Tag Archives: Privacy

The US Federal Trade Commission Releases Online Privacy Report

For more information:

SlashGear, “FTC echoes public siren call for De-Personalized Web” – click here

Washington Post, “FTC releases final privacy report...” – click here

Washington Post – click here

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Google Is Extremely “Hostile” Toward Privacy

This is an interesting video from the CBC from a few years ago. Even back then Google was considered a huge threat to privacy and personal freedom on the Internet. Things have since gotten worse with Google – I wonder how bad it will get until people finally say “we’re not gonna take it anymore!”

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BBC: Internet Privacy Paranoia Or Legitimate Concerns

The BBC published an interesting article today about Internet privacy. Google is the biggest of the Big Brothers and collects your information more than any other Internet company in the world – it even rivals some repressive government intrusion on the personal lives of citizens. Google does not give users explicit consent to sell their personal data to third parties, Google does not allow users to opt-out of data harvesting, and Google is not completely forthcoming about exactly what they do with our personal data.

Please read through the BBC article for yourself. The strong desire to protect our personal information on the Internet is definitely not paranoia, it’s simply being smart. Several recent surveys have shown that the vast majority of Internet users are deeply concerned about privacy on the Internet but many don’t know how to protect themselves. The media and governments need to make sure that people are educated about online safety and have strong laws in place to protect innocent people.

By the way – I love the “Big Brother” (or Big Google) eye picture the BBC accompanied with the article :)

Read more – click here

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Google Engineer: “Google Is The Biggest Data Collector In The World, Period”

Big Brother 2007 (UK)

Google is currently struggling with a brain drain as many of its employees are departing the company to found their own companies and to take advantage of better opportunities at emerging companies. Recently, Google’s very first employee, Craig Silverstein, left the company to pursue a more fulfilling career. Some Google employees are leaving because they feel that Google has changed over the years. This is definitely how a former Google executive, James Whittaker, felt when he left Google earlier this year.

In a blog post, Mr. Whittaker said that Google became more about chasing after Facebook and competing for precious advertising dollars – Google became less about maintaining a great internal culture and ethical business standards. Google is now willing to say and do anything to further itself in a competitive industry, which means that the company couldn’t care less about your privacy. Google’s number one customers are the advertisers. Google makes over 90% of its revenues from advertising – it is by far the world’s most intrusive company on the Internet. Google is able to track our web movements on literally millions of websites, without our knowledge or consent.

However, not all Google employees are happy about what Google is doing with our personal data. Some Google employees refuse to take part in something that is against their personal ethics. Former Google engineers Brian Kennish and Austin Chau founded Disconnect. Their new company’s mission is to give Internet users back control of their personal data.

Mr. Kennish says that Google is the biggest collector of personal data in the world – bar none – and this disturbed him enough that he decided to leave the company to work on a project that limits online tracking. He first got started with the Disconnect project while working at Google. He read an article about the lack of privacy on the Internet and how tracking companies are spying on our web surfing. He went home and created a browser extension that blocked third party tracking on Facebook.

He later quit his job at Google – this eventually led him to found his new company and expand services to block tracking on more websites, including Google. I have written on here several times before that Google is the biggest of the Big Brothers. This means that Google knows a lot about you. Google offers many products and services (YouTube, Gmail, Blogger, Google Search, Android, etc), this company is everywhere. On top of all this, Google has tracking devices all over the Internet – this means that even if you’re not on a Google owned website Google can still track you!

This is disturbing! Google’s new more intrusive privacy policy will allow the company to track you even more closely. At least there are some Google employees who aren’t afraid to speak up and do what’s right. Let’s hope that more Google employees find the courage to do what is right.

The video below is presentation by Brian Kennish – it’s definitely worth watching (pay especial attention at 10:00 – 10:33 mark in the video – this has happened!)

For more information:

ITProPortal, “Ex-Google Staff Working To Disconnect Surfers From Data Tracking” – click here

TechCrunch, “Disconnect: Ex-Googlers Raise Funding To Stop Google…” – click here

Nasdaq, “Google’s VP Of Product Management Leaving To Launch Startup” – click here

ITWorld, “How to get off Google for good” – click here

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Google Wants To Know More About You But Wants You To Know Less About Google

Image representing Eric Schmidt as depicted in...

Image by Charles Haynes via CrunchBase

Google’s executives don’t like when people invade their privacy – but they have no problem doing it to others. Google loves to sell our personal information to advertisers and harvest our personal data indefinitely, but the privacy of Google employees should not be messed with.

I came across this interesting article from Gawker the other day and it describes how Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, hates it when the media focuses on his personal life. Let’s get one thing straight here, this blog is not a tabloid – I couldn’t care less about the personal lives of Google employees. However, I find it hypocritical and ironic that a public figure like Mr. Schmidt gets so angry about details of his personal life leaking out.

Back in the summer of 2005, CNET published an article about privacy and Google. The CNET article included publicly available information about Mr. Schmidt and this apparently hit a nerve with Google. Google reportedly blacklisted CNET reporters for an entire year. You see, if you make Big Google mad then you better be ready for some major backlash.

It’s really interesting to read through that CNET article from seven years ago. You’ll notice how some things never change. Even back then people were complaining about lack of privacy and how Google collects tons of sensitive data about us. The one major difference between now and seven years ago is the trust people had in Google drastically dwindled. Google is no longer seen as the trustworthy and altruistic company – the “do no evil” type of company. Gone are the days Google could do whatever it wanted without much scrutiny. People are on to Google now – the public knows better.

I love how that CNET article ended – “Trust is hard to earn, easy to lose and nearly impossible to win back”.

For more information:

Gawker – click here

IBTimes – click here

CNET – click here

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Mat Honan: The Case Against Google

Today’s must read article comes from Gizmodo’s Mat Honan who published a post titled “The Case Against Google”. It’s a pretty comprehensive and an excellent article which reminds you of just how much Google has changed and fallen. Google is no longer the same company it once was and it’s willing to say or do anything to maximize its profits. I urge you to go and read Mat Honan’s article in its entirety. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The bottom line: People don’t trust Google with their data. And that’s new.”

 

  • Google is a fundamentally different company than it has been in the past. Its culture and direction have changed radically in the past 18 months”

 

  • But there’s a remarkably simple explanation: Search is no longer Google’s core product.”

 

  • There is only one path to that answer, and it goes straight through your privacy. Google can’t deliver this kind of a tailored result if you’re using all kinds of other services that it doesn’t control. Nor can it do it if you keep your Google services separated. You have to do all the things you used to do elsewhere within the confines of one big information sharing service called Google.”

 

  • Google wants to know things about you that you aren’t already telling it so you will continue asking it questions and it can continue serving ads against the questions you ask it. So, it feels like it has to herd people into using Google+ whether they want to go there or not.”

 

  • This explains why Google has been driving privacy advocates crazy and polluting its search results. It explains why now, on the Google homepage, there’s a big ugly black bar across the top that reminds you of all its properties. It explains the glaring red box with the meaningless numbers that so desperately begs you to come see what’s happening in its anti-social network. It explains why Google is being a bully. It explains why Google broke search: Because to remain relevant it has to give real-world answers.”

 

  • What happens if, ten years from now, Google drastically changes again? Will you still be able to wipe yourself from Google’s drives? Will there be a massive, or incremental policy shift? Will it secretly keep bits of you, just as it has secretly tracked bits of you, against your wishes? If Google is already going back on some of its initial promises, what comes next? If it can break one, can’t it break them all?”

 

  • Google is far bigger now, and far less susceptible to the whims of the public. But I hope that, to some extent, it is still listening. Because the case against Google is for the first time starting to outweigh the case for it.”

 

  • If it can’t keep its promises, if it can’t avoid resorting to trickery, if it can’t keep itself from subverting the power of its search engine for commercial ends, and on top of all that if it can’t even deliver the highest quality search results at a default setting—the most basic thing people have come to expect from Google, the very thing its name has become synonymous with—why should you trust it with your personal data?”

 

Read more – click here

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Google, Please Keep Your Hands Off Our Personal Data

Hey Google, let me let you on a little secret - how to treat an Internet user right:

If you wanna touch our personal data – ASK! Get our full consent!

Smiley from the sMirC-series. tongue

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Users Sue Google At A Federal Court In New York

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Google’s customers are fighting back against the company for changing the way it does business without the full consent of its users. Consumers feel betrayed, disturbed, and wronged by Google when the company decided to consolidate its several privacy policies into one policy.

Google’s new more intrusive privacy policy took effect on March 1st, 2012. This policy now allows Google to combine your personal information from all of its products so that the company can figure you out better. The company wants to eliminate “the faceless Web”, which means that you have less privacy and Google has more of your personal data.

The new privacy policy (which many say equals to no privacy at all) allows Google to more easily sell your personal data to advertisers. Of course, the more Google knows about you the more valuable that data is to advertisers. Google makes over 90% of its revenues from advertising.

The potential class action lawsuit against Google was filed today in a federal court in New York. The persons who filed the lawsuit are seeking monetary damages from Google for deception and are complaining that their privacy has been violated by Google.

If you recall, back in late February 36 US attorneys general sent Google a strongly worded letter saying that they have strong concerns about Google’s new privacy policy. The attorneys general urged Google to reconsider implementing their “troubling” privacy policy, or at least give users an “opt-out” option. Google refused to let users opt-out of increased data harvesting and said that if users are really concerned they can commit the ultimate opt-out by not using any Google product at all.

But the attorneys general said that ditching Google’s products altogether is easier said than done. They wrote:

“This invasion of privacy will be costly for many users to escape. For users who rely on Google products for their business – a use that Google has actively promoted – avoiding this information sharing may mean moving their entire business over to different platforms, reprinting any business cards or letterhead that contained Gmail addresses, re-training employees on web-based sharing and calendar services, and more. The problem is compounded for the many federal, state, and local government agencies that have transitioned to Google Apps for Government at the encouragement of your company,and that now will need to spend taxpayer dollars determining how this change affects the security of their information and whether they need to switch to different platforms.”

Millions of people bought into the hype and lies Google sold us for many years. Many of us thought that Google wasn’t like other companies and that it could do no evil. But Google is far from being a good, altruistic, and ethical company. Google will say and do just about anything to maximize its profits – even if it disadvantages users.

Earlier this month – a British man named Alex Hanff sued Google at a small claims court to compensate him for a new smartphone. Mr. Hanff said that he no longer can use Google’s phone after the company changed its privacy policy. He said that the changes are a “significant infringement” to his rights and that he gave Google no consent to collect even more personal data about him.

Google is facing lawsuits from all sorts of different places and for a variety of reasons. It’s also facing increasing pressure from international regulators. This is all bad news for Google, but good news for the average consumer. Keep putting the pressures on Google.

For more information:

Financial Post – click here

googleexposed – click here

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Big Google Wants To Listen To Your Phone Calls Too

Android Robot. Français : le logo d'android 日本...

 Google is about to get a lot creepier.

Remember when major companies like Microsoft and consumer advocacy groups warned people that Google reads your emails to serve you ads? Well – now Google has plans to listen to your phone calls too on Google powered smartphones to serve you ads in real-time.

Google has new technology that will allow it to hear the background noise during your phone calls. If you’re making a call while it’s raining outside, Google will pick this up and will serve you ads for umbrellas. Creepy to the max!

Google will do anything to line its pockets with more advertising dollars and consumers will have more of their privacy diminished. Google makes over 90% of its revenues from advertising. You are not Google’s customer, you’re Google’s product. They sell your personal information to advertisers so that they can rake in about $40 billion every year.

Read more – click here

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The FTC Has A Strong Case Against Google

Federal Trade Commission

The Stanford privacy researcher who first uncovered Google evading the default privacy settings for all users of Apple’s Safari web browser believes that the Federal Trade Commission has a “slam dunk” case that Google violated its privacy agreement with the government.

The facts in this case are unusually clear cut,” Jonathan Mayer, a grad student in computer science and law and a researcher at the Stanford Law Center for Internet and Society, in a phone interview with TPM.

Read more – click here

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