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Googles Non Privacy Policy

The following text is taken from scroogle.com a site designed to combat the overly invasive practices that Google is now engaging in on the web. With more and more applications and user data being stored in the “cloud” rather than as a local applications on the users computer the Internet is becoming more like the a big version of the old networks where there was one huge central hub that stored all the files and the users only had access to dumb terminals with which they could run apps and access the data but nothing was ever stored locally.

Obviously this method of working has upsides and downsides. The major downsides are privacy as you are letting 3rd parties store your data on their own servers and we all know the sort of problems huge central databases entail with data loss and unauthorised access. If Google want to analyse your data for more targeting advertising they don’t have to look very far and if the Government requests some info on you then they are bound by law to provide it.

The following article has been taken from Scroogle.com which is a wonderful proxy search system that allows you to carry out a Google search but with none of the downsides of having your search request logged, tracking cookies, adverts and the request being insecure. Read this article of mine to find out more about Scroogle and their cool search engine. And if you are concerned about Internet privacy and want to surf anonymously or without all the risks of tracking cookies and other forms of logging then read my article about keeping your privacy and avoiding the Internet Censors.

Article taken From http://ssl.scroogle.org


Presumably you have a Gmail account,
and do not object to Google’s policies

But many of us will not send mail to gmail.com …


Problem 1: Gmail is nearly immortal
Google offers more storage for your email than other Internet service providers that we know about. The powerful searching encourages account holders to never delete anything. It’s easier to just leave it in the inbox and let the powerful searching keep track of it. Google admits that deleted messages will remain on their system, and may be accessible internally at Google, for an indefinite period of time.A new California law, the Online Privacy Protection Act, went into effect on July 1, 2004. Google changed their main privacy policy that same day because the previous version sidestepped important issues and might have been illegal. For the first time in Google’s history, the language in their new policy made it clear that they will be pooling all the information they collect on you from all of their various services. Moreover, they may keep this information indefinitely, and give this information to whomever they wish. All that’s required is for Google to “have a good faith belief that access, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to protect the rights, property or safety of Google, its users or the public.” Google, you may recall, already believes that as a corporation they are utterly incapable of bad faith. Their corporate motto is “Don’t be evil,” and they even made sure that the Securities and Exchange Commission got this message in Google’s IPO filing.

Google’s policies are essentially no different than the policies of Microsoft, Yahoo, Alexa and Amazon. However, these others have been spelling out their nasty policies in detail for years now. By way of contrast, we’ve had email from indignant Google fans who defended Google by using the old privacy language — but while doing so they arrived at exactly the wrong interpretation of Google’s actual position! Now those emails will stop, because Google’s position is clear at last. It’s amazing how a vague privacy policy, a minimalist browser interface, and an unconventional corporate culture have convinced so many that Google is different on issues that matter.

After 180 days in the U.S., email messages lose their status as a protected communication under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and become just another database record. This means that a subpoena instead of a warrant is all that’s needed to force Google to produce a copy. Other countries may even lack this basic protection, and Google’s databases are distributed all over the world. Since the Patriot Act was passed, it’s unclear whether this ECPA protection is worth much anymore in the U.S., or whether it even applies to email that originates from non-citizens in other countries.

Google’s relationships with government officials in all of the dozens of countries where they operate are a mystery, because Google never makes any statements about this. But here’s a clue: Google uses the term “governmental request” three times on their terms-of-use page and once on their privacy page. Google’s language means that all Gmail account holders have consented to allow Google to show any and all email in their Gmail accounts to any official from any government whatsoever, even when the request is informal or extralegal, at Google’s sole discretion. Why should we send email to Gmail accounts under such draconian conditions?
Problem 2: Google’s policies do not apply
The phrasing and qualifiers in the Gmail privacy policy are creepy enough, but nothing in any of Google’s policies or public statements applies to those of us who don’t have Gmail accounts. Google has not even formally stated in their privacy policy that they will not keep a list of keywords scanned from incoming email, and associate these with the incoming email address in their database. They’ve said that their advertisers won’t get personally identifiable information from email, but that doesn’t mean that Google won’t keep this information for possible future use. Google has never been known to delete any of the data they’ve collected, since day one. For example, their cookie with the unique ID in it, which expires in 2038, has been tracking all of the search terms you’ve ever used while searching their main index.

Keyhole, the satellite imaging company that Google acquired in October 2004, was funded by the CIA.

“We are moving to a Google that knows more about you.” —Google CEO Eric Schmidt, February 9, 2005

You can hotlink to me !You can use Scroogle to get Google without the tracking!

no ads     · 28 languages     · also scrapes Yahoo

Problem 3: A massive potential for abuse
If Google builds a database of keywords associated with email addresses, the potential for abuse is staggering. Google could grow a database that spits out the email addresses of those who used those keywords. How about words such as “box cutters” in the same email as “airline schedules”? Can you think of anyone who might be interested in obtaining a list of email addresses for that particular combination? Or how about “mp3” with “download”? Since the RIAA has sent subpoenas to Internet service providers and universities in an effort to identify copyright abusers, why should we expect Gmail to be off-limits?Intelligence agencies would love to play with this information. Diagrams that show social networks of people who are inclined toward certain thoughts could be generated. This is one form of “data mining,” which is very lucrative now for high-tech firms, such as Google, that contract with federal agencies. Email addresses tied to keywords would be perfect for this. The fact that Google offers so much storage turns Gmail into something that is uniquely dangerous and creepy.

Problem 4: Inappropriate ad matching
We don’t use Gmail, but it is safe to assume that the ad matching is no better in Gmail, than it is in news articles that use contextual ad feeds from Google. Here’s a screen shot that shows an inappropriate placement of Google ads in a news article. We also read about a lawyer who is experimenting with Gmail. He sent himself a message, and discovered that the law practice footer he uses at the bottom of all of his email triggered an ad for a competing law firm.Another example is seen in the Google ads at the bottom of this story about Brandon Mayfield. There are two ads. One mentions sexual assault charges (sex has nothing to do with the story), and the other is about anti-terrorism. The entire point of this article, as well as a New York Times piece on May 8, 2004, is that a lawyer has had his career ruined due to overreaction by the FBI, based on disputed evidence. He was arrested as a material witness and his home and office were searched. The NYT(page A12) says that “Mr. Mayfield was arrested before investigators had fully examined his phone records, before they knew if he had ever met with any of the bombing suspects, before they knew if he had ever traveled to Spain or elsewhere overseas. His relatives said he had not been out of the United States for 10 years.” The only evidence is a single fingerprint on a plastic bag, and some FBI officials have raised questions about whether this print is a match. While Mr. Mayfield will get his day in court, it appears that Google’s ads have already convicted him, and for good measure added some bogus sexual assault charges as well. Would Mr. Mayfield be well-advised to send email to Gmail account holders to plead his case?

The Wichita Eagle is pleased to present Google’s recommendation for an alarm company that can “protect your home and family.” One tiny problem is that the trigger for this ad is an article about an alarm installer who worked for this company for 14 years, while moonlighting as a serial killer.

Our last example shows three ads fed by Google at the bottom of a Washington Post column titled “Gmail leads way in making ads relevant.” The columnist argues that Google’s relevant ads improve the web, and therefore she finds nothing objectionable about Gmail. These Google-approved ads offer PageRank for sale, something which only a year ago, Google would have considered high treason. Yes, these ads are “relevant” — the column is about Google, and the ads are about PageRank. But here’s the pointA relevant ad that shows poor judgment is much worse than an irrelevant ad that shows poor judgment. The ads at the bottom of her column disprove her pro-Google arguments. She has no control over this, and is probably not even aware that it happened.

Most writers, even if they are only writing an email message instead of a column in a major newspaper, have more respect for their words than Google does. Don’t expect these writers to answer their Gmail.

Esther Dyson, queen of the digerati, gets it wrong
“We’re not going to have any choice but to send mail to people at Gmail just to function in the e-mail world,” says Daniel Brandt, founder of the Google-Watch.org Web site. “And what guarantees do we have that all this won’t end up on some bureaucrat’s desk at some intelligence agency someday?” But those who support Gmail say such privacy concerns are not Google issues so much as constitutional ones, best addressed to Congress and law-enforcement agencies. “They’ve got a beef with the wrong person. The problem there is the FBI, not Google,” says Dyson. “And in the scheme of things, I’d rather have Google than my employer have access to my personal mail.”   — Baltimore Sun, 20 May 2004

The point is this: Some two-thirds of all Google searches come in from outside the U.S., and Gmail will also have a global reach. We’re not dealing with only the FBI (and yes, the same privacy advocates who oppose Gmail are dealing with the FBI), but potentially with hundreds of agencies in dozens of countries. Google has no data retention policies, and never comments on their relationships with governments. The problem must be addressed at the source, which is Google. Elitist digerati do a disservice to the entire world when they assume such narrow points of view.

Privacy: Not enough, and too much!
While there’s no privacy for non-Gmail users who receive mail from a Gmail account and might want to reply, there is too much privacy for those who use Gmail to send spammy, abusive, or threatening messages. Unlike Hotmail, Yahoo mail, and most other web mail services, browser-based Gmail does not show the originating IP address in the header. This means that system administrators who are trying to stop abuse cannot identify a Gmail abuser without asking Google for assistance. And normal users, assuming they can read headers, cannot check the identity of someone sending from Gmail. (With an IP address, you can at least do a quick check on the country or city of origin by looking it up at dnsstuff.com or some similiar service.) Since Google always seems to be too busy making billions to bother with complaints, many decide it’s easier to just say “no” to all Gmail.


For more information

Your cookie tastes better with your email address

Thirty-one organizations ask Google to suspend Gmail

Privacy? Who cares about privacy?

Gmail and the privacy issue: a FAQ with more links

Mark Rasch: “Google’s Gmail: spook heaven?”

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  1. Where is the outrage people? Does freedom matter that little to you all? « Dark Politricks Retweeted linked to this post on January 9, 2010

    […] are already logged and tracked wherever we go online by search engines, advertisers, the government through anti-terrorism laws as well as Echelon and now because of EU […]



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