Is It OK that Google Owns Us?

Google's continuously raked over the coals regarding the massive amounts of PII (personally identifiable information) it collects, what it does with it, how long it retains that data and what the company might do with it if its merger with DoubleClick goes ahead. That's all been ratcheted up to fever pitch over the past few weeks, with two new privacy headlines: complaints being voiced about Google's new Street View service's photographs getting too close for comfort and Privacy International's having flunked Google on its privacy policies and procedures in a report published June 9.

The fury boils down to one question: whether or not it's OK for Google to own us. Make no mistake, Google owns you. The ways in which it owns you are laid out in a complaint filed by EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) and other privacy groups with the Federal Trade Commission over Google's proposed merger with targeted advertising company DoubleClick.

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News source: eWeek

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I'm fine with Google, the only information they have about me is the info I gave them MYSELF, which arguably is essentially nothing

<laughs>

It's funny. The only people with legitimate concerns are the other companies that Google is threatening. The vast majority of Google's "customers" (I guess "consumers" would be a better term to use) have absolutely no problem with the company. It's all these other companies and organizations who feel threatened that are going about trying to stir up the hornet's nest over nothing.

I mean, oh no! Google keeps track of your search queries so that it can improve it's services, including providing you with ads you may be interested in instead of just flooding you with random ones! THE HORROR!

Google offers FREE -- and terrific -- services to its customers. It neither limits your options, tries to stop other companies from competing, nor does anything underhanded whatsoever. You're free to use other services (of which they are -tons- of viable options to choose from, unlike Microsoft Windows versus other operating systems), but people continuing Google's FREE services because they're not only free, but top notch.

Google has the type of business models more companies should try to emulate: Offering their customers some of the best services available without requiring anything from them whatsoever, and instead charge those who wish to advertise on their services. Well, with the exception of "allowing" them to take note of what choices you pick so that they can improve their services for you.

The vast few individuals who are going on about how horrible this is are just... well, funny. They're a prime example of the type of people who can't think for themselves and just embrace the Flavor of the Week panic attack that the spin doctors throw out.

Until such time Google does something -genuinely- underhanded or threatening, or the quality of their services dwindle, I'm going to be a staunch supporter of them. I just wish there were more companies of their ilk out there.

The fact that companies like Microsoft -- truely evil companies that genuinely try to thwart other companies and squelch competition -- are terrified of Google is a GOOD THING.

You know... giving away what is arguably a good chunk of privacy on the internet for some fancy free apps and laughing about it - I got to admire that.

Anyway, you have your opinion, I have mine. That is cool. But please do not accuse us, that are concerned about the subject, of "can't think for themselves". One would say it is exactly the opposite, as vast majority of Google users definitely do not think for themselves on this subject.

The issue here is not necessarily Google and them abusing the information (although that is a possibility too). Is it so far to think that a government can legislate their way into this and tap the information and we never find out? Or another corporation buys its way into it? Not possible? Right... that is because both corporations and governments are well known by having the average person's best interest in mind, right?

Finally - I fully agree with this:

I just wish there were more companies of their ilk out there.

That is exactly the point. When there are 20 different players, then concerns are smaller. When there is one dominant player, concerns rise as there are multiple sources of information feeding into the same place rather than being fractured between 20 sources controlled by independent bodies.

BigBoy said,
You know... giving away what is arguably a good chunk of privacy on the internet for some fancy free apps and laughing about it - I got to admire that.

Exactly what uber secretive privacy information are you giving up? Do you really think any of the companies and organizations bitching and moaning about Google don't collect information either? That Microsoft has no idea how many people purchase their products, which products they use the most, and throw your registration information and whatever else straight into the trash can?

The issue here is not necessarily Google and them abusing the information (although that is a possibility too). Is it so far to think that a government can legislate their way into this and tap the information and we never find out? Or another corporation buys its way into it? Not possible? Right... that is because both corporations and governments are well known by having the average person's best interest in mind, right? :huh:

Please leave your tinfoil hat at the door.

If there was some uber secret government conspiracy to collect all your search queries and other "private" information, then it wouldn't matter if it was one company they were ordering to give over that information or twenty. They'd still get it, and then come to your house, bust down your door, and do vile and un-Constitutional things to you all because you choose to look up "apples" instead of "oranges" on RandomSearchEngine.com. <insert rolling eyes here>

Is there any doubt as to whether or not Google offers a quality product? That they tailor their services as best they can to your personal needs and desires? How the hell do you expect them to do so if they don't collect information on your habits and preferences? And so what if they do collect that information for themselves? If you insist on wearing your tinfoil hats and living your life in a bomb shelter you built under your shed, fine, do so and use a proxy server any time you do anything anywhere on the "evil" internet.

But to try to convince yourself -- let alone anyone else with half a wit -- that Google is some evil entity trying to steal your personal information and summon demons and other hellspawns with it, or whatever silly notions you have, is ridiculous.

Until the day that they -do- perform some heinous and unforgivable act, it's not only unfair but ignorant to accuse them of the potential to do so. The United States, Canada, France, and many other countries have a law that basically states "innocent until proven guilty." That's not just a law, but a sound, civilized philosophical practice. One that's apparently counter to you and everyone else who's accusing Google of some grand conspiracy to destroy all things good in the world.

That is exactly the point. When there are 20 different players, then concerns are smaller. When there is one dominant player, concerns rise as there are multiple sources of information feeding into the same place rather than being fractured between 20 sources controlled by independent bodies.

Ah, so you're one of those pea-minded individuals who believe that success should be penalized. That's all you had to say. That's alllll you had to say.

google owns our asses and theres nothing (plausible) we can do about it, anyone owning us is a bad thing especially on the internet which is supposed to be free from some kind of central control.

For those that do not feel that Google can know a lot about them, I would invite you to search around for some interesting discussions of Google Cookie, and then combine that with the following list of how using multiple GOOG services really makes it worse:

http://www.centernetworks.com/big-brother-...-know-about-you

Of course, this is ultimately your decision. And while people that read this site might know how to block Google cookies and protect their privacy a bit better, an average Joe that buys a Dell and gets it preloaded with Google apps might not.

C_Guy said,
...but... the first thing you do with a new Dell is un-install all that crap/spy-ware.

That is what you and I might do. That is not what majority of users will do.

BigBoy said,

That is what you and I might do. That is not what majority of users will do.

Exactly. Need to keep in perspective that WE are not the average user.

If you don't think it's "ok" then don't use Google. Simple as that. You can decide if you want to be "owned" by Google or not by deciding to use its services.

Remember, nothing on the Internet is truly free.

This is all misdirection and stupidity.. This is even worse then claiming MS has a monopoly constantly...

first off... echelon.. or the streets of london

both of which are government set up to listen to people WITHOUT choice, to build database of statistical information.

now...

google has services that are COMPLETLY free to the end user.
the user can use the internet without using google
by using google, the user inputs as little or as much personal information as they wish

just like the ENTIRE internet, google is no different, only put in information, you have NO problem being tracked... 99% of the typical users internet traffic is unencrypted.. you can sniff the local router, and pick up IM chats, e-mails, etc etc...

google tells you in full honesty they do it, unlike most other companies

FURTHER

google works even if you put minimal to no personal information into it

isnt that beautiful comparied to some companies that make you tell them where you live, your phone number etc etc, just to sign up for something that doesnt really require that information?

be happy its free....


and try and think of the worst case senario.. they are trying to take your identity? or your money? if your worried, WHY are you giving out that information?

and if they can get that information without you giving it, then they can do it whether you use there stuff or not, so you might as well stop worrying :p

everyone get bent.. this is a compnany offering soo many free products, all they ask is for statistics!!!

In my mind, under NO circumstance, should a company "own" someone. That whole idea doesn't sound right to me. Why does Google even collect the personal information that they do? What are they going to do with it? They're a search provider (among a few other things) for crying out loud, what do they need our PII for? To track our searching habits and report any suspicious activities to the government, so then the government can then track us down with the information they got from Google? Ugh. What is this country coming to? :mad:

They track our PII because the user gives it to them freely. You give it to them when you sign up to use their services, and [stupid] people give it to them when they search for their own PII. Only a few services from Google (mainly biz apps) actually require SSN, Address, Phone, etc.

They track search results to tweak and improve their own system. It's not their fault there are stupid users out there.

I'd rather be "owned" by Google than a majority of the companies out there. It's not like it is anything new... Microsoft does the same thing and on a much larger scale (granted, they have a few years on Google).... search, email, IM, addresses, passport, games, office, os, browser, etc., etc., etc..

Is it ok that Google owns me? Well, I guess if I'm going to be owned by anyone, I'd rather it be Google than Microsoft, Sony, or AT&T. Google hasn't done anything yet that makes me feel uncomfortable. Oh no! They have my search data. That one is simple. Don't search for PII dummy.

Could be worse... you could be pwned by the RIAA/MPAA.

If I was ever owned by any company, I'd rather it be Microsoft than AT&T/CINGULAR!!! (WTF, I PAY 106 DOLLARS FOR MY BILL), COMCAST (EVIL BITCHES WITH THERE EVIL MONOPLY), Motorola (whatever you do, dont drop me, or i might break, stupid UNsturdy phones), and Google. Microsoft makes good products, others like AT&T and Comcast are monoplys and will rule the world by making us pay unwanted amounts of money to them...

Oh my god, Google knows what I search for!!! Wahhhhh!!! I better stop using my pc.

What a big pile of stinking crap. WTFC? I don't and neither should any of us. Damn, I'll even send my search results from other search engines to Google if it makes my searching experience better.

hold on. people are worried what google will do with your searches? can someone lay out a worst case scenario for me, maybe im just not grasping the entire idea here. its personal email and search strings, right? yet, thats somehow involved in some sinister plot?

Google is an amazing company, I'd love for them to get even bigger and have their hand in almost everything. I love everything about them.

The thing that worries me about Google is that they are very politically slanted and motivated and active to the extreme left. I dont trust them after what they've done with China....bent right over and grabbed their ankles.

its interesting how a few years ago Google was our saviour from MS now it seems they are gaining the same rep as any big corp? I suppose capitalism always wins in the end :P

How can Google own me if I don't use their service? I would think the free market would dictate what Google can/cannot do until such time that they are a legal monopoly.

Maybe I missed it somewhere between all the "Google has you by the nuts", and the "Google's motto used to be 'do no evil', get it, they're evil!", crap, but did they happen to mention what exactly Google plans on doing with our information that's going to pretty much cause the world to collapse?

If they did, I apologize in advance for my ignorance and my ability to skim over absolute bullsh*t gossip, and would appreciate it if someone would copy and paste the explanation.

Here's something I dug up from a local paper: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/organisation/sto...jectid=10441661

And here's a short quote:

In a mission statement that raises the spectre of an internet Big Brother, Google has revealed details of how it intends to organise and control the world's information.

The company's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, said during a visit to Britain this week: "The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as 'What shall I do tomorrow?' and 'What job shall I take?' "

Speaking at a conference organised by Google, he said : "We are very early in the total information we have within Google. The algorithms [software] will get better and we will get better at personalisation."

Google's declaration of intent was publicised at the same time it emerged that the company had also invested £2 million ($5.45 million) in a human genetics firm called 23andMe. The combination of genetic and internet profiling could prove a powerful tool in the battle for greater understanding of the behaviour of an online service user.

If that's not a bad thing, I don't know what is. And if they get Doubleclick, you wont even need to use their services for them to do it.

PII (personally identifiable information)

EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center)
That really irritates me. If an author is going to write out the full meaning in brackets anyway, then why bother to use the acronym in the first place? Just use the bloody words which everyone will understand. Oh, I recall why people do it now; they want to look clever.

As for the article: there's a huge assumption there that we, the mere mortal ones, use all of these services and tools provided by Google. I, for one, use only the mail and the search. I have no need for YouTube, for example, as I have an attention span that can last longer than twenty seconds.

They are welcome to collate my, what must be to the outside viewer, quite mundane search terms, and hey, if they want my spam and have more use for it than I, they are welcome to that too.

Any idiot who sends important email unencrypted, let alone through Google Mail, should need a license to exist anyway. That is my view, FWIW (for what it's worth).

It is common practice that when you will be using an acronym more than once in an article, essay, dissertation etc. that the first time you use it you explain it to the reader. From then on you may use it knowing that the reader understands. It's not done to look clever.

SniperX said,
Common practise does not make it any less irritating. It's just lazy to me.

How is it lazy? Or irritating for that matter? This is one of the very basics of writing essays et al. and is done for the benefit of the reader. After doing a quick Google (:)) you can see that it is normal, not lazy and is in fact functional.

SniperX said,
Common practise does not make it any less irritating. It's just lazy to me.


Somebody needs to switch to decaf.

Expanding the acronym during first use has been journalistic style (AP Style) for decades. Do a little checking and calm down.

The answer should be simple: no. Anything with that much information can and will be abused, either by the company itself or by governments.

You are correct, the answer is no, but not for the reason your are thinking. It is no because we let them "own us" voluntarily. If you don't want Google to have your information, then don't use their free services. My grocery store has a "Saver Card" that it uses to collect information on my spending habits and in return they give me pretty good discounts. If I don't want to give them my information, I can just forgo the discounts.

It all comes down to personal choice. I don't agree with MS business practice behavior so when there is an alternative tool that accomplishes the same job, I use it. Very simple.

lbmouse said,
You are correct, the answer is no, but not for the reason your are thinking. It is no because we let them "own us" voluntarily. If you don't want Google to have your information, then don't use their free services. My grocery store has a "Saver Card" that it uses to collect information on my spending habits and in return they give me pretty good discounts. If I don't want to give them my information, I can just forgo the discounts.

It all comes down to personal choice. I don't agree with MS business practice behavior so when there is an alternative tool that accomplishes the same job, I use it. Very simple.

I could not have said it better myself.

lbmouse said,
You are correct, the answer is no, but not for the reason your are thinking. It is no because we let them "own us" voluntarily. If you don't want Google to have your information, then don't use their free services. My grocery store has a "Saver Card" that it uses to collect information on my spending habits and in return they give me pretty good discounts. If I don't want to give them my information, I can just forgo the discounts.

It all comes down to personal choice. I don't agree with MS business practice behavior so when there is an alternative tool that accomplishes the same job, I use it. Very simple.

Incorrect. Because Google is buying Doubleclick, and they run Adsense, they can profile you with or without your permission. This should be illegal.