Google’s (Lack of) Privacy

Before I read this article, I didn’t fully realize the extent to which Google stores users search data and puts cookies on their computers so that searches can be tracked to individual people (how do they store all that data?), or that it scans the content of g-mail to create advertisements. The author claims there is a tension between Google’s mission, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” and it’s motto, “don’t be evil.” Google might want to flesh out that motto a bit, perhaps by turning to how libraries have balanced these two conflicting priorities. Yet Google has another motto, “make money,” which is arguably a more direct source of the conflict.
What Google Should Roll Out Next: A Privacy Upgrade, New York Times

2 thoughts on “Google’s (Lack of) Privacy

  1. Oh, yeah – Google has been criticized for this before, and their privacy practices caused a lot of agonizing when they launched their library partnerships, since libraries were participating in practices that are against our core values. Since Google’s whole schtick is matching advertisements to searches, they naturally invade our privacy. That’s the whole idea.

    This is why, when library catalogs start tailoring results by storing personal information I get nervous. As a nation, we’ve already proven (since we lack laws that protect our privacy from corporations) that we’re willing to trade convenience for privacy. But I don’t think libraries should be willing to go along. Privacy is only important (to me, for libraries) because it’s a necessary condition for intellectual freedom. But that means it’s mighty important.

  2. Back when internet was a new toyI used to post comments to newsgroups some 15 years ago. . to my dismay, my comments are still available even though the newsgroups have long ago closed. To make matters worse, my real name was used. Although nothing incriminating is on there, I still feel very embarassed and violated. Who does Google serve by keeping every keystroke forever? There is nothing I can do to get this off the internet. I will never use my real name again.
    This, of course, is not my real name.

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