No subject


Sun Oct 15 13:23:27 PDT 2006


the company earned cred early on by going toe-to-toe with Microsoft over =
desktop software and other issues. But make no mistake. Faced with doing =
the right thing or doing what is in its best interests, Google has =
almost always chosen expediency. In 2002, it removed links to an =
anti-Scientology site after the Church of Scientology claimed copyright =
infringement. Scores of website operators have complained that Google =
pulls ads if it discovers words on a page that it apparently has =
flagged, although it will not say what those words are. In September, =
Google handed over the records of some users of its social-networking =
service, Orkut, to the Brazilian government, which was investigating =
alleged racist, homophobic, and pornographic content.=20

Google's stated mission may be to provide "unbiased, accurate, and free =
access to information," but that didn't stop it from censoring its =
Chinese search engine to gain access to a lucrative market (prompting =
Bill Gates to crack that perhaps the motto should be "Do Less Evil"). =
Now that the company is publicly traded, it has a legal responsibility =
to its shareholders and bottom line that overrides any higher calling.

So the question is not whether Google will always do the right thing-it =
hasn't, and it won't. It's whether Google, with its insatiable thirst =
for your personal data, has become the greatest threat to privacy ever =
known, a vast informational honey pot that attracts hackers, crackers, =
online thieves, and-perhaps most worrisome of all-a government intent on =
finding convenient ways to spy on its own citizenry.

It doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to worry about such a threat. "I =
always thought it was fertile ground for the government to snoop," ceo =
Schmidt told a search engine conference in San Jose, California, in =
August. While Google earned praise from civil libertarians earlier this =
year when it resisted a Justice Department subpoena for millions of =
search queries in connection with a child pornography case, don't expect =
it will stand up to the government every time: On its website, Google =
asserts that it "does comply with valid legal process, such as search =
warrants, court orders, or subpoenas seeking personal information."

What's at stake? Over the years, Google has collected a staggering =
amount of data, and the company cheerfully admits that in nine years of =
operation, it has never knowingly erased a single search query. It's the =
biggest data pack rat west of the nsa, and for good reason: 99 percent =
of its revenue comes from selling ads that are specifically targeted to =
a user's interests. "Google's entire value proposition is to figure out =
what people want," says Eric Goldman, a professor at Silicon Valley's =
Santa Clara School of Law and director of the High Tech Law Institute. =
"But to read our minds, they need to know a lot about us."=20

Every search engine gathers information about its users-primarily by =
sending us "cookies," or text files that track our online movements. =
Most cookies expire within a few months or years. Google's, though, =
don't expire until 2038. Until then, when you use the company's search =
engine or visit any of myriad affiliated sites, it will record what you =
search for and when, which links you click on, which ads you access. =
Google's cookies can't identify you by name, but they log your =
computer's IP address; by way of metaphor, Google doesn't have your =
driver's license number, but it knows the license plate number of the =
car you are driving. And search queries are windows into our souls, as =
658,000 aol users learned when their search profiles were mistakenly =
posted on the Internet: Would user 1997374 have searched for information =
on better erections or cunnilingus if he'd known that aol was recording =
every keystroke? Would user 22155378 have keyed in "marijuana detox" =
over and over knowing someone could play it all back for the world to =
see? If you've ever been seized by a morbid curiosity after a night of =
hard drinking, a search engine knows-and chances are it's Google, which =
owns roughly half of the entire search market and processes more than 3 =
billion queries a month.

And Google knows far more than that. If you are a Gmail user, Google =
stashes copies of every email you send and receive. If you use any of =
its other products-Google Maps, Froogle, Google Book Search, Google =
Earth, Google Scholar, Talk, Images, Video, and News-it will keep track =
of which directions you seek, which products you shop for, which phrases =
you research in a book, which satellite photos and news stories you =
view, and on and on. Served up =E0 la carte, this is probably no big =
deal. Many websites stow snippets of your data. The problem is that =
there's nothing to prevent Google from combining all of this information =
to create detailed dossiers on its customers, something the company =
admits is possible in principle. Soon Google may even be able to keep =
track of users in the real world: Its latest move is into free wifi, =
which will require it to know your whereabouts (i.e., which router you =
are closest to).=20

Google insists that it uses individual data only to provide targeted =
advertising. But history shows that information seldom remains limited =
to the purpose for which it was collected. Accordingly, some privacy =
advocates suggest that Google and other search companies should stop =
hoarding user queries altogether: Internet searches, argues Lillie Coney =
of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, are part of your protected =
personal space just like your physical home. In February, Rep. Edward =
Markey (D-Mass.) introduced legislation to this effect, but Republicans =
have kept it stalled in committee. Google, which only recently retained =
a lobbying firm in Washington, is among the tech companies fighting the =
measure.

When I first contacted Google for this story, a company publicist =
insisted I provide a list of detailed questions, in writing; when I said =
that I had a problem with a source dictating the terms for an interview, =
he claimed that everyone who covers Google-including the New York Times =
and the Wall Street Journal-submits advance questions. (A Times =
spokeswoman told me the paper sees no ethical problems with such a =
procedure, though individual reporters' decisions may vary; an editor in =
charge of editorial standards at the Journal said the same thing.) The =
Google flack assured me that this was so he could find the best person =
for me to talk to-more information for Google, so that Google could =
better serve me.

Eventually he agreed to put me in touch, sans scripted questions, with =
Nicole Wong, Google's associate corporate counsel. I asked her if the =
company had ever been subpoenaed for user records, and whether it had =
complied. She said yes, but wouldn't comment on how many times. Google's =
website says that as a matter of policy the company does "not publicly =
discuss the nature, number or specifics of law enforcement requests."

So can you trust Google only as far as you can trust the Bush =
administration? "I don't know," Wong replied. "I've never been asked =
that question before."

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2006/11/google.html=20

------=_NextPart_000_011F_01C6F13E.866CC720
Content-Type: text/html;
	charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<HTML><HEAD>
<META http-equiv=3DContent-Type content=3D"text/html; =
charset=3Diso-8859-1">
<META content=3D"MSHTML 6.00.2900.2963" name=3DGENERATOR>
<STYLE></STYLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY bgColor=3D#ffffff>
<DIV><FONT face=3DVerdana>
<DIV>
<P class=3Dbyline1 style=3D"MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><STRONG><FONT =
face=3DVerdana><SPAN=20
lang=3DEN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN">Is Google=20
Evil?</SPAN><SPAN class=3Dsection1><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-WEIGHT: normal; FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: =
EN"><?xml:namespace=20
prefix =3D o ns =3D "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office"=20
/><o:p></o:p></SPAN></SPAN></FONT></STRONG></P>
<P class=3Dbyline1 style=3D"MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN =
class=3Dsection1><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-WEIGHT: normal; FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: =
EN"><o:p><FONT=20
face=3DVerdana color=3D#990000>&nbsp;</FONT></o:p></SPAN></SPAN></P>
<P class=3Dbyline1 style=3D"MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><FONT =
face=3DVerdana><SPAN=20
class=3Dsection1><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-WEIGHT: normal; FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: =
EN"><FONT=20
color=3D#990000>News:</FONT></SPAN></SPAN><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><STRONG>&nbsp;Internet =
privacy?=20
Google already knows more about you than the National Security Agency =
ever will.=20
And don=92t assume for a minute it can keep a secret. YouTube fans--and =
everybody=20
else--beware.<SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-FAMILY: =
Verdana"><o:p></o:p></SPAN></STRONG></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=3Dbyline1=20
style=3D"MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN><STRONG></STRONG></SPAN>&nbsp;</P>
<P class=3Dbyline1 style=3D"MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN><STRONG>By Adam =
L.=20
Penenberg<FONT face=3DVerdana> <BR>Illustration: John Hersey=20
<o:p></o:p></FONT></STRONG></SPAN></P>
<P class=3Ddate1 style=3D"MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><FONT =
face=3DVerdana>October 10,=20
2006 <o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal style=3D"MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><o:p><FONT=20
face=3DVerdana>&nbsp;</FONT></o:p></P>
<P class=3DNormalWeb13 style=3D"MARGIN: auto 0cm"><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><FONT =
face=3DVerdana>Google Larry=20
Page and Sergey Brin, the two former Stanford geeks who founded the =
company that=20
has become synonymous with Internet searching, and you=92ll find more =
than a=20
million entries each. But amid the inevitable dump of press clippings, =
corporate=20
bios, and conference appearances, there=92s very little about Page=92s =
and Brin=92s=20
personal lives; it=92s as if the pair had known all along that Google =
would change=20
the way we acquire information, and had carefully insulated their =
lives=97putting=20
their homes under other people=92s names, choosing unlisted numbers, =
abstaining=20
from posting anything personal on web pages. =
<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DNormalWeb13 style=3D"MARGIN: auto 0cm"><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><FONT =
face=3DVerdana>That obsession=20
with privacy may explain Google=92s puzzling reaction last year, when =
Elinor=20
Mills, a reporter with the tech news service cnet, ran a search on =
Google ceo=20
Eric Schmidt and published the results: Schmidt lived with his wife in =
Atherton,=20
California, was worth about $1.5 billion, had dumped about $140 million =
in=20
Google shares that year, was an amateur pilot, and had been to the =
Burning Man=20
festival. Google threw a fit, claimed that the information was a =
security=20
threat, and announced it was blacklisting cnet=92s reporters for a year. =
(The=20
company eventually backed down.) It was a peculiar response, especially =
given=20
that the information Mills published was far less intimate than the =
details=20
easily found online on every one of us. But then, this is something of a =
pattern=20
with Google: When it comes to information, it knows what=92s best.=20
<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DNormalWeb13 style=3D"MARGIN: auto 0cm"><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><FONT =
face=3DVerdana>From the=20
start, Google=92s informal motto has been =93Don=92t Be Evil,=94 and the =
company earned=20
cred early on by going toe-to-toe with Microsoft over desktop software =
and other=20
issues. But make no mistake. Faced with doing the right thing or doing =
what is=20
in its best interests, Google has almost always chosen expediency. In =
2002, it=20
removed links to an anti-Scientology site after the Church of =
Scientology=20
claimed copyright infringement. Scores of website operators have =
complained that=20
Google pulls ads if it discovers words on a page that it apparently has =
flagged,=20
although it will not say what those words are. In September, Google =
handed over=20
the records of some users of its social-networking service, Orkut, to =
the=20
Brazilian government, which was investigating alleged racist, =
homophobic, and=20
pornographic content. <o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DNormalWeb13 style=3D"MARGIN: auto 0cm"><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><FONT =
face=3DVerdana>Google=92s=20
stated mission may be to provide =93unbiased, accurate, and free access =
to=20
information,=94 but that didn=92t stop it from censoring its Chinese =
search engine=20
to gain access to a lucrative market (prompting Bill Gates to crack that =
perhaps=20
the motto should be =93Do Less Evil=94). Now that the company is =
publicly traded, it=20
has a legal responsibility to its shareholders and bottom line that =
overrides=20
any higher calling.<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DNormalWeb13 style=3D"MARGIN: auto 0cm"><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><FONT face=3DVerdana>So =
the=20
question is not whether Google will always do the right thing=97it =
hasn=92t, and it=20
won=92t. It=92s whether Google, with its insatiable thirst for your =
personal data,=20
has become the greatest threat to privacy ever known, a vast =
informational honey=20
pot that attracts hackers, crackers, online thieves, and=97perhaps most =
worrisome=20
of all=97a government intent on finding convenient ways to spy on its =
own=20
citizenry.<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DNormalWeb13 style=3D"MARGIN: auto 0cm"><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><FONT face=3DVerdana>It =
doesn=92t=20
take a conspiracy theorist to worry about such a threat. =93I always =
thought it=20
was fertile ground for the government to snoop,=94 ceo Schmidt told a =
search=20
engine conference in San Jose, California, in August. While Google =
earned praise=20
from civil libertarians earlier this year when it resisted a Justice =
Department=20
subpoena for millions of search queries in connection with a child =
pornography=20
case, don=92t expect it will stand up to the government every time: On =
its=20
website, Google asserts that it =93does comply with valid legal process, =
such as=20
search warrants, court orders, or subpoenas seeking personal=20
information.=94<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DNormalWeb13 style=3D"MARGIN: auto 0cm"><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><FONT =
face=3DVerdana>What=92s at=20
stake? Over the years, Google has collected a staggering amount of data, =
and the=20
company cheerfully admits that in nine years of operation, it has never=20
knowingly erased a single search query. It=92s the biggest data pack rat =
west of=20
the nsa, and for good reason: 99 percent of its revenue comes from =
selling ads=20
that are specifically targeted to a user=92s interests. =93Google=92s =
entire value=20
proposition is to figure out what people want,=94 says Eric Goldman, a =
professor=20
at Silicon Valley=92s Santa Clara School of Law and director of the High =
Tech Law=20
Institute. =93But to read our minds, they need to know a lot about =
us.=94=20
<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DNormalWeb13 style=3D"MARGIN: auto 0cm"><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><FONT =
face=3DVerdana>Every search=20
engine gathers information about its users=97primarily by sending us =
=93cookies,=94 or=20
text files that track our online movements. Most cookies expire within a =
few=20
months or years. Google=92s, though, don=92t expire until 2038. Until =
then, when you=20
use the company=92s search engine or visit any of myriad affiliated =
sites, it will=20
record what you search for and when, which links you click on, which ads =
you=20
access. Google=92s cookies can=92t identify you by name, but they log =
your=20
computer=92s IP address; by way of metaphor, Google doesn=92t have your =
driver=92s=20
license number, but it knows the license plate number of the car you are =

driving. And search queries are windows into our souls, as 658,000 aol =
users=20
learned when their search profiles were mistakenly posted on the =
Internet: Would=20
user 1997374 have searched for information on better erections or =
cunnilingus if=20
he=92d known that aol was recording every keystroke? Would user 22155378 =
have=20
keyed in =93marijuana detox=94 over and over knowing someone could play =
it all back=20
for the world to see? If you=92ve ever been seized by a morbid curiosity =
after a=20
night of hard drinking, a search engine knows=97and chances are it=92s =
Google, which=20
owns roughly half of the entire search market and processes more than 3 =
billion=20
queries a month.<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DNormalWeb13 style=3D"MARGIN: auto 0cm"><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><FONT =
face=3DVerdana>And Google=20
knows far more than that. If you are a Gmail user, Google stashes copies =
of=20
every email you send and receive. If you use any of its other =
products=97Google=20
Maps, Froogle, Google Book Search, Google Earth, Google Scholar, Talk, =
Images,=20
Video, and News=97it will keep track of which directions you seek, which =
products=20
you shop for, which phrases you research in a book, which satellite =
photos and=20
news stories you view, and on and on. Served up =E0 la carte, this is =
probably no=20
big deal. Many websites stow snippets of your data. The problem is that =
there=92s=20
nothing to prevent Google from combining all of this information to =
create=20
detailed dossiers on its customers, something the company admits is =
possible in=20
principle. Soon Google may even be able to keep track of users in the =
real=20
world: Its latest move is into free wifi, which will require it to know =
your=20
whereabouts (i.e., which router you are closest to).=20
<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DNormalWeb13 style=3D"MARGIN: auto 0cm"><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><FONT =
face=3DVerdana>Google insists=20
that it uses individual data only to provide targeted advertising. But =
history=20
shows that information seldom remains limited to the purpose for which =
it was=20
collected. Accordingly, some privacy advocates suggest that Google and =
other=20
search companies should stop hoarding user queries altogether: Internet=20
searches, argues Lillie Coney of the Electronic Privacy Information =
Center, are=20
part of your protected personal space just like your physical home. In =
February,=20
Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) introduced legislation to this effect, but=20
Republicans have kept it stalled in committee. Google, which only =
recently=20
retained a lobbying firm in Washington, is among the tech companies =
fighting the=20
measure.<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DNormalWeb13 style=3D"MARGIN: auto 0cm"><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><FONT =
face=3DVerdana>When I first=20
contacted Google for this story, a company publicist insisted I provide =
a list=20
of detailed questions, in writing; when I said that I had a problem with =
a=20
source dictating the terms for an interview, he claimed that everyone =
who covers=20
Google=97including the <I>New York Times</I> and the <I>Wall Street=20
Journal</I>=97submits advance questions. (A <I>Times</I> spokeswoman =
told me the=20
paper sees no ethical problems with such a procedure, though individual=20
reporters=92 decisions may vary; an editor in charge of editorial =
standards at the=20
Journal said the same thing.) The Google flack assured me that this was =
so he=20
could find the best person for me to talk to=97more information for =
Google, so=20
that Google could better serve me.<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DNormalWeb13 style=3D"MARGIN: auto 0cm"><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><FONT =
face=3DVerdana>Eventually he=20
agreed to put me in touch, sans scripted questions, with Nicole Wong, =
Google=92s=20
associate corporate counsel. I asked her if the company had ever been =
subpoenaed=20
for user records, and whether it had complied. She said yes, but =
wouldn=92t=20
comment on how many times. Google=92s website says that as a matter of =
policy the=20
company does =93not publicly discuss the nature, number or specifics of =
law=20
enforcement requests.=94<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DNormalWeb13 style=3D"MARGIN: auto 0cm"><SPAN lang=3DEN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN"><FONT face=3DVerdana>So =
can you=20
trust Google only as far as you can trust the Bush administration? =93I =
don=92t=20
know,=94 Wong replied. =93I=92ve never been asked that question=20
before.=94<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal style=3D"MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN =
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 8pt"><A=20
href=3D"http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2006/11/google.html"><FON=
T=20
face=3DVerdana>http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2006/11/google.htm=
l</FONT></A><FONT=20
face=3DVerdana> =
<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P></DIV></FONT></DIV></BODY></HTML>

------=_NextPart_000_011F_01C6F13E.866CC720--



More information about the imc-alberta mailing list