Google Privacy Considerations

 


 

 According to D.C. political rag The Hill, a major watchdog group “wants probes of Google’s ‘unusually close’ ties to Obama

The complaint was sparked in part by, The Hill states, the fact that “Google admitted last month that it collected and stored private user information, including passwords and entire e-mails, from Wi-Fi networks”

But, they were not punished in any way:  

“the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) closed an inquiry into the issue, citing promises from the company that it would improve its privacy practices,” the article, by Sara Jerome, states.

I hate to make the jump, but when you consider Google, Inc. and subsidiaries’ reach on the U.S. Internet market, it becomes clear that the Web’s very decentralization – that which makes it the wonderful (albeit sloppy and complicated and sometimes disgusting) thing that it is, is at issue for the politicians in D.C.

In other words, the issue is important enough to have reached the attention of the Executive Branch. And this administration is not at all ill-versed with the Web and its implications for politics (i.e., their own political fortunes). Obama’s original PAC built its base of campaign cash w/ online donations. This is known. And Obama/Biden swept to victory with a Web marketing strategy far exceeding that of McCain in scope and ambition, and, ultimately, delivery of the goods (cash-money).

So — there is no doubt the reasons are POLITICAL. Why else would an administration be interested in Google? To see how many daily hits Whitehouse.gov gets?

See also the article“In Support of Net Diversity – Not Net “Neutrality”.

From the pittance of info we end-users are allotted to peek at, the steps below are one way to see the nature of the personal data Google has on you and me. Google retains this data if you use just one of ANY Google products, including Gmail, YouTube, Blogger/Blogspot, or any Google App.

To get there through Gmail, do this:

  1. Sign-in to Gmail. At the upper-right of your inbox, click Settings
  2. On the Settings page you’ll see a variety of tabs. Select the Accounts tab and click the Google Account settings link.
  3. At the “Google accounts” page under the “Personal Settings” header, look for “Dashboard.” Click View data stored with this account. (This page should show, roughly, as URL <https://www.google.com/dashboard/&gt;.) 

The left-hand column shows all Google products you may have signed up for. The right-hand column displays links to the associated data.

Scroll down the list and you can see that ALL of your activity has been scrupulously archived and is available for you (and, of course, Google, Inc.).

For example, for me, under the Gmail subheader I see “Inbox 4000 conversations”, and in the right-hand column a “Manage chat history” hyperlink. This link appears to contain every “chat” catalogued as far back as the creation of your Gmail account.

Under the left-hand column again, looking at “YouTube”, you find the hyperlink “Viewing history”. Here Google has your entire YouTube history catalogued chronologically. (How far back in time is unclear.)

The Web History header encompasses your Google searches. It includes hyperlinked subheadings “Web”; “Images”; “Video”; “Maps”; and “Blogs”, among others; and a chronologically catalogued, veritable plethora of data on my Google Search Engine searches!

Also under the Web History header, “Maps” includes a history of locations you have searched for or viewed with Google Maps. Interestingly, under the “Blogs” subheading, I was surprised to find data pertaining to one of my WordPress-hosted blogs (which, to my knowledge, had no Google apps activated. I’m at a lost to explain how the data would end up here in Google’s archive on me. Perhaps via Feedburner? I don’t know (go figure).

Lastly, if you’ve ever registered a domain name and concurrently signed up w/ Google Apps to assist w/ web-site administration/analytics, this too is listed in the left-hand column under “Webmaster Tools” – and, if you had ever activated Google Analytics for that domain name – under “Analytics”.

This “Dashboard” as it’s called, includes, in the right-hand column, various “Privacy” links that briefly explain the stated policy for that particular Google product. But each product has its own set of rules. By no means is anything standardized. 

This is a brief, probably incomplete explication of what I’ve found regarding Google’s collection of personal information.

Be it for marketing purposes or for statistical feedback, the idea that one private corporation should have such extensive reach into private user data is cause for – at the very least – serious consideration. At worst it’s a serious dereliction of terms of use and an illegal breach of user privacy.

Unfortunately, our fledgling World-Wide Web’s nebulous regulations make legalities hard to pin down. Bodies governing television and radio broadcasting have, not surprisingly, been unable or unwilling to keep pace with the complicated realm of Internet law. As some have put it, we’re still in the early-days; “the Wild West” of the computer age. Not untrue, as the World-Wide Web as a communication and entertainment tool is barely fifteen years in the making.

 

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