I don't think it is reasonable to expect we will expose your password in plain text over the internet to be in a privacy policy.

      There is also the expectation that the privacy policy will be within the confines of the law (Google's doesn't or didn't comply with EU law).

      Google seems to believe that just because they have the corporate motto "don't be evil" means that people will think of them as good.

      It appears that Google is one of the main funders of the recall of a San Francisco Supervisor that voted again
    • Re:Is it posted? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jma05 (897351) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @07:23PM (#19484875)
      Now that Google acquired DoubleClick, Google has far more information than just what users "knowingly" provide it. Google has the ability now to collate your perfectly identifiable personal information (GMail, Checkout) and can match that with info gathered from its ad service when you think you may not be using Google. You no longer know how much Google knows about you. That may be clear to the geeks at Slashdot, but not so for most public out there. If Google wants to claim that they "do no evil", they need to disclose what info they collect.

      Myself included, most people don't care if the data is simply used for anonymous stats and for user profiling for internal use to improve their search performance. As censorship threats grow, we need better laws of disclosure when consumer information businesses grow beyond a certain point. We know ISP logs have been reviewed by the govt. I doubt if similar move has not been made with Google.

      Now for conspiracy theories - Imagine a cabal that collects online records of all citizens for future use so that they may be discredited by their past harmless private behaviors when they develop public lives in time.
    • Once you provide them with information, they have every right to retain it.

      That's far from obvious, actually.

      1) "Once you provide them ..." suggests that all the information they have was given willingly. However, much of their information is obtained incidentally by crawling or other services, which often has nothing to do with consent of the information owner.

      For example, there was a lawsuit by AFP against Google because they were displaying news images that they don't have any rights to display

  • http vs https (Score:3, Informative)

    by tehwebguy (860335) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @04:43PM (#19483343) Homepage
    One of the services which Google Video connects to, MySpace, doesn't ever use https..

    This is the login page:
    http://www.myspace.com/ [myspace.com]

    • by irtza (893217)
      don't you have an option to manually embed the video into any site? This would bypass the sending of anything in plaintext.

      of course if the login for a site is plaintext, there isn't much you can do about it. The real question would be google's retention policy on the username/password field for you ancillary services.
    • by si618 (263300)
      Are you sure about that?

      I don't use MySpace, but I do use Facebook and noted that their login page was http. After reading their privacy blurb which said all sensitive info was encrypted, I sent an email to them and inquired about it.

      I got a very friendly and quick response back saying that login is encrypted, it's just that it happens very quickly. Of course I didn't believe them, so I fired up Wireshark, and sure enough, login was via https://login.facebook.com./ [login.facebook.com]

      I searched through the normal http conver
  • Google PR (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @04:44PM (#19483347)
    Think the timing of these announcements is at all related to the Google's (false) claim that Privacy International is run by a bunch of Microsoft shills yesterday being exposed? They got some bad pr there so this is part of Google's PR damage control. Kind of like Exxon or BP donating a few million bucks to some enviromentally friendly cause, its nice of them but doesnt change whats really going on.
  • by dotpavan (829804) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @04:48PM (#19483391) Homepage
    His take on Google's privacy (and eventual disagreement with Priv. Intl. UK) can be found at his blog [mattcutts.com]
  • by monkeyboythom (796957) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @04:50PM (#19483405)

    Mr. Ken Andrews, of Leighton Road, Slough has concealed himself extremely well. He could be almost anywhere. He could be behind the wall, inside the water barrel, beneath a pile of leaves, up in the tree, squatting down behind the car, concealed in a hollow, or crouched behind any one of a hundred bushes. However, we happen to know he's in the water barrel.

    [BOOM!]

    This demonstrates the value of not being seen.

  • Skewed Odds (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @04:58PM (#19483497)
    I guess if you take up smoking, you will have much better odds being photographed/video'd for these things. First smokers get the 20 minute break every hour to stand around in the nice out doors, now they get featured on google maps as a result. It's just not fair.
  • ...how much of their data retention is because of any pressure from the Bush administration, especially with things like the Patriot Act. It will be interesting to see how Google will act when being pressured by the US to do one thing and by Europe to do the other....
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @05:42PM (#19483957) Homepage Journal
    Robots.txt T-Shirt!
  • Greater Threat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NaCh0 (6124) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @06:01PM (#19484161)
    I think the greater threat to liberty are the people who want to outlaw taking photographs in public.

    As an amateur photographer, it scares me to think I will eventually need to be licensed to carry my Nikon if these "privacy" nazis get their way.

    • by cliath (978599)
      If anything, you'll have to wear a Nikon patch so good photographers can identify you as a Nikon user.

      High noise low ISO 4lyfe!!!!!
    • by Snotman (767894)
      Don't you think there is a difference between taking a photo as an amateur and taking a photo that is being used to generate revenue? I definitely see a difference. For one, if your picture was taken and used by a commercial entity, don't you think you should be asked permission first? After all, they are profiting on your image that you did not agree to distribute. It seems that we all should own the copyright on our own images and distribution is barred unless agreed to by the owner of the copyright. Howe
  • Data retention without an IP is worthless

    http://www.mysecureisp.com/ [mysecureisp.com]

    also.. http://www.blackboxsearch.com/ [blackboxsearch.com]
  • Anonymize _how_? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WalterGR (106787) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @06:24PM (#19484367) Homepage

    Anonymize? How do they plan to do that? AOL released "anonymized" search data - they replaced each unique user with a random numeric ID. And people were tracked down. Consider this New York Times [nytimes.com] article:

    A Face Is Exposed for AOL Searcher No. 4417749

    The number was assigned by the company to protect the searcher's anonymity, but it was not much of a shield. No. 4417749 conducted hundreds of searches over a three-month period...

    And search by search, click by click, the identity of AOL user No. 4417749 became easier to discern. There are queries for "landscapers in Lilburn, Ga," several people with the last name Arnold and "homes sold in shadow lake subdivision gwinnett county georgia."

    It did not take much investigating to follow that data trail to Thelma Arnold...

  • by markjhood2003 (779923) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @06:43PM (#19484481)

    People are pointing out that it's perfectly legal for someone to go down a public street and photograph anybody's front door and window, and are using that as a justification for some of Google's problematic privacy policies.

    As a recent victim of a burglary in San Francisco, I've come to a different point of view. Sure, it's understandable that an individual should be able to walk down my street and photograph all the property there, especially if it's for some personal project, but when a corporation comes around and systematically photographs every house of a huge portion of San Francisco, and then organizes it into a easily accessable database, and all for profit, then that becomes a issue of a different nature.

    In the pre-Google world if a burglar wanted to case a street he or she would have to physically go to that street and take photographs and notes. There is a tangible cost to getting that information that balances out its public availability. Now, all that person has to do is go to Google's street views and get exposed to some ads in order to case out the most vulnerable homes on practically every street in San Francisco. Google's aggregation and packaging of that public information vastly increases the potential for the abuse of privacy, even if the source of that information is public to begin with.

    • So, in your mind, the difference between Google's photographs and photographs taken by any old person is... that in the former case, somebody intends to use them to make money (as if an individual would never use them for the same purpose)? Or is it that in the former case, there's a whole bunch of pictures (because of course an individual would never take multiple pictures)? Or is it that Google's photographs are being given away to anyone who wants them (which an individual who isn't looking to make money
      • the difference [...] is [...] somebody intends to use them to make money

        Nope, anybody is welcome to make money taking pictures of my street if they want. I don't hold copyrights on the view of my house.

        Or is it that [...] there's a whole bunch of pictures

        Getting warmer, but nope. If someone wants to drive an anonymous van down my street taking thousands of photos for their personal use, or most commercial uses, they are welcome to. Of course, I'm also welcome to call the police if I think they look suspicious, but that's almost beside the point.

        Or is it that Google's photographs are being given away to anyone who wants them

        Oh, you're getting so close to the heart of the matter here, but you still are

        • So, then, the problem is that the photos are being given away by a popular service. Obviously, then, only unpopular services should be allowed to give away millions of photos of public places!

          Look, either everyone should be allowed to take and give away as many photos as they can afford, or nobody should be. Which is it?

          • Look, either everyone should be allowed to take and give away as many photos as they can afford, or nobody should be. Which is it?

            If the world were truly that black and white and I had to answer that, I'm afraid I'd have to say, "I don't know." Fortunately it's not, and the question misses the point. I've got no problem with Google taking and giving away as many photos as they can afford, no matter how popular they are. They already do this with Google Images. What worries me is the new level of association of specific photos with specific locations, and thus specific people.

            One of Google's stated goals [google.com] is to "bring all the world's

    • by zrq (794138)

      I don't want to trivialise your recent troubles. You have my sympathy, and I hope that the burglary didn't cause you too much grief.

      However, you seem to be suggesting that GoogleMaps StreetView may make us more vulnerable to crime.

      ... if a burglar wanted to case a street he or she would have to physically go to that street and take photographs and notes ...

      Now, all that person has to do is go to Google's street views .... to case out the most vulnerable homes on practically every street in San Francis

    • by Dokterdok (961082)
      There are two problems with those Google pictures: - There are more people who can see you on the internet than in the street - The picture remains available Now take the exemple of the man who appeared on a picture walking out of a strip club with his face recognizable in hi-def. A bit embarrassing.
      • by Tim C (15259)
        Now take the exemple of the man who appeared on a picture walking out of a strip club with his face recognizable in hi-def. A bit embarrassing.

        If you don't want people to know what you're doing, don't do it in public...

        Sure, it would be embarrassing, but it's not something you can (legally) be fired for, and if your wife/gf gets mad at you for it, well then you shouldn't have been there in the first place, should you?
    • by ghyd (981064)
      By here most houses have gardens. With Google Earth's precision one could easily plan easy access to lots of houses, which in this case is far worst than a front view. So, well, it's technology, we have to do with it, because I feel that it would be a disservice to forbid Google Earth, or to make laws so that all views of the world become private in some ways, out of fear.
  • ...will be going around areas that haven't been Street Viewed with t-shirts, signs, costumes and/or other silliness on the chance that they'll be "immortalized" by Google. HI MOM!
  • Now Google's mooting the idea of a privacy dashboard [zdnet.co.uk]. Sounds... interesting...
  • Quickies? That is either a subtle hint in the title or a freudian slip. But the title seems fitting in that it suggests Google gave privacy a quick shag. :)
  • All this bitching about google's harm to privacy is really ridiculous.

    For starters it is just a mistake to say that google is causing a loss of privacy. Privacy is what you lose when someone peers in your window while your having sex. You haven't lost any privacy, merely obscurity, if someone takes your picture while you are having sex in the public park. Google tells you upfront what information it's collecting and what it's doing with it so you can hardly claim you thought it was totally private and he

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