Tag Archives: Wall Street Journal

Eric Hague: Dear Google User…

Big Brother 2002 (UK)

Eric Hague is a humor writer – a funny letter he wrote pretending to be a member of Google’s privacy team was published by The Wall Street Journal today.

Google seems to think it knows what is best for us, knows everything about us, and is smarter than us – the amusing piece by Mr. Hague has a little fun with all that.

Head on over to The Wall Street Journal and read the full letter titled “Dear Google User: We’re Sure You’re Going to Love This” – click here

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Is It Legally Impossible To Go After Google Over Privacy Violations?

English: Gavel

Yesterday, I informed you that Google is facing a lot of legal trouble. When Google deliberately bypassed browser security of Apple Safari users, the company has been hit with countless lawsuits. Many Apple users are furious with Google for exposing them to spying and collecting their personal data without their permission. You can’t blame them for wanting to get some legal assistance to send a Google a clear message that privacy is a fundamental right you just can’t violate.

However, it seems like these people have an uphill battle. What Google did is wrong and despicable, but it will be extremely difficult to go after them legally. First of all, Google is a massive company with deep pockets and it’s heavily surrounded by lawyers. In addition, past legal cases have shown that courts often don’t do anything about breaches of online privacy. There have been people who sued Internet companies before and majority of them end up losing. The law isn’t currently on the side of the average user because the law doesn’t recognize online privacy as it should! Americans are completely vulnerable to these Internet companies and they can’t even seek protection from their courts of justice!

I read an excellent and informative article by Gerry Silver, a lawyer who specializes in IT litigation. In his article, titled “’Do Not Track’ – Online Privacy Litigation Now and in the Future”, Mr. Silver admits that people who seek court relief to tackle online privacy concerns are pretty much wasting their time. The courts do nothing about Internet companies, like Google, harvesting our personal data and using it for their own purposes – whatever it may be.

People have tried various ways to seek out some sort of justice from the courts to protect their online privacy – but it has all resulted in limited to no success.  Lawsuits have been filed claiming that Internet companies violated various laws, most commonly including:     

  • The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
  • The Wiretap Act
  • Stored Communication Act
  • Deceptive Act or Practice/ Unfair Competition Statutes
  • Trespass to Chattels
  • Contract-Based Claims
  • Right of Publicity Claims

 Many of these claims against the Internet companies fail because the courts force victims to prove their personal data has significant monetary value. They can’t claim damage on personal data because it doesn’t have real value apparently. Often times these third-parties that track you all over the Internet are not considered uninvited intruders – even though they steal your personal data without your full consent, they are off the hook if a website’s terms of service give them permission.

Many people don’t even know that there are hundreds of tracking companies that steal their personal data all the time. This collection of data is done completely without the permission of users and the vast majority of people are in the dark about tracking on the Internet to even voice their concerns against it.

It’s a real shame that the courts can’t really do anything about online privacy because the laws don’t go far enough. People have nowhere to turn but to pressure their representatives in government to pass comprehensive legislation that gives Americans more rights over their personal data. Mr. Silver writes that the new consumer online Privacy Bill of Rights (unveiled by the White House last month) is a good first step in getting Americans the desperately needed help to fight back against Internet companies – but it doesn’t go far enough.

“The institution of the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights and legislation arising therefrom may provide users with more control over what personal data companies collect and how they use it… However, Internet companies will still be able to use the information as part of their own market research and product development. Also, future compliance with the “Do Not Track” button appears to be voluntary at this point, meaning advertisers or other Internet companies may decide to attempt to override it.”

The White House proposal is still in its early stages, but if this proposed consumer Privacy Bill of Rights amounts to nothing meaningful for Americans then it won’t change the lack of support shown to victimized Americans and the dismal situation in the courts. More Americans will still go through lengthy and expensive legal tug-of-war with these Internet companies and Americans will always end up losing. Currently, Internet companies have everything in their favor and Americans simply don’t have enough protections.

English: Author: Irish Tug of War Source: (OWN)

Put the pressure on government representatives to act in favor of the average Internet user. Let them know that you’re serious about your online safety and that your personal data is yours alone. Privacy is not a privilege, it’s a right! The Internet companies and Google are ripping us off. They are taking, stealing, and milking us dry of our personal data! Say NO!  People need to care enough to make changes in government, then the government will make necessary legal changes, this will result in a safer Internet for all!

The Apple users suing Google have a strong case against Google – and their case differs from the typical Internet privacy related cases. Google actually used code to deliberately trick their browser into accepting tracking cookies, this code allowed Google to bypass the security setting of their browser which was set to prevent third-party tracking. Apple users had no idea this had happened to them until it was exposed by The Wall Street Journal’s report last month. This is an obvious violation of privacy and it has gone too far! Hopefully, these Apple users suing Google can ultimately triumph! It’s a difficult thing to do, but you gotta keep fighting from all angles until we finally breakthrough.

For more information:

Gerry Silver, “Do Not Track – Online Privacy Litigation Now and in the Future” – click here

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Google Faces More Privacy Scrutiny And Legal Trouble

Good news, folks!

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google is now facing new investigations over privacy violations. One month ago, Google was caught red-handed stealing personal data from the computers of Apple Safari users. Google used a code to trick Apple’s web browser into accepting tracking cookies, which would then track users on the Internet. Of course, Apple users had no idea this had happened to them and Google knew exactly what it was doing. The code Google used to bypass Apple’s web browser security had been known about for a number of years – Google made the unethical decision to exploit the security vulnerability very deliberately.   

Google was caught by a Stanford University researcher named Jonathan Mayer. He exposed Google by explaining in detail how the company was able to circumvent the Safari browser security to the Wall Street Journal. After being exposed, Google tried to play all innocent and stupid – “oh I’m sorry, I swear I had no idea my little code would do such a thing. Oops, oh well. Get over it”.

People didn’t get over it, immediately after the story was published by the Journal several lawsuits were filed against Google. The lawsuits have seemingly never stopped piling up! I have lost count how many times Google has been sued by their victims.

Anyway, there is word now that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – OMG, yes, FTC finally! – is seriously looking into whether Google violated privacy agreements.  The FTC has been in a deep sleep for a while now and hasn’t really said anything against Google. This is the first time we are hearing the FTC is actually taking real steps to correct transgression and triumph over ‘evil’.  The FTC can levy fines of $16,000 per violation, per day. This might not seem like very much punishment, especially for a company like Google, but Google victimized millions of people. There are millions of people who use Apple’s Safari web browser. If calculated appropriately and comprehensively, it can add up against Google very quickly.

But - Google was forced to pay up half a billion dollars before by the US Department of Justice for aiding and abetting a con artist to commit his crimes. That hasn’t stopped them from taking part in unethical behavior. Perhaps Google needs heavier legal penalties to prevent them from victimizing innocent people in the future. Google just doesn’t get it.

Google can sometimes be handled with kid gloves, but European regulators don’t play nice with Google. European Union data protection authorities are already investigating Google for its new intrusive privacy policy which took effect on March 1st. Their investigation now also includes the bypassing of Apple’s web browser security. It will be very interesting to see what they officially conclude!

We’ll just have to wait and see what develops. Stay tuned – to be continued!

For more information:

Wall Street Journal, “Google in New Privacy Probes” – click here

MercuryNews, “Google faces scrutiny from states” – click here

paidContent, “Lawsuits Mushroom Over Google Browser Tracking” – click here

MarketWatch (Press release), “Consumer Watchdog Applauds FTC, EU…” – click here

googleexposed, “Google Tricked And Lied To Apple Users...” – click here

googleexposed, “A Breakdown Of Google’s Statement…” – click here

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Google Fails To Convince The Public That Google Plus Isn’t A Failure

English: Google+ wordmark

A couple of days ago, I wrote about how Google’s latest attempt at social networking with the launch of Google Plus is a massive failure for the company. To catch up on that post, please click here

Okay, so yesterday Google responded to the embarrassing news about Google Plus by denying that it’s a virtual ghost town. Google vice president for engineering, Vic Gundotra, gave an interview with the New York Times. In this interview, Mr. Gundotra doesn’t really say anything new that we haven’t already heard from CEO Larry Page. I guess they haven’t learned from mistakes, so they will continue using the same lies to try to boost up their numbers. When one is desperate, they are willing to say and do anything.

Mr. Gundotra said that he has never seen anything at Google grow so fast as Google Plus. Hmm, perhaps – but has anything plummeted as fast as Google Plus? It’s true that Google Plus sign-up spiked by over a 1000% on the day of its public launch, but it soon almost completely died after a few days. After people satisfied their curiosity and saw that the product is absolutely useless, they hightailed out of there. It burned out so quickly.

Mr. Gundorta refused to give the New York Times any useful data that would indicate good health for Google Plus. He gave nothing to counter the Wall Street Journal’s reporting about the dismal user engagement on the site and said nothing about how people intertwine Google Plus has part of their daily routine.  This is what the New York Times wrote,

“About 50 million people who have created a Google Plus account actively use the company’s Google Plus-enhanced products daily, Mr. Gundotra said. Over a 30-day period, he said, that number is 100 million active users”

Google Plus-enhanced products”? WTF? What this means is that if somebody signs-up for a Google Plus account and that’s the only thing they ever do – it’s fine. As long as they are also still using other Google products and services, then it will still count as engagement on Google Plus. So if you use YouTube, you’re using Google Plus; if you use the search engine, you’re using Google Plus; if you use Gmail, you’re also using Google Plus.

Does Google think the public was born yesterday? Do you think we’re that stupid? Ha-ha. Only a really desperate company would try to boost up their numbers on a failed site by counting activity on a totally different site.  Just face it, Google Plus is yet another attempt at social networking that’s failed – and this one is a colossal failure.

Mr. Gundorta made sure to point out what Google is most proud of, which is “ad engagement” on all Google websites. He claims that socially recommended ads have a higher click-through rate, and this has been successful for Google. If a friend recommends a microwave to you, then research shows that you are more likely to click on an ad about that microwave. This is true; you are more likely take something more seriously if a friend recommends it to you. However, this doesn’t mean that Google Plus is successful in the least. All it means is that Google wants you to sign-up for a Google Plus account, give Google your friend contact list, and then start “+1-ing” (Google’s version of the Facebook “Like” button) anything you enjoy anywhere on the Internet. Those +1 buttons are pretty much everywhere. Google will then take that information and use it to serve your contacts advertisements. You basically become like a celebrity endorser of products – except you won’t have a multi-million dollar contract.

It’s so sad that Google cares so much about monetizing our personal information for huge profits and not, first and foremost, creating a great social atmosphere. Look, the reason why Google Plus sucks so much is because it’s a lousy product. Nobody I know uses Google Plus – nobody says “Hey, what’s your name on Google Plus? How can I find you on Google Plus? Let’s chat on Google Plus”. Ha-ha.

Google Plus is indeed a ghost town and nobody cares to ever use it. Even if Google can share your “+1s” with your friends to achieve higher click-through rates for ads – it won’t matter if there aren’t people “+1-ing” in the first place. Nobody is sharing anything on that lonesome site, which is why Google is hiding the real engagement numbers that matter.

Mr. Gundotra said,

“We have started the social engines at Google and we’re about to step on the gas”

Aww, how determined. Take your time stepping on that gas, Google. You already had about 9 months – take another 9 months if you must.

For more information:

New York Times, “Countering the Google Plus Image Problem” – click here

Mashable, “Google+ Enhanced Ads Are Up to 10% More Effective, Says Google” – click here

SFGate, “So THAT’S What Google+ Is Really About: Advertising (GOOG)” – click here

Atlantic Wire, “Google Fails to Convince People That Google+ Is Popular, Again” – click here

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Help! Google Has Fallen And It Can’t Get Up!

Can you hear that?

That sound…what is it? Oh, right! It’s the sound of crickets chirping.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal exposed embarrassing numbers for Google’s failed attempt at social networking. As a few of you already know, Google launched “Google Plus” last June to rival Facebook. Google Plus is pretty much a copy and paste of Facebook in the look and design of the site. Though, Google lacks many interesting features Facebook has and it lacks the gigantic numbers. While Facebook sits mighty high with over 800 million users from all over the world, Google Plus has a mere 90 million users (and that’s being generous).

You might think that 90 million is still pretty good – but is it really? It turns out that Google Plus may have managed to get 90 million users signed-up, but that’s just about the only thing most users are doing.

The engagement levels on Google Plus is quite pathetic – a dismal. It’s a virtual ghost town. The Wall Street Journal looked at statistics provided by comScore and saw that between September 2011 and January 2012 Google Plus users spent an average of – get this – three minutes per month on the site. In comparison, Facebook users spent an average six to seven hours on the site every month. It’s not even close.

Oh and do you remember Myspace – of course you do – well even their user engagement beats Google Plus by almost three times as much. Keep in mind that Myspace has an audience of about 27 million users smaller than Google Plus.

This embarrassing revelation serves Google right for lying. This is what happens when you try to boost up your sign-up numbers to give off the appearance that you’re successful, when you’re actually not.  In the first few days of its public launch, Google Plus spiked by 1,200% – but it quickly plummeted days later by 60%. Google loves to emphasize user count numbers to the media, but they are hesitant to disclose traffic numbers and the number of items people on the site share each day.

The CEO of Google, Larry Page, failed to tell the media the whole truth when he uttered this nonsense in January:

“Google Plus users are very engaged with our products. Over 60% of them engaged daily and 80% engaged weekly”

If journalists didn’t listen closely, they might have been really impressed with those numbers – especially considering that even Facebook doesn’t have over 60% of its users engaging on their site daily. If you noticed, Mr. Page said “our products”. Now, why would he bring up other Google products when the subject of the talk is supposed to be about Google Plus? Oh that’s right, it’s to bump up those numbers!

Google forces people to sign-up for a Google Plus account even when they don’t want it because Google thinks that if you use any one of Google’s products it means you want all of Google’s products. So if a person did a search on their search engine, Google will count that as engagement on Google Plus too –seriously haha. This is why their numbers are so bloated – it’s absolutely artificial and false. This is a great example on how Google misleads the public.

Even though everybody caught Google’s lies and exaggeration, Google still lives in its own little world. The vice president of product management for Google, Bradley Horowitz, said that “we’re growing by every metric we care about”. Ha-ha….okay…whatever dude….if it makes you happy.

However, not all Google employees are excited about Google Plus – at least not to the self-described “lowest leaf workers”. Steve Yegge, a Google engineer, accidently posted a 5,000 word rant ripping apart Google Plus and calling it a “pathetic afterthought” – ouch! Mr. Yegge inadvertently aired his frustration on his Google Plus page to all his followers when it was only meant to be seen by a few co-workers. He later apologized to his bosses – but he was just stating fact.

One of the things that frustrated Mr. Yegge was the fact that Google Plus fails to have good applications running on their site. Much of Facebook’s successful can be attributed to its games and apps – but Google fails big on this. Google doesn’t have nearly has much developed apps and the ones that they do have are showing underwhelming activity among users.

John Schappert, the chief operating officer of games maker Zynga, said Google Plus has “been slow on the uptick with users right now”. The company started offering games on the site since August 2011 and has seen nothing but disappointment. Zynga, however, performs very well on Facebook and they have a solid partnership.

But it isn’t just game companies that feel that users are not engaging with their applications, even companies who set up pages on Google Plus hate the site. Companies love setting up pages on Facebook so that people could “Like” their page and follow the messages the companies post. They love getting instant feedback from their customers and conversing with them. It’s a totally different story on Google Plus, though. For example, Intel Corp. has about 360,000 Google Plus followers who are quitter than a mouse – but the company has about 9 million fans on Facebook and you can’t get them to shut up.

Google Plus is a massive failure and its dismal record so far is even more pronounced because the company has a huge stake in its social networking site. That’s because Google is no longer just a place that sends you off to another site as quickly as possible – Google now wants to keep you on their site for as long as possible. Google is now known a “sticky portal”. It’s also one of the biggest reasons why they changed their privacy policy earlier this month. Google is on a mission to combat “the faceless web” (as a Google spokesperson admitted) and this means they want people sharing their personal information on Google Plus. If they could succeed in doing this, they could attract a lot more advertising dollars by selling your personal data. Advertisers love getting personal data so that they can target “personalized” advertisements at you. Google earns over 90% of its revenues from advertising. You are not Google’s customer, you’re Google’s product.

Google is so desperate to make Google Plus a success that they are even warned their employees that 25% of their bonuses would be tied to the success of Google Plus. I guess it’s more sleepless nights for those employees.

Google Plus is not the only failure for the company – Google’s other social networking site named Orkut is also underperforming. Before the launch of Google Plus, the company had Orkut and it used to do quite well in some countries around the world (although the vast majority of Americans never heard of it). Brazil has the fifth largest social networking population in the world and Orkut used to the number one destination for Brazilians – hmm, not anymore. Facebook has had a rapid growth of 192% yearly in Brazil. Facebook is now number one in Brazil, which is an upset for Google because most users of Orkut come from Brazil.

Other failures for Google so far include: Google TV, Google Music, and even its Chrome web browser has fallen recently.

Ah, karma – the beauty of it. Google has truly fallen in the hearts and minds of its users. Its days might truly be numbered.

For more information:

The Wall Street Journal, “The Mounting Minuses at Google+” – click here

MarketWatch, “Google’s arrogance exposed in Google+” – click here

BBC, “Facebook overtakes Google’s Orkut in Brazil – Comscore” – click here

Mashable, “Google Engineer Accidentally Posts Rant About Google+” – click here

PCMag, “Will The Real Google+ Engagement Figures Please Stand Up?” – click here

The Guardian, “Time spent on Google+ dwindles while Pinterest draws growing user interest” – click here

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The US Federal Trade Commission Wants Privacy Advocacy Group To Back Off

 Just under two weeks ago, I wrote about The Electronic Privacy Information Center’s (EPIC) lawsuit against the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to force the federal agency to punish Google for breaking terms of its settlement with the agency. To get fully caught up or to refresh your memory, please go back and read through two of my posts discussing this lawsuit and then return back to this one: click here and here

Alright, so the federal court asked the FTC to submit their response to the lawsuit filed by EPIC by Friday, February 17th, 2012. The FTC did get back to the court by that date and basically told the court that they want the lawsuit to be dismissed because EPIC has no right to tell the FTC how to do their job. The FTC made no mention of whether or not EPIC is correct in wanting to punish Google for violating the consent order – the agency just wants EPIC not to force it to take action against Google. If the federal agency is going to take actions against Google, it wants to do it on its own. An FTC spokeswoman, Claudia Farrell, said:

“We are asking the court to dismiss the case because parties such as EPIC are barred by law from interfering with the proper investigation and enforcement of F.T.C. orders”

The issue here is that the agency is arguing that since EPIC was not a party to the settlement agreement between Google and the FTC – it should have no say whatsoever in how Google should be scrutinized. The FTC wants to reserve to right to make decisions under its own discretion.

The FTC believes that the involvement of public interest groups, business competitors, and other kinds of groups imposing themselves into the business of the FTC will give too much power to these groups. However, EPIC is arguing that the Federal Trade Commission Act creates a non-discretionary duty for the FTC to act on violations of consent orders. EPIC just wants the FTC to acknowledge the obvious violations by Google and punish Google quicker because time is of the essence here since Google vowed that it would start consolidating and further monetize personal data of its users starting March 1st. Epic’s executive director, Marc Rotenberg, said:

“There can be no question that the Federal Trade Commission has a duty to enforce its final order in the Google matter”

The FTC should get its act together and do the right thing here. Stop stalling for time and getting your feelings hurt because an advocacy group is telling you how to do your job better. EPIC does not want to “deprive the Commission of the discretion to exercise its enforcement authority“; it just wants the agency to see the obvious and then appropriately act on it swiftly.

The irony is that the same day the FTC filed an opposition and a motion to dismiss EPIC’s lawsuit, the Wall Street Journal exposed Google for spying on Apple users.

EPIC is expected to respond to the federal court tomorrow, February 21st.

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A Breakdown Of Google’s Statement After Being Exposed Spying On Apple Users

The morning after The Wall Street Journal exposed Google’s tracking of unsuspecting Apple users, Google released a statement in an attempt at damage control. The statement, however, is a shameful display of Google’s expertise in twisting the truth and spin. Let’s take a closer examination of the full statement:

Friday, February 17th, 2012 – Rachel Whetstone, Google’s senior vice president for communications released this to the media:

“The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.

Unlike other major browsers, Apple’s Safari browser blocks third-party cookies by default.  However, Safari enables many web features for its users that rely on third parties and third-party cookies, such as “Like” buttons.  Last year, we began using this functionality to enable features for signed-in Google users on Safari who had opted to see personalized ads and other content–such as the ability to “+1” things that interest them.

To enable these features, we created a temporary communication link between Safari browsers and Google’s servers, so that we could ascertain whether Safari users were also signed into Google, and had opted for this type of personalization. But we designed this so that the information passing between the user’s Safari browser and Google’s servers was anonymous–effectively creating a barrier between their personal information and the web content they browse.

However, the Safari browser contained functionality that then enabled other Google advertising cookies to be set on the browser. We didn’t anticipate that this would happen, and we have now started removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers.  It’s important to stress that, just as on other browsers, these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.”

 Henry Blodget, who writes for Business Insider, wrote that people would need a “PhD in reading-between-the-lines to figure out” what Google actually means by this ridiculous convoluted statement. Google tried once again to deceive people by the way they phrased and worded their statement. The company obviously thinks the general public is too stupid to see right past their truth bending.

 The first sentence of Google’s statement does not entirely dispute the reporting by The Wall Street Journal. The “known Safari functionality” that Google refers to is what The Wall Street Journal called a “loophole” in Apple’s browser security and which Google exploited. It was “known” because the loophole was discovered as early as 2010 and some in the tech community knew about it.

And signed-in users had NOT enabled it – Google did. Google changed the code to trick the Safari browser into thinking the user was filling out a form and it then permitted a tracking cookie to be set. Apple users clearly thought that they were being protected from tracking, so shame on Google for trying to blame the victim.

 As for the claim that tracking cookies do not collect personal information – well, that’s a load of bull, because these cookies hold a lot of personal information. This is what Jonathan Mayer, the Stanford University researcher who first discovered what Google was doing, had to say in a telephone interview:

 “We have a design document that directly contradicts this statement. The social personalization cookie contains a copy of (a user’s) account ID. I don’t know what definition they’re using (for personal information), but a user’s account ID is included in any reasonable definition. That’s the account that lets you pull up their email, search history, the videos they’ve viewed, the list goes on and on.”

 In an amusing mockery of the last two paragraphs in Google’s statement, Henry Blodget offered this analogy, in the communication style Google used, to give you a sense of how ridiculous Google’s logic is:

 “I was walking down the street past a friend’s house, and I thought my friend wouldn’t mind if I went in and watched TV and ate some food. There was a window open, so I climbed through it. While I was in the kitchen, I saw some cash. In a situation that I did not anticipate when I climbed through the window, the design of the house enabled this cash to be scooped up by my hands.”

 This tactic of deception Google has been using for so long to cover its dirty tracks is getting tired. What’s most hopeful, though, is that the general public is becoming increasingly more knowledgeable about what Big Google is really up to. We’re on to you, Big Google – we are becoming resistant to your BS.

 You can read the entire transcript of the telephone interview with Stanford researcher, Jonathan Mayer, where he disputes nearly every point made by Google – click here

 For some background on everything discussed here, CBS News did a great job covering what happened – click here

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Google Tricked And Lied To Apple Users To Make It Easier To Later Spy On Them

Yesterday, I posted here how you can better protect yourselves against Google by making sure your iPhone’s settings are set to maximum security. My post, which I titled “How to block Google from tracking you on your iPhone“, gave you steps for you to follow. In addition, I provided you a link to the Business Insider website that has the full 10 steps. Here is a link to the post I’m referring to – click here

Let’s take a closer look at step number 7, which advised you to do the following:

“This screen will pop up. Hit ‘Never.’ That means your browser will never accept any cookies. (Google’s trick took advantage of the “From visited” setting. That setting means you only want cookies from sites you visit. But Google and other ad networks found a way to deliver their cookies anyway.) Then hit ‘Safari’ to go back to the last screen.”

This is a critical step because, as already pointed out to you, Google was able to circumvent Apple’s security setting through a loophole in the “From visited” setting. What Google figured was that Apple designed their browser to only accept cookies from the actual page users are on if the browser thought users trusted the site enough to file out a form. Google then deliberately manipulated the browser to accept Google’s tracking cookies by changing a code to trick the browser into thinking that the user was filling out a form when in actuality they were not. For an illustration on how this works, you can click here

Alright, if you thought that was bad enough – wait, it gets worse! Let me tell you just how disgusting and low Google was willing to go. Google not only targeted innocent unsuspecting users of Apple’s web browser, who thought that they were not being tracked, but Google also intentionally lied and deceived them too!

Google didn’t just secretly go and change the security setting of Apple users’ browser – they also gave false advice to innocent people to follow, so that Google could carry out its tracking and manipulate the browser.

How did Google deceivingly set people up to be later victimized? Okay, here are the sordid details explaining what exactly Google did:

Google knew about the loophole in Apple’s Safari security setting as early as 2010, as reported by Tech website Gizmodo.

Google has something called an “advertising cookie opt-out plugin”, which was supposedly developed by Google to give people a way to block third-party cookies (hmm, whatever!). So anyway, this plugin was developed for users of Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Google’s own browser named Chrome.

Conspicuously missing from this list was Apple’s web browser, Safari, which Google decided not to include. Google claimed that they couldn’t yet create a similar plugin that could function on Safari – but they reassured Apple’s users that their browser already has a built-in default setting which effectively blocks tracking anyway.

Then, Google told Apple users to double-check if they are truly protected from tracking cookies by checking their settings. Google gave them a 3 step instruction to “confirm that Safari is set up to block third-party cookies“.

This is what Google told Apple users in step 3:

“Make sure the ‘Accept cookies’ setting is set to ‘Only from sites you navigate to’. You can also set this option to ‘Never’, but this will prevent many web sites that rely on cookies from working.”

Wow! The level of deception is absolutely abhorrent! Now that we know what Google did to Apple users, this last step Google provided to innocent people makes more sense in hindsight. Google deliberately gave unsuspecting and trusting Apple users the wrong advice to make them more vulnerable to spyware and tracking!

What Google did is morally and ethically corrupt – it should also be illegal!

By the way, that “advertising cookie opt-out plugin” page has now been edited by Google to hide the evidence. Some time between February 14th and 15th, Google found out that the Wall Street Journal was in the process of writing a story about the tracking of Apple users – Google then immediately edited that page so that the instructions for Apple Safari users is no longer there.

But they couldn’t hide it fast enough because a non-profit consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog took screenshots of the page before it had been edited and after it was edited by Google.

This is a screenshot before Google edited the page: click here

This is the screenshot of that same page after Google edited it: click here

The advocacy group has written a letter to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) detailing what they found. The group is calling on the FTC to take actions to punish Google for clearly violating the consent order the company agreed to last year.

According to Walter Isaacson’s bestselling authorized biography on the late CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs was a fierce defender of the iPhone. Steve Jobs was “willing to go thermonuclear war” against Google to defend his products and users. Sadly, Mr. Jobs passed away last year from cancer – but this doesn’t mean Apple users are not fighting back against Google. One man has already filed a lawsuit against Google (click here)

For more information on all of this, please click here

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Wall Street Journal: “I’m Still Terrified” Of Google’s Lack Of Privacy

 Great video by the Wall Street Journal explaining changes to Google’s privacy policy. There is one thing I have to correct though. In the video, Julia Angwin says that “technically you can do anonymous searches” if you never logon Google services or stay logged on while doing a search. This is not really accurate because Google can and will still track you whether or not you have an account with them. Your browser, Internet IP address, your location, and your search queries are all traceable directly back to you. Please do not think for a second that you can still use Google services without an account and have this false sense of security that you are not being tracked.

I do love the great point Simon Constable brought up at around 2:29 into the video. He says that the technology editor, Julia Angwin, is “very attuned” to privacy on the Internet and is very knowledgeable – and yet even she can easily get victimized. Google knows this very well. Google knows that the average person is not going to know everything they should know.

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