June 21, 2007

My _Guardian_ column on Google and Privacy


"The task is to prise out any abuses from behind the wall of corporate secrecy. Otherwise, we could end up with an unholy alliance between corporations and governments."

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google | on June 21, 2007 01:05 AM (Infothought permalink)
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> Any intelligence agency moles at Google
> (and it's likely there are a few) will
> not have a public record identifying them
> as potential secret agents.

Why do you think there likely are a few?

Posted by: Philipp Lenssen at June 21, 2007 08:13 PM

Because that's the historical modus pperandi of intelligence agencies. Plus Google, or a search engine in general, would be considered a great job for an "analyst" type person (technology transfer!)

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at June 21, 2007 08:41 PM

"versus a general industry indictment, can be a distraction from the need to implement privacy protections which cannot be easily ignored."

What protections? How are they enforced? Who audits them? [Trust But Verify - isn't just for nuclear arms reductions]. And getting the government to do the verifying isn't going to solve the problem.

Independent privacy auditor - just like they get their finances done. Only problem is - anyone good enough to do the job properly would be a damn good recruit for any IT organisation.

I am sure startup google killers will be glad to hear they have to pay a vast sum to someone just so they can check they are behaving according to rules set down by an organisation they have no contact with - even assuming their technology model supports such privacy "abuses".

If people are worried about their privacy - search via proxy while not logged into any website if you can't get by without google - doesn't stop your isp reporting what you do though.

Now you might be able to create a search model that preserves privacy - but selling ads to unknown people with unknowable behaviour doesn't sound like a good business model (because the instant you sell something all privacy is broken) - it might work but I don't see how,

Posted by: tqft at June 21, 2007 09:00 PM

tqft: In Europe and Scandanavia, there are extensive laws covering exactly this sort of issue, and they're extremely unsympathetic to the argument that it hinders business. They have some bad memories of how all that data got used in the World World II era, and the fact that someone can make a buck on it isn't considered the most important value above all others.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at June 21, 2007 09:56 PM

Very interesting article, which could leave us scared.
Today there was an interesting post on altsearchengines.com "A Private Interview with Faroo", about FAROO, a peer-to-peer web search engine which tries to protect privacy by serving as distributed anonymizer.

Posted by: wolf at June 22, 2007 09:48 AM
Any intelligence agency moles at Google (and it's likely there are a few) . . . .

Who do you suspect? Blythe?

Personally, I think it's the "leetle swan", Dr. Anders!

Posted by: nedu at June 23, 2007 01:10 PM