April 03, 2004

Total Google Awareness

[This was accepted to the interesting-people list, replying to a news story regarding "Google's E-Mail Strategy Criticized"]

> ...Google records the numerical Internet addresses of the computers that
> request each of the Web searches the company performs. But it hasn't had
> names or other identifying information to link those addresses to specific
> people and learn who, for example, is searching for "Janet Jackson halftime
> show."

Not on a mass scale, no. But ... Orkut.

Orkut's privacy policy

"We may share both personally identifiable information about you and aggregate usage information that we collect with Google Inc. and agents of orkut in accordance to the terms and conditions of this Privacy Policy."

Google will now have the equivalent of a "mail cover" (tracking who is sending email to whom - and about what!), plus "friends" social data, plus web searching data ...

And they're going to scan all your mail for keywords, in order to better fight terrorism, I mean, serve ads ...

Forget about "Total Information Awareness". It would be cheaper for the Federal government to just buy into Google.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google | on April 03, 2004 09:13 AM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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re: cornering the market for tinfoil

people love to love google, but you have the point.

smart to hit the button issue of terrorism, but let's not overlook the obvious--the bush administration has spent more effort fighting dissent than terrorism.

in the end, you fail the fiscal conservative test, the government should not buy into google, they can have murdoch (fox news) do it for them.

Posted by: sean broderick at April 3, 2004 09:46 AM

On a side google note...

I have used google to circumvent certain surfin-gate type blocks at work using cache and just encountered (for the first time) a total block from the search page...

This is new to me, someone has gotten wise and now the search begins for new ways around the wall.

Posted by: Aminna at April 5, 2004 10:58 PM

Google have Tony Blair Syndrome: their faith in their own good intentions blind them to the potentially bad consequences of their actions. More, and some self-help, here. Anonymize the cookie GUID with the GoogleAnon bookmarklet to discombobulate your profile. And even if you use a Groups posting account, or Orkut, or other Google Account services, your volunteered information will be divorced from your searching/buying information ....... http://www.imilly.com/google-cookie.htm

Posted by: Milly at April 6, 2004 10:25 PM

I know you're a technical guy, so let me ask a technical question. How can Google link your Orkut activity to your Google browsing? The cookies are not the same, one is for google.com and the other is for orkut.com. Is there some linkage between the two?

Posted by: Cypherpunk at April 12, 2004 11:35 PM

Cypherpunk: IP address. Do a google search near the same time as you've connected to Orkut, and the IP address links the two cookies. And once they're linked, they're linked forever (until the cookie is deleted). Very simple.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at April 12, 2004 11:47 PM