[FoRK] Google

rst at ai.mit.edu rst at ai.mit.edu
Fri Feb 11 09:42:21 PST 2005


Lucas Gonze writes:

 > > P.S. Maybe I just hate the Google hype, of which there is much.
 > 
 > The creepy all-seeing eye is what gets me.  They can surely use my 
 > verification email for gmail to cross-ref me to google groups, my blog, 
 > and eventually all the way back to my ftp traces from the 80s.  It hurts 
 > to think about.

I never understood why the privace fuss over gmail centered on their
target ads.  Use of tracking cookies across multiple Google services
is a lot more worrisome.

Playing with gmail without getting tracked is tricky at best -- last
I checked, it just didn't work unless you took a search-tracking
cookie as well.  You could try to deal with that by setting up a
browser profile with its own cookie jar, and using it for gmail and
nothing else.  But I think you'd still need a securely pseudonymous
throwaway email address to set up the gmail account.  And the lack of
searches on that cookie would let them know, at least, that they're
dealing with a privacy freak.

FWIW, I'm really not sure what level of paranoia to adopt wrt Google.
"Don't be evil" is a nice slogan, though "evil" is to some extent in
the eye of the beholder.  They don't seem too upset to put a few more
bricks in the Great Firewall of China, for instance:

   http://news.zdnet.co.uk/internet/security/0,39020375,39167942,00.htm

But that makes them no different from a lot other American companies,
like Yahoo and Cisco, which have also been happy to cooperate, in
their own ways.  It's hard to make a case for Google as being uniquely
evil or dangerous based so far on public misdeeds.

But here, for what it's worth, is the most paranoid case I can easily
concot.  Suppose you were genuinely, unabashedly evil.  And suppose
you wanted to accumulate as much information as you could.  (If people
give you the information for free, so much the better).  And suppose
you wanted to get a lot of very smart people to make it easy to search
and access that information for your nefarious purposes.  (They, of
course, wouldn't need to know what they are ultimately working on).
You'd want access to everything at Google.  But you wouldn't
necessarily want to be up front and center promoting it in public.
Better by far to let some genuine idealists be the public face --
while your agents quietly hang out inside, subverting the place.

rst




More information about the FoRK mailing list