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Google Privacy Your Rights Online

Hiding From Google 228

penguinrecorder writes "Google offers Web users a simple trade-off: Let the search giant track a substantial portion of your comings and goings around the Web, and it will offer you a free, superior online experience. Now independent security researcher Moxie Marlinspike is making Web users a counter-offer: take Google's giveaways and keep your privacy too. On Tuesday, Marlinspike launched a service he calls GoogleSharing, a plug-in for Firefox designed to give users access to Google's online offerings while cloaking their identity from the company's data collection tools. By hosting a proxy server with a collection of Google 'identities,' the privacy software will allow users temporarily to route their traffic through another computer that masks their identity by mixing their online actions with those of other users. The system is totally transparent, with no special 'alternative' websites to visit. Your normal work flow should be exactly the same." GoogleSharing only works for those services not requiring a Google login; for the latter, no proxying is done.
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Hiding From Google

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  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @08:16PM (#30826732)
    In Google we trust. In Moxie Marlinspike who wants to be in a position to collect all our Google non-logged-in content... nope.
  • by Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @08:16PM (#30826736) Homepage

    "Instead of sending your private information to Google directly, use my awesome proxy server to send your private information to Google anonymously. I promise I will not snoop any more than Google does!"

  • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @08:19PM (#30826764) Journal

    My thoughts exactly. It's free, so he's gotta be paying for it somehow, right? Or is he a known philanthropist who has a long track record of protecting privacy? Nope, didn't think so.

  • Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cosm ( 1072588 ) < minus bsd> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @08:35PM (#30826896)
    Is it me, or has Google started to slide in the media towards away from its 'Don't Be Evil' policy? Personally, I think they operate well within moral bounds, but to a lot of major networks, blogs, and news aggregates, the opposite seems to be opines.

    In principle, most want their usage statistics retained for a short-while, if at all. Most prefer their statistics only confided with first channel of contact as well. Are people considering that these mass usage statistics may comprise some of the magic that makes their platform so successful and useful? Continual refinement due to constant sources of usage information, IMO, seems to be working great for them. The naysayers neigh, but until I see a genuine effort by other companies to be as philanthropic, open-source friendly, charitable, and hospitable, I will shelve my skepticism and contempt for their nosiness in hopes of a continually great service.

    How much would people complain if search became a pay-per-search model? If all those in favor of eliminating usage-statistics completely had their way, Ad-Words and dynamic advertising content would be out, and these search giants would be looking for another form of revenue. Something to think about...
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @08:35PM (#30826898)
    Google runs an ad network because it makes money. They still honor their "Don't be evil" promises, but they've got to do some user tracking because that makes ads more valuable. If you took advertising away from Google... how would they make money? Would anybody pay Google to not show ads to them?
  • by indi0144 ( 1264518 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @08:39PM (#30826922) Journal
    How is Google invasive? Does it make the keyboard grow a hand and grab your balls until you set up your homepage on You trust more a random stranger that a big corp that can get some sever financial risk for messing with your privacy? Did you receive candy from strangers when you were kid? I keep hearing about the privacy issues and all the crap, but AFAIK, I haven't seen the first blog post (the most paranoid source of information) about anything close to privacy invasion.

    If you don't want to get your porn usage pattern sent to your boss then use Yahoo or Bing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @08:43PM (#30826954)

    I, um, trust neither... is that an option?

  • Re:Why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lidocaineus ( 661282 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @08:54PM (#30827058)

    You're deluding yourself if you think "Don't Be Evil" is more than just a throwaway phrase. While it can be argued that Google started out altruistic, it's a corporation, and by nature all corporations are there for one thing - to make money. Don't Be Evil is just some vague guide they put out there that basically means "we'll try to not do things that would piss off the consumer but it's in no way a priority."

    That said, I use google all the time. I just understand how much to trust them (read: not very much). It's ridiculous how many people fawn over Google as if they're holier than thou because of one phrase, but hey, it's working. If they were serious, they'd put together a Bill of Rights and stick hardcore to it - THEN I'd be willing to see them in a (slightly) different light.

  • by Girtych ( 1345935 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @08:56PM (#30827076)
    I'd trust a proven risk far more than an unknown risk. At least with the former, we know its limits.
  • by bertoelcon ( 1557907 ) * on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @09:02PM (#30827108)

    I would pay for a Google subscription service with no ads and no user activity tracking.

    How would they know it was you they would not show ads to unless they tracked you?

  • by WiseWeasel ( 92224 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @09:14PM (#30827186)

    There's always the chance that this service doesn't take any significant centralized resources to keep running, as in the users are made to contribute the bandwidth and CPU resources needed to keep it running.

  • I Call Trojan (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oztiks ( 921504 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:00PM (#30827842)

    So I'm supposed to install this Proxy add on, then put my google account details, that has my google docs and google checkout account?

    Ummm .... no

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:15PM (#30827906)

    Actually, a big problem is that we *dont* know it's limits. We don't know what they're doing, and they won't tell us. Repeated requests for information about whether they're even running automated "lawful" intercept systems have been denied, and they won't provide statistics on how many subpoenas they respond to per day. We don't know how many times they've been hacked before, or how much data was lost in this last hack. There's a lot we don't know.

  • He stole my idea! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Demonoid-Penguin ( 1669014 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:02AM (#30828188) Homepage
    I offer the same service - and more. I'll route your google/msn/yahoo/windows live/banking/ebay through tor for you. You can inspect the code for my tor client and proxy (Open Source of course). Hell I'll even offer SSL and HTTPS - both ways. Opt out on the banking data too!
  • by Anachragnome ( 1008495 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:26AM (#30828698)

    "How is Google invasive?"

    Have you ever used the NoScript extension for Firefox? Have you ever paid attention to what NoScript is blocking?

    I'd say that 80-90% of the websites I end up at have at least or trying to run script. I'd call the unauthorized running of script on my computer invasive. Regardless of what they say to the contrary, I have not given them permission to run script on my computer, and have had to resort to actions to prevent it.

    Learned use of NoScript is probably THE best way (even better with ABP and a harsh cookie policy) of making sure that Google does not have you in their evil clutches.

    And, it is free. As in beer.

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:58AM (#30828814) Homepage

    The irony is that Google probably doesn't care all that much about a specific user, or users as an individual. They're looking for types of users and their associated buying habits.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:04AM (#30828844)

    To be fair, every website where Google analytics tries to run the unauthorized scripts has made a conscious decision to install that code.

    You do know what Google analytics is for, right? I'm not denying that Google isn't getting the data along with the user, but it does provide an excellent service to the people running the site.

    Don't get mad at Google for providing a service, get mad at the site you're visiting for using it. Personally, I could care less if Google can identify me. (posting AC because I've moderated)

    Isn't it reasonable to assume that 99% of the user info Google is collecting is just run through a bunch of reports and turned into pretty graphs?

    What real benefit would they get from treating each user individually vs analyzing everyone's collective habits?

  • by Anachragnome ( 1008495 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:32AM (#30828942)

    "What real benefit would they get from treating each user individually vs analyzing everyone's collective habits?"

    Because they CAN use the information in a non-statistical fashion?

    It is not so much the motives of Google that I question, but rather those that would have more sinister motivations and are in a position to force the hand of Google, or simply steal the data.

    Data from one source can be cross-referenced with data from another source to great effect. The sum of such data is greater then it's parts.

    The only true protection is simply not gathering the data at all. This is what I strive for when I protect my computer and myself (as well as anyone willing to listen and learn).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:34AM (#30828952)

    The irony is that Google probably doesn't care all that much about a specific user, or users as an individual. They're looking for types of users and their associated buying habits.

    What makes you think that Google's the only one who can use that data? The (US)FBI just admitted that they'd frequently had employees who violated the ECPA (which is a criminal act). That was with telephone companies, but what makes you think computer services are any different? And while the FBI says that it doesn't do that any more, they haven't apprehended any of the perpetrators yet, and probably never will, so why would you believe they don't do it any more?

    Nah, there isn't really anything all that interesting about me for them to find, except that I believe that anything that wastes the time of a secret policeman is probably a net social good.

  • by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:27PM (#30833360) Homepage Journal

        Because people will find an arbitrary reason to mod things particular ways. Someone obviously didn't like what I wrote.

        I know people complain about the "moderators", but they usually haven't been here long enough to know, we're all the moderators. You can't please everyone all the time, so I don't worry about getting modded down occasionally. It's just someone who's being pissy. Since they aren't here to smack on the back of the head and say "what were you thinking", I don't let it stress me. :)

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