Google knows too much about us

Google is a company that uses the immense amount of information it gets from its search engine in order to help place advertising and so make money. This is not surprising and as a way to provide a free service seems reasonable. However Google has been embroiled in privacy battles on a whole range of issues. Eric Schmidt Google's CEO has said it is googles policy "to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it." But many believe it already crossed the line numerous times. The internet company now admits it has been collecting data from wireless networks while creating google streetview. Does google know too much about us?.....

Google knows too much about us
Yes because...

Google's Streetview cars captured information from WIFI networks

Google's Streetview cars drove round our street and plucked information from people's unsecured WIFI networks not only with out their consent, but also without people even knowing. One might have thought that the Streetview cars were simply taking pictures of streets and buildings, but a programme was also installed to collect information on WIFI networks. The programme also captured what was being sent through thoese WIFI networks and the information taken includes emails, email addresses, passwords, urls and that's just what people know about so far. It could be that other sensitive information such as bank details or data from Government agencies might have been harvested, but we simply don't know and we are reliant upon Google, the very organisation that took the data to tell us what information about us they have. People using WIFI internet may have not even been using a Google product when their data was taken, but yet Google knows what they were doing.
It is not clear that this activity by Google was as accidental the company suggests. Google's systems separated out the unencrypted data and then kept that. [[http://www.privacyinternational.org/article.shtml?cmd[347]=x-347-566346]]
This is the equivalent to tapping into telephone lines. Google knows things about people that people never intended them to and it is not the same as using a specific Google product, like the search engine where one knows one is interacting with Google.

Google therefore knows more about us that we know about how much they know. Many questions remain unanswered about what Google collected.[[http://www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/home/2010/10/questions-for-googles-eric-schimidt.html]]

Investigations have taken place across the world and after Canada found out that medical information, names passwords and whole emails had been taken, not just fragments has had previously suggested, the UK ICO is now reopening its investigation.
[[http://content.usatoday.com/communities/technologylive/post/2010/10/federal-trade-commission-ends-google-privacy-inquiry/1]]

No because...

Google stopped collecting the WIFI data as soon as it realised what was happening. Google wasn't intentionally collecting the data, but it was an accident due to the way the programme was written. Moreover has admitted its mistake and is trying to work with the authorities to make amends. Not only that Google has said not used any of the data and nor has it ever intended to use any of the data so people have nothing to worry about: the information will be deleted and not used by Google so the organisation knows nothing more about us than it did before. Google has no plans to start using the cars again to collect WIFI data.

Alma Whitten, the new director of privacy at Google

“As soon as we realised what had happened, we stopped collecting all wi-fi data from our Street View cars and immediately informed the authorities. This data has never been used in any Google product and was never intended to be used by Google in any way.
“We want to delete the data as soon as possible and will continue to work with the authorities to determine the best way forward, as well as to answer their further questions and concerns.”

The US regulators have ruled that Google would not be find for the capture of the WIFI information and is statisfied that Google has put sufficient safeguards in place.

[[http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20020893-281.html?tag=mncol;4n]]

Google knows too much about us
Yes because...

Google comprises more products than we realise and so can build up a big picture of us from all the data

Google is no longer just the search engine, but it's also Googlemail and Google Docs. Of course some services, such as YouTube, Blogger, Picasa, don't even have the name Google so people may not realise that the services are run by Google and may be inadvertently be giving over more information to Google than they realise.
All of these Google products keep data on users, for example YouTube gives a list of personalised recommendations once the user has watched a few videos, in order to make any such suggestions Google is clearly knows what you've been watching.
If all of the information that Google takes about you from every one of its services you use and puts that all together the company can know all about your emails, your documents, which videos you have been watching... all in all Google knows too much about you if it puts all the data together.
Furthermore, the data isn't just from registered users signed in to services; the widespread use of tracking 'cookies' to monitor use means that Google can keep virtual tabs on any internet user who routinely uses the same computer in the same location without wiping these small tracking files.

Counterargument: I.P addresses are tractable so Google can tell it's you; normally :(

No because...

Targeted services are very useful and people appreciate them. There is no evidence that Google does put all the information together. Users don't have to sign in to YouTube so Google can't tell that it is you.

Google knows too much about us
Yes because...

Google doesn't delete emails straight away

Even if you do delete an email from your Gmail account that is not the end of the matter. Google states as part of its policies that it keeps residual copies of deleted emails and it may take up to 60 days to delete the emails. Some emails may remain in its back up systems. In this day and age it is crazy that an email should take 60 days to delete. It is also totally improper for Google to retain backup copies of your emails. There is no clear reason for why it should do this.

With regard to 'security' issues, the comparison is absurd. Postal services don't automatically read all correspondence, and there is no legal obligation on citizens not to burn their letters in case they are evidence of a terrorist plot - why should email correspondence be any different, just because it is technologically possible?

No because...

Security issues. The privacy of Google users is breached when emails are deleted; to make sure they/we are not deleting something related to terrorism. Google is required (under the Patriot act) to review deleted emails to make sure they are not coded plots that are only deleted so that no one other than the recipient can read them.

Counterargument:
Actually U.S postal services are required to open and close each and every package before delivery; especially since the anthrax threat which preceded the patriot act. For public security/safety; it is.

Also there's airport security; luggage is opened, checked and closed each and every time you travel; even if it is just a two hour flight.

And no, email correspondence is no different; you are right.

Google knows too much about us
Yes because...

Google 'reads' all Gmail emails

Not only does Google automatically scans users personal emails in order to make suggestions of websites and to allow advertising to be targeted at Gmail users based on the subject of your conversations which ought to be private.

Worse yet, Google also scans the emails of non-subscribers who send emails to people with Gmail accounts. These people have not signed up to Gmail. There is no confirmation from Google about how long the information is kept for or how it is used. [[http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/GmailLetter.htm]]

No because...

Again the "national-security-Bush-administration-P.A" card.
The Patriot Act still stands and Google is an American company and as such is required to thwart all possible [[http://debatewise.org/debates/2425-google-knows-too-much-about-u]] security threats in the making( Yes,possible does not equate to plausible). All U.S phone conversations are tapped and recorded and heard under this act. Letters,luggage, anything non-living traveling without people is inspected.

As Google is an American cooperation; it has the duty to inspect information communicated during the use of its services.

All charges levied against Google in the latest copyright/privacy related trial against them have been cleared. By European law people/companies are responsible for protecting their own copyright/privacy and are obligated to report any impingement/infringement on these to Google; and then to the police if Google does not take any video of the sort down. "Google was cleared of any wrongdoing in a copyright infringement case brought against YouTube by Telecinco, a Spanish broadcaster. Google owns the popular video sharing website, which was accused of harboring copyrighted content. Telecinco filed the lawsuit claiming that YouTube should be responsible for the content that is uploaded to the site, but that claim was rejected by a federal court in Madrid, Spain.

Rather than accepting Telecinco's placement of the monitoring burden on YouTube, the federal court said that it was the copyright owners who had the responsibility to make sure that their content was not being distributed in an unwanted manner. The court noted that since YouTube had policies already in place regarding copyrighted content, the site has taken all the necessary steps to avoid such problems. In the end, it was ruled that if a copyright holder had a legitimate gripe, they would have to report it to YouTube if they hoped to have their demands met. ''
[[http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-News/Google-Not-Guilty-in-YouTube-Case/]] [[http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/serious-threat-to-web-in-italy.html]]

Google knows too much about us
Yes because...

Knowingly or unknowingly we stepped in to the circle of google and its hard to come back.

Google needs to know about us to give us what we want, if we want it to be able to give us adverts that are of interest to us, or even the best search results then it needs to know something about users preferences. In order to do this is needs to build up knowledge about us.

That knowledge isn't just user-submitted - tracking cookies kept on our computers to monitor the sites we visit mean that we unwittingly submit data to Google and other companies about our browsing history.

No because...

The point on the left, lands on the right as it is an admittance of the notion that Google does not know more than it needs to know and that we voluntarily provide Google with needed data.

Google knows too much about us
No because...

Dashboard means that users can have a say on what information is stored

Dashboard was developed so that Google Account users can have a say on what information is stored about them. Google focused on Google Account information because it is the data that is personal to users.
[[http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/answer.py?answer=162744]]

It is also possible to learn about other types of data that Google records which isn't covered on Dashboard. [[http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/answer.py?answer=162743]] This information is deliberately kept separately from the Google Account data in order to protect privacy.

Google Blog

Over the past 11 years, Google has focused on building innovative products for our users. Today, with hundreds of millions of people using those products around the world, we are very aware of the trust that you have placed in us, and our responsibility to protect your privacy and data.

[[http://googleblog.blogspot.com/]]

This comes in addition to the Privacy Center educates users on privacy issues and makes it clear that the Google wants to
1. Use information to provide our users with valuable products and services.
2. Develop products that reflect strong privacy standards and practices.
3. Make the collection of personal information transparent.
4. Give users meaningful choices to protect their privacy.
5. Be a responsible steward of the information we hold. [[http://www.google.com/privacy.html]]

The Data Liberation Front[[http://www.dataliberation.org/]] also helps Google users to get information out:

Google Data Liberation Front

Users should be able to control the data they store in any of Google's products. Our team's goal is to make it easier to move data in and out.

All the steps Google has taken and continues to take mean that users can easily remove data about themselves. If they do not remove the data then they must be happy to share it with Google meaning Google only knows as much as you want it to.

Yes because...

The fact that Google felt the need to create Dashboard in 2009 clearly shows that there was a problem with privacy and the Company knowing too much about users. [[http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-10390941-265.html?tag=contentMain;contentBody;2n]]

The product was created in repsonse to growing unease by users and governments alike. There is actually no real need for certain information to be stored at all, for example which YouTube videos people watch.

Nearly two -thirds of all internet searches are conducted through Google and that information does not need to be kept.

With Dashboard and the Data Liberation Front, perhaps Google doth protest too much. It could stop collecting the data in the first place making the system opt-in not opt-out.

It is interesting to note that the new opt-in Google Health product where users can organise their medical history and data and access it from any computer seems to have failed to proven popular with the public so far. [[http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-20016562-265.html?tag=contentMain;contentBody;1n]] Could it be that when users are given the choice about sharing data with Google they simply don't trust Google's approach to personal data and they would rather not hand information over, given the proper option.

Google knows too much about us
No because...

Google is not alone. Sharing data is part of modern life.

Google is alone in having data on its users. Many internet services store data on users and sharing is just a part of modern life. If we weren't ok with it then we would not use the internet or at least we would go to much greater lengths to ensure that we are not sharing data. Facebook collects plenty of data on people and still it has 500 million active users [[http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics]] and 50% of those users log on every day.

Zuckerberg

I’m trying to make the world a more open place.

Yes because...

Two wrongs don't make a right. People are increasingly concerned about many companies, including Facebook.

In the US in particular the debate is heating up. Ari Schwartz, a new senior internet policy advisor at the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) said at the Predictive Analytics World conference:

Ari Schwartz, NIST

We're starting to see a lot of these stories pile up, a lot more people are talking about these issues," Schwartz said. "Whether you believe privacy is a major concern ... it's important to realize it's not going away.

Google knows too much about us
No because...

What have you got to hide

If you've got something to hide, then maybe you shouldn't be doing it. Users should not be doing things via Google products which they would not wish to share. If users feel that Google knows too much about them, then they must have something to hide.

Those worried about Google Streetview can opt out and if you're that fussed you can do as CEO of Google Eric Schmidt says and just move.

[[http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2010/10/25/ps.google.schmidt.ceo.cnn]]

Government's haven't legislated against what Google is doing so how bad can it be?

Yes because...

Having to move to escape Google's snooping seems a little extreme, entirely impractical and given the that company is worldwide perhaps easier said that done...

What gives Google the right to have us running from our own homes to escape?

Governments are becoming increasingly worried and MP Robert Halfon has secured a debate on internet privacy which may mean that greater regulation may come into force. [[http://www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/home/2010/10/a-call-to-arms.html]]

Google knows too much about us
No because...

Googles just a target

looking at all the "Yes" complaint i began thinkking to myself "Just like AOL, ust like Firefox, just like Bing, just like facebook. Do you really think that some random guy working for google really gives a crap about your life? He could care less. he doesnt know you and probably doesnt care to. So even if they "know too much", what do they care? Im all for having privacy and a personal life but thats like being upset that the person at dunkin donuts knows what kind of coffee you ordred. God forbid

Yes because...


Google knows too much about us

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