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Google Privacy Your Rights Online

Google Defends Privacy Policies 114

Posted by kdawson
from the data-liberation-front dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Google responded to a letter from 10 international privacy commissioners who criticized the company's approach to privacy, insisting that Google protects its customers and has moved quickly to make changes regarding Google Buzz. In a letter to the commissioners, global privacy counsels for Google stated, 'We are committed to being transparent with our users about the information that we collect when they use our products and services, why we collect it, and how we use it to improve their experience.' The April inquiry from the officials included privacy commissioners from Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, and the UK."
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Google Defends Privacy Policies

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:38PM (#32165270)

    Online service backtracks after privacy overshare. We'll monitor this story overnight and have a full report to you on the Really Early Local News. We start before normal people wake up.

  • by syousef (465911) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:39PM (#32165284) Journal

    Transparent, as in not visible. Or at least buried deep in license agreements no one reads.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jurily (900488)

      Transparent, as in not visible. Or at least buried deep in license agreements no one reads.

      Those who care, will read it. And they'll make a big fuss about it, to which hopefully Google will respond some day...

      Google needs your data, just like how you need Google. Search is their core business, after all. What we need to make sure is that those TOS and agreements are not just some legal stuff to make the whiners go away, and it's in their enlightened self-interest to make sure we can verify it. Google is not Microsoft: it won't cost you days of work and months of learning to move away from their p

      • by pchan- (118053)

        Google needs your data, just like how you need Google. Search is their core business, after all. What we need to make sure is that those TOS and agreements are not just some legal stuff to make the whiners go away, and it's in their enlightened self-interest to make sure we can verify it. Google is not Microsoft: it won't cost you days of work and months of learning to move away from their products if they piss you off, and they know it.

        You are mistaken, advertising is their core business. Search, email, maps, mobile operating systems, these are just hooks to lure in the product (users) to sell to the advertisers. Protecting your privacy is contrary to their entire business model, which is to sell targeted advertising based on collected data. They will change some wording around to placate loud complaints, but at their core they will continuously encroach into your personal information as best as they can.

      • > What we need to make sure is that those TOS and agreements are not just
        > some legal stuff to make the whiners go away, and it's in their enlightened
        > self-interest to make sure we can verify it.

        Since I have no Google accounts I have no contract with Google and therefor those agreements are irrelevant to me [1]. Since I have no contract with Google any information they gather as a result of my viewing their Web pages is theirs to do with as they will. Therefor I see to it that they gather no non

    • You don't read licence agreements? o.O
  • Facebook? Bueller? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rueger (210566) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:43PM (#32165318) Homepage
    Given the horrid behavior of Facebook over the last month I'm feeling a lot better about Google. Maybe they're equally sleazy, but at least they don't whack you over the head with their sleaze.

    If anything it's Facebook's "We honestly don't give a shit what you think 'cause millions of others won't care what we do as long as they've got Farmville" attitude that annoys me more than the privacy issues.
    • by Nemyst (1383049) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:18AM (#32165522) Homepage
      Right now I'd say I'm more worried about what the government or my ISP will do with my private information than I am by what Google will do with it.
      • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:41AM (#32165644) Journal

        Right now I'd say I'm more worried about what the government or my ISP will do with my private information than I am by what Google will do with it.

        Remember, kids: Any information that Google has about you is only a subpoena or warrant away from being in the hands of a third party. So don't forget to toss your cookies, wash your cache, and renew your IP.

      • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmytheNO@SPAMjwsmythe.com> on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:56AM (#32165724) Homepage Journal

        There are bigger things to worry about than Facebook.

            Privacy threats on the Internet, in order of risk (IMHO) are:

            1) The computer user. Why are you using the same password for everything including your bank, and why is it "FluffyBottoms123"? I love your new MSIE toolbar though.

            2) Malware on the PC.

            3) Admins sniffing in/out LAN traffic (mostly office environments). Don't be surprised when you get fired for downloading porn, they are watching.

            4) ISP Admins sniffing in/out WAN traffic (by design or by malicious admin with too much access).

            5) Webmail hosting providers (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! mail, etc). Your primary email is key to everything you do online, and just because you deleted that message doesn't mean it really went away.

            6) Overzealous social networking providers (such as Facebook). OMG! Like they know who your BFF is since middle school, and that your mood is "happy like a little butterfly". {barf}

            7) The government. The signal to noise ratio is so high even with the "secret" fat pipes going into government closets, they may never notice you.

            8) The admin of that one porn site you frequently regularly to look for freaky porn. (keyword searches and access logs are an interesting place to search). Stop searching for "underage midget bestiality" already, and have another look at #3.

            On #3, as soon as I learned that one place was doing content filtering, with the ability to log, I set up a PPP over SSH tunnel on an obscure port, and put my default route over it. Suddenly I don't surf the net at all, but there is a lot of encrypted traffic on port 31337. I blame streaming radio. :) I have nothing to hide, but I may not want to advertise everything I do. Almost anything can be construed as inappropriate. It all depends on how it's presented. Don't believe me? Sit in on a few open court sessions sometime. "Bob was helping the little boy across the street" is what the defense says. The prosecution says "Bob caressed his hand, as he walked the boy towards what police described as a place where the defendant obviously took young children, softened them up with candy, and had his way with them". (btw, the "candy" could be a single empty snickers wrapper from that last road trip Bob took).

        • I think you have the right threats, but in tht wrong order.

          Governments are a huge threat because they can get everything, and they have the resources to correlate the different databases (phone calls, web browsing, tax records, whatever) against each other.

          Threats on the LAN do not bother me: if its private do it at home or buy a private netbook and a mobile connection.

          1) and (largely) 2) are within my control, as are 5) and 6) (to an extent).

          • by JWSmythe (446288)

            The government threat is highly over rated. It takes raising a pretty big red flag for them to start gathering information. You have to consider, if you're only looking at people in the US (citizens, visitors, and immigrants pending citizenship), that's an awful large pool to be seen in. If you or I got their attention, we'd have to be doing something way more significant than millions of others.

            I already know I have files with at least a few government agencies. At one of

            • So you are either a homeless person with a borderline paranoid personality disorder OR a modern day hipster Jason Bourne without combat training.

              Imagine if you put all of that effort into a humanitarian job.
              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by JWSmythe (446288)

                Are you sure I haven't had combat training?

                • Yes, I am absolutely certain you do not have comba______

                  *Sound of a gun with a silencer firing*

                  *Sound a slashdot poster falling to the floor*
                  • by JWSmythe (446288)

                    Damn, this identity is burnt.

                    [lights passport on fire]

                    Oh look, he has a nice watch. Hmm, he does look a lot like me.

                    [tappity][tappity]

                    And he has $18,000 in the bank.

                    [digs around in the desk]

                    And a passport valid through 2014.

                    [tappity][tappity]

                    Oh and look he just booked a ticket to Munich.

                    [tappity][tappity]

                    "Dear boss, I need to take some personal

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vandan (151516)

        Precisely. Let's remember that it was Google who told the US government to take them to court before they'd hand over search query data. I'm not saying Google is perfect. But as the post above notes, Google collect data for the sole purpose of providing targeting data to their customers - advertisers. Worst-case scenario is that some advertisers have slightly more information on your browsing habits. This is far from the end of the world.

        But you are spot on when you worry about the government getting their

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by the_womble (580291)

          Governments are blocking that kind of discussion. The web sites banned in Australia include a euthanasia site and a pro-life site.

        • - criticism of big business

          Which is the most disturbing, for obvious reasons.

          The reality is that corporations own America's legislature. Given Google's relative lack of evil compared to other corporations and corporate ownership of congress, wouldn't you rather see Google throw their money and resources at a congressmen in favor of net neutrality and other stuff we like? Lesser of two evils and all.

          The silver lining of the American government's corporate ownership is that at least one will be on our

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kpau (621891)
        Why are you automatically at ease with a corporation versus a government? Neither one has *your* best interests in mind when dealing with you.
        • by Nemyst (1383049)
          For Google, I am a customer and their main source of revenue. If I leave and others do like me, Google dies. Some may say the customers are advertisers and websites displaying the ads, but the truth is that this entire business is based off the premise of someone using the services.

          For my government, I am a nuisance that must be kept under control, watched and neutered so as to cause no problems for them. I am merely there to provide a vote (which is pretty much useless at this time since all parties are
    • High Bar (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MushMouth (5650) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:27AM (#32165562) Homepage

      Better than shitty can still be shitty

      • by siloko (1133863)
        Er no. Better than shitty is by definition 'Not shitty'. If it were shitty it would be 'shitty', plain and simple. Better than shitty may simply be 'better than shitty', or it may be something more prosaic, like 'acceptable', however what it definitely isn't is just 'shitty'. Less than one is be definition not one.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hognoxious (631665)

          Better than shitty is by definition 'Not shitty'. If it were shitty it would be 'shitty', plain and simple. Better than shitty may simply be 'better than shitty', or it may be something more prosaic, like 'acceptable', however what it definitely isn't is just 'shitty'. Less than one is be definition not one.

          Shitty isn't a measurement[1], it's an adjective. Are all fat people equally fat?

          [1] If it is, what units is it in?

          • by siloko (1133863)
            You mean taking words to be logically distinct categories can be erroneous? Actually that explains quite a lot . . .

            But to push the 'joke' further: No, not all people are equally fat - but 'more than fat' is by definition not 'fat'. It might be obese, or humongous, but it is not 'fat'. Obviously what constitutes fat is subjective but the point remains . . .
    • Given the horrid behavior of Facebook over the last month I'm feeling a lot better about Google. Maybe they're equally sleazy, but at least they don't whack you over the head with their sleaze.

      That's because Google hasn't been caught. Oops. [google.com]

      • did you read the reply?

        1 and 3. Clicking "turn off buzz" hides the Buzz label, but doesn't delete the content you've posted, including comments. You'll need to delete those directly if you want to erase your footprint entirely. Check out the article linked below for more.

        2. Actually, this isn't true. When you @reply someone, you can see their address because they were previously in your contacts. However, this address isn't exposed to others viewing the post.

        4. Interesting. I have some theories on why that might be happening but will look into it.

        5. Yep, that's a known issue, although it doesn't have any effect.

        I tried it and cannot seen any emails on comments when I log out (I actually cannot see the comments either.)

        http://www.google.com/profiles/101337690637283539403#buzz [google.com]

        And I tried the account the next reply had but do not see any email addresses, just likes to their buzz profile when they are public

        http://www.google.com/profiles/gallant.allison [google.com]

      • by dudpixel (1429789)

        caught? you think they put the bugs there intentionally? seems like a strange feature dont you think?

        There's a difference between intentionally leaking data and discovering a bug and fixing it immediately. Google did work very quickly to patch the holes that were discovered in Buzz immediately after it first launched.

        Facebook suffers from the same thing, but when people complain about facebook's lack of privacy features, they're generally referring to facebook's intentional moves to make their users' pri

        • Facebook suffers from the same thing, but when people complain about facebook's lack of privacy features, they're generally referring to facebook's intentional moves to make their users' private info public.

          Sorry, but when one of your lead developers admits to infecting your users purposely on video, and you do NOTHING about it, you've lost all credibility. Fook Facebook AND Zynga games.

          • by dudpixel (1429789)

            fair enough. you may have heard there is some upset between facebook and zynga right now - with zynga threatening to leave and start up their own website.

            I personally look forward to a facebook without farmville!

  • This bothers me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Andorin (1624303) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:48PM (#32165342)
    Being a Slashdot reader, I haven't actually read the article, but this line from the summary bugs me:

    'We are committed to being transparent with our users about the information that we collect when they use our products and services, why we collect it, and how we use it to improve their experience.'

    Google doesn't collect peoples' information for the happy, innocent purpose of improving their experience. They collect peoples' information to make money. Why can't they be honest about that?

    It doesn't even make it okay to do both.

    • Re:This bothers me (Score:4, Insightful)

      by blackraven14250 (902843) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:53PM (#32165388)
      In a twisted way, seeing relevant ads is an improvement of the user experience. I don't wanna see ads for online pharmacies selling Viagra, and getting relevant ads is an improvement.
      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        Cynical much? Obviously you don't have a loved one who makes you to sit through the ads cause they like 'em. Not everyone sees online ads as useless or disruptive.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EdIII (1114411)

        In a twisted way, eating Soylent Green is an improvement over the experience of starving to death. Starving to death sucks, and taking my chances of being scooped up by a truck is better.

        There fixed that for you.

        My point being that sometimes the price of that improvement just isn't worth it in the long run. AdBlock Plus solves the problem quite nicely without divulging all of your personal information to Google.

        • by dudpixel (1429789)

          um, you could always just not use google. I mean, their whole business revolves around advertising and if you dont like advertising then what do you expect them to do, work for free?

          Shame on them for running a successful business. Here's a tip - every business needs advertising. If targeted advertising didn't exist, most of us wouldn't have jobs.

          Not saying you have to look at them - that's your choice. But suggesting that google shouldn't advertise to us is just naive and ridiculous.

          • Can you also stop all the sites out there to stop using google ads? I don't use Google, but can still tracked by them.
          • by EdIII (1114411)

            I believe you misunderstood me. What I was saying is that is not worth it to divulge personal information to Google, like emails, documents, etc. and especially not your identity so they can tie search results in with it.

            Some search terms in their search engine resulting in targeted advertisement at that level is not as worrisome when you are obfuscating your IP address and identity anyways.

            As far as advertisements on Google goes, I could care less. I have AdBlock plus on anyways and don't ever intend to

        • Running relevant ads is the only thing that makes half of the internet profitable. Why do you think Google is such a success, all those amazing products they sell constantly to everybody? How about most of the news sites? /.? I could go on and on with websites supported by ads - none of which would be possible without some data mining.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by EdIII (1114411)

            .... and none of it is worth losing your privacy or anonymity over it. None of it.

            The risks associated with data mining are not as benign as a few corporations forcing relevant ads in front of your face all day. It's a little bit more involved and complex than that. I could go tin-foil-hat on you all day long, but let's just leave it at it's too dangerous to have that much personal information in public. The public loses the best protection it ever had, could had, and will have, its privacy and anonymit

            • So, you'd rather lose half (if not more) of the content on the internet than let companies like Google have the anonymized usage data?
              • by EdIII (1114411)

                So, you'd rather lose half (if not more) of the content on the internet than let companies like Google have the anonymized usage data?

                I would choose to loose all the Internet rather than let any company have usage data on me, or any other citizen, in any country.

                Whether or not that data is anonymous is a matter of semantics and transient circumstances at this point. The claim by a company that they will only provide the non-anonymous usage data to 3rd parties in an anonymous form is only valid if you truly

                • by yuhong (1378501)
                  Well, does the PATRIOT Act really have requirements to retain any user data?
                  • by EdIII (1114411)

                    In an indirect way yes.

                    However, that was not what I was specifically referring to.

                    release such data on demand, and punish companies that acknowledge this is actually happening

                    The Patriot Act allowed the use of NSL's (National Security Letters) to be used to force businesses to disclose confidential information regarding customers and to punish, criminally, any disclosure that the NSL even existed.

                    The NSL's themselves effectively bypassed Constitutional protections, and Judicial protections, regarding the ab

                    • by yuhong (1378501)
                      I know, I read all about it. The best solution of course would be to fix the government, but it is not that easy. It will be worth it though.
        • by Caetel (1057316)
          But Adblock only works when the minority are using it. If ad blocking was performed by the majority of web users, then much of the content of the Internet would cease to exist, at least no financial cost form.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by gmhowell (26755)

        In a twisted way, seeing relevant ads is an improvement of the user experience. I don't wanna see ads for online pharmacies selling Viagra, and getting relevant ads is an improvement.

        You're more of a penis pump kinda guy?

    • Re:This bothers me (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kappa962 (1583621) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:53AM (#32165718)

      Google doesn't collect peoples' information for the happy, innocent purpose of improving their experience. They collect peoples' information to make money. Why can't they be honest about that?

      I can't disagree with your second sentence, but I see no reason to believe the first. Why would you think that they don't do both, and why isn't it ok to make money simultaneously with improving user's experiences?

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Or... *gasp*! Make money BY improving user experience so that their product is BETTER than competitors', driving users to them and therefore making more money?!

    • by Psaakyrn (838406)

      -- People are clueless.
      -> People do not know what they want or need.
      -> Someone needs to give them what they want or need.
      -> Enter Google.

      Or in short, delivering targeted ads is the method of how they improve people's experience.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by amRadioHed (463061)

      They are being honest about it. The "why we collect it" part of their quote is the part about them making money, I don't recall them ever pretending not to have more money then god. Improving the users experience is a big part of that however, since they don't make money if the users stop using.

    • by Dhalka226 (559740)

      You're both spinning it in opposite directions, which is easy to do because you're both right.

      Google is trying to make money. I don't think they will ever claim otherwise. That said, if the things they do, the things they give away (in exchange for your data), the ways that data gives them an edge in their core functionalities doesn't improve the users' experience, the users are going to slowly bleed off to competitors. And obviously that's bad for the cash flow.

      Seeing relevant ads is still far bette

    • Hey, they have to stay afloat somehow. I'd rather have it be targeted advertising than outright selling my info or spamming me. That makes them better than 95% of the advertising networks on the internet.

      Using Google's services improves the end user experience, and Google can only provide those services if they make money.

    • I'm also a frequent /. reader so I haven't actually read the piece either. Of course, that's never really a deterrent for a proper geek. I have to just point out - being that rare geek that is also a capitalist pig - that Google "collecting information to improve user experience" is equal to Google "collecting information to make money." Andorin wrote:

      Google doesn't collect peoples' information for the happy, innocent purpose of improving their experience. They collect peoples' information to make money.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:54PM (#32165396) Journal

    [Jane Horvath and Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsels for Google] pledged to ensure "that privacy is designed into our products at every stage of the development cycle"

    They're just pledging to do this now?

  • better solutions? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by viperblades (576174) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:06AM (#32165470)

    it's easy to say 'google doesnt value privacy' . however i have yet to see someone make a post in any of these stories about an alternative search engine that
    - gives just as good of results as google
    - has a history of protecting privacy (google resisted a court order from the government as much as they could. other search engines happily complied)

    the deal with search engines is simple. if you want a good working search engine that supports MILLIONS of users you are either going to have to pay or the search provider will need to use advertising. also said search provider is going to need to mine search results to give better results and when the government brings a patriot act court order , any business is going to comply.

    do you think bing, yahoo and altavista would tell the US government "we'll take jail over handing you these records"? atleast google's owners tell you if you don't want your searches for something recorded, dont do them online in a non-anonymous way because it recorded. do you see another search provider doing that?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Stan92057 (737634)
      I don't have a problem with google serving us with ads based on our search queries,its a fair exchange. But beyond that google or any other search Provider, has no business building up some kinda advertising profile of my wed history. That is far and beyond the service they provided me i believe.They don't need my IP number,they don't need to know what web site i choose or anything else except the search term i use to serve me an ad.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BikeHelmet (1437881)

        Then...
        1) Don't login while searching.
        2) Clear your flash cookies.
        3) If you logged in while searching, regularly clear your search history from the Google control panel. It will still be retained for several months, but probably won't be actively used to serve you anything. Just passively used for larger scale statistics.

        Note: You will still be tracked. For more info, read on: http://www.ghostery.com/ [ghostery.com]

        P.S. I respect Google for being so truthful about how things are.

        • by Stan92057 (737634)
          Why should i or anyone else have to jump through hoops not to be spied on. And we don't need to be logged in in-order to be tracked,they just use our IP Address. Also Google has a program to stop them from adding cookies,It doesn't work,every single day my anti virus removes tracking cookies,they happen to be doubleclick cookies,they belong to google.Nuf said! I remember when google first came out, it was a time during everyone was spying, tracking, using horrible flashing banner ads. Google had NO graphic
          • But beyond that google or any other search Provider, has no business building up some kinda advertising profile of my wed history.

            I answered your primary complaint.

            As I already said, they will still be tracking you - they just won't use it to customize search results, and they won't have an account to associate with their tracking data and statistics.

            so google isn't this do no evil company,there just getting there slower then everyone else.

            I agree. But unlike many companies, they haven't stopped innovating. If you look at the other giants in the industry, they have to rely on attacking their competitors. Google makes the occasional questionable move, but they still primarily innovate to survive. That's good.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      - gives just as good of results as google
      - has a history of protecting privacy (google resisted a court order from the government as much as they could. other search engines happily complied)

      http://ixquick.com/ [ixquick.com]

      I've been using them for years, and it's continually improved. I replaced the default search engine in Firefox with Ixquick HTTPS search. My searches are sent via POST and travel over HTTPS. My IP is *never* recorded.

      The results that Ixquick gives me are very good. Occassionally, I'll use something different like Yahoo, but that is very infrequent. They also offer a proxy service, though I haven't used it.

      • by Andorin (1624303)
        +1. I've been using StartPage [startpage.com] for a while, which is run by ixquick. Admittedly, it sometimes doesn't give me what I'm searching for, but it usually does, and they do not record your IP address at all. Very privacy-oriented.
      • Awesome timing, since Scroogle [slashdot.org] died yesterday. =\

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Malyven (774978)
      Or do you see another search engine providing as much internal Data as google does? I have yet to see another site like http://www.google.com/governmentrequests/ [google.com] Sure it's not super detailed but it's a hell of lot better than anything else out there.
    • "gives just as good of results as google"

      That's easy, Google from some years ago. Back then Google didnt
      have as many other services that created detailed maps of people's lives.

      I like privacy, but i'm willing to trade a minor part of it for an ok web-search.
      What i never accept is to give up anything more then that.

      Nowadays Google isnt even asking our permission before silently mapping
      our existance in great detail.
      And Google wants more. Seems they want to know Everything about
      Everyone.
      I think no one should h

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Tromad (1741656)

      http://duckduckgo.com/privacy.html [duckduckgo.com]
      They don't keep search logs. I am not connected in any way other than occasionally using it.

  • especially with their most recent round of egregious bullshit, but does anyone actually use Buzz? I was messing around with it earlier today, and it seems a lot less annoying than Facebook; I just don't think I know ANYONE that uses it. Maybe it's just still too new? It's hard to say, but the way FB does things is getting more ridiculous all the time.
    • by Daengbo (523424)

      You need to realize when using Buzz that most stuff you post is public. You can change the setting to "private" very easily inside the post (and it remembers the setting for next time), but your public profile is ... public. That makes it a little more like Twitter than like Facebook.

      Check your profile page and decide if you're comfortable with that.

  • by b4upoo (166390)

    The privacy nuts are rather like the abortion nuts. Although there are many views only one side pushes forward. Just as we never see gangs of protesters marching for abortion but only against abortion we see only the privacy freaks protesting the supposed evils of free information. Some people seem to only feel safe if they are living totally obscured from the view of all others.
    What they never come close to confronting is the f

    • Re:Privacy Nuts (Score:4, Insightful)

      by KahabutDieDrake (1515139) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:38AM (#32165622)
      So then of course the obvious answer, since we can't have privacy, is to flood the world with information about every single person... so long as you have enough money to pay for that information.

      That's a MUCH better logical situation. It's still bullshit, but that didn't stop you, so why should it stop me?
    • Re:Privacy Nuts (Score:5, Interesting)

      by OrwellianLurker (1739950) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @01:16AM (#32165794)

      The privacy nuts are rather like the abortion nuts. Although there are many views only one side pushes forward. Just as we never see gangs of protesters marching for abortion but only against abortion we see only the privacy freaks protesting the supposed evils of free information. Some people seem to only feel safe if they are living totally obscured from the view of all others.

      Uh, that's a poor comparison. Most anti-choice (I refuse to label them pro-life, as someone can be pro-life and pro-choice without contradicting themselves) protesters are fighting to outlaw abortion, while "privacy freaks" typically are more concerned with their own privacy (and bitching about the lack thereof). I don't have a Facebook account with any real information, and I try to educate people about privacy, but I'm hardly campaigning to outlaw status updates. I think people should have the right to tell the world when they are taking a shower and what they thought about the Shawshank Redemption. I just think that they should be clearly informed of what is being done with their data and any transfer of the data to a third party should be an opt-in process.

      STATUS UPDATES ARE MURDER

  • Ya know,google shouldn't be patting themselves on the back about anything they did with Buzz. With all that facebook,myspace has don't before them screwing up privacy and adding features with out notice. Buzz should have never been released,but they took advantage of there user Base for an instant social network that no one had any clue about.No,google privacy policy's and data collection is IMO anti Privacy. We should have no complaints that they serve us with advertising from the search term searched,anyt
  • ORLY? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:45AM (#32165672) Homepage

    'We are committed to being transparent with our users about the information that we collect when they use our products and services, why we collect it, and how we use it to improve their experience.'

    Sooooo, the little tracking bugs from Double Click and Google Analytics? You're being transparent about all that data, eh? You have a nice place where I can see everything you have recorded on your hard drives about my browsing history? How about a page telling me all the sites your tracking bugs are on, and the number of unique pages and users they track? A clear, concise description of the algorithms you use to personalize ads, including the row and column definitions for the matrix(ces)?

    Tell me again how serious you are about transparency. Really, I'm fascinated -- do go on.

    • Re:ORLY? (Score:5, Informative)

      by JackieBrown (987087) <dbroome@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @01:21AM (#32165818)

      Yeah. It's too bad they don't have easy to follow instructions [google.com] on how to disable that.

      The phrase "disable tracking from google" gave me the referenced link as first result.

      I tried a bing search and not until the 5th result did I even get an official msn link (and that link seems to have nothing to do with my query.) The other official microsoft link was for a pdf file. No other results on that page nor the next (it defaults to 10 results per page.)

      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        Translucent is better than opaque. Transparent is something different.

        Claiming they are being transparent when they are not putting all the information on the table is, simply, a lie. Whether they are the least bad actor, the best actor, or even if the net outcome to society is positive is not the question. They are not being transparent, but they are claiming they are for political purposes.

        I don't like it when politicians lie. I don't like it when lobbyists lie. I don't like it when corporations lie. When

  • by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte@NospaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:48AM (#32165692)

    Why do we have this discussion every single week?

    Here is the first distinction that we have to make:

    a) Services that publish private information
    b) Services that do not publish private information

    Facebook and other atrocities are clearly in the a) group. They publish your information for anyone to see and there is nothing you can do about it. On the other hand, you have no right to complain, since that is the bloody purpose of the service.

    Google, on the other hand, is in group b). They do collect user information, but they process that information in an automated way, gather stats, and let you store, organize and share that information. They DO NOT publish that information or make it available to any other third party. Nobody except for a perl script and a SQL server is looking at your data. And you have no right to complain, since that is the purpose of the service.

    So, you don't want your information published: Do not use services in a) group.
    You don't want your information automatically analyzed and processed, do not use services in b) group.

    It is truly that simple. I do not use any service in group a). I do use google, and many of its services. All the information is kept between google and me. You see, I want them to do what they do. I like the way they analyze my data and the way they allow me to manipulate it. You know what happens to the information I want no one to see? it is not published publicly. Do you know what happens to the info I don't want google's perl scripts to see? it doesn't get uploaded in the first place.

    It's like going to a horror movie and complaining that you got scared. It was a fucking horror movie! what are you complaining about?

    People upload all of their private info into some unknown "social network" and then complain about privacy. It's in the fucking name, what are you complaining about?

    Can we really get over this?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      True enough, but as another poster pointed out http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1647548&cid=32165644/ [slashdot.org] there are instances where companies can be compelled to reveal all their information about you.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dcmoebius (1527443)

      Here is the first distinction that we have to make:

      a) Services that publish private information
      b) Services that do not publish private information

      The problem is that there is little to stop companies from transitioning from group b) to group a).

      I'm reasonably confident that Google won't actively screw me over right now. But ten years down the road? Who knows?

      Frankly, the only reason I trust Google NOW is that they have an incentive to keep me happy. If at any point I get pissed off, I can pack up and move to Bing or some other competitor with a minimum of fuss.

      However with Facebook, they have a locked-in market. Sure, you can quit and move

      • Ok, screw Karma, here is what I really think:

        Anyone that uses social networks or publishes any kind of personal information on the web that they don't want to be public, or without understanding what will happened, IS A FUCKING RETARD. And deserves no privacy.

        And, here we go: Facebook and other social network users are ATTENTION WHORES. Nothing more than that. Narcissist bitches.

        Tweeter users are attention whores AND retards with the attention span of a 2 year old kid.

        Fuck you all! Remember when the interne

    • by Hozza (1073224)

      Congratulations, you've missed the point entirely. This letter was (in part) in response to Google's botched launch of Buzz which is exactly "some unknown social network". The privacy commissioners wanted to know exactly how a company with as much talent as Google could launch a product with such glaring privacy concerns and wait for public outcry before fixing them. It would appear that Google have completely failed to answer that question.

  • Dear Google. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The presence of ads everywhere on your applications does not 'improve my experience'.

    You are a public company whose only reason for existence to to make money for your CEOs and if you distribute dividends, your shareholders.

  • Google as a company makes money by giving away information. In order to get that information, we selectively let them collect information on us. Our privacy has value to us, so we want to keep it private. But not trading information is against Google's very nature. They make money by disseminating information.

    This is why Google can be so careless as they were with Buzz. You could see that lack of regard reflected in Jim Clark's (Google CIO) comments about Buzz. All that valuable private information won't ma

  • Yeah, this is so great!! Francisco Santos. fransantosjun@gmail.com
  • Google's methods are to fob off the information commissioners with reassurances that aren't backed by fact. For example in the UK, you can remove your house from StreetView - but only if you send Google, at your own expense, a copy of photographic identification, which they can reject for reasons unknown. The IC doesn't allow any other data holder to place arbitrary, irrelevant restrictions on remove requests like this.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I first got this lesson sometime in the late '90s after Google acquired DejaNews, and found that typing my name in the search bar would summon up all my forgotten posts on Usenet (which I had thought had a shelf life of weeks or months, given the scarcity of hard disk space at the time). That experience was enough to turn me into an AC ever since.

    Of course Google has since grown exponentially, acquiring technologies left and right, and now can show pictures of most every housefront in the civilized world,

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin

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