Is Google too powerful?

  • #1
gravenewworld
1,127
26
Should it be broken up?

GMail
Search Engine
Web browser
Soon to be operating system


Should 1 company control this much information?

No one really knows if google sends information on users to the US government. Google tracks your IP address, browser information, and date/time for everything you search for. Google also sets a tracking cookie on your computer that doesn't expire until 2038.

Google has a profile on you that has been built up over the years and probably knows every single illness that you have had that you have looked info on, what kind of car you drive, and where you went to school.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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How about this: No storage of personal IP addresses.

Isn't this really just a privacy issue? Why would breaking things up change that?

Also, I replace my computer about every three years. What good does the 2038 cookie do? Isn't the information lost when I change computers?
 
  • #3
gravenewworld
1,127
26
How about this: No storage of personal IP addresses.

Isn't this really just a privacy issue? Why would breaking things up change that?

No one knows how google ranks websites when a user does a search. If google doesn't like you or your website it can drop you way down on the list. This can distort free market competition.
 
  • #4
Proton Soup
214
1
i think it's unlikely that google would send anything to the government. more likely is that they'd contract to allow government people access to search the database for things of interest.

'course, you know the brits are about to implement keeping a record of every place you go on the 'net.
 
  • #5
Ivan Seeking
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Okay, I see your concern about having control of information.

Isn't the privacy concern easily regulated? Couldn't we just make a law stating that personal web activity cannot be tracked? They could still establish a demographic without knowning the actual names of the users, couldn't they?
 
  • #6
Proton Soup
214
1
doesn't NSA already tap the backbone, anyway?
 
  • #7
Sorry!
419
0
why does it matter if google knows what you look for on the internet anyways?

you will never meet these people. your probably doing nothing illegal and if you are then its your fault and your problem anyways...

i don't feel any bit uncomfortable with google knowing what i do on the internet through them.
 
  • #8
edward
119
166
doesn't NSA already tap the backbone, anyway?

Big Time on NSA via ChoicePoint.

Private companies such as Entersect also sell data that they buy from many sources including ISP's. They sell the information primarily to local law enforcement agencies. The information is sold with the caveat that it is not necessarily accurate.

I have a nephew who worked for Entersect for about 9 months. He quit when he realized, and as he put it: "They are just making up crap about people." The most common computer added text was: "he/She is a member of a questionable online organization."

Now that most patrol cars are equipped with computers, statements like the one in bold above may mean the difference between a person getting a warning or a traffic citation.
 
  • #9
Sorry!
419
0
Big Time on NSA via ChoicePoint.

Private companies such as Entersect also sell data that they buy from many sources including ISP's. They sell the information primarily to local law enforcement agencies. The information is sold with the caveat that it is not necessarily accurate.

I have a nephew who worked for Entersect for about 9 months. He quit when he realized, and as he put it: "They are just making up crap about people." The most common computer added text was: "he/She is a member of a questionable online organization."

Now that most patrol cars are equipped with computers, statements like the one in bold above may mean the difference between a person getting a warning or a traffic citation.
This is true... but I don't think this is a problem of privacy...
 
  • #10
cristo
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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'course, you know the brits are about to implement keeping a record of every place you go on the 'net.

Surely the only reason you would be worried about this would be if you are making dodgy contacts via the internet.
 
  • #11
rootX
465
4
Should it be broken up?

GMail
Search Engine
Web browser
Soon to be operating system


Should 1 company control this much information?

Everything at one place is good. I don't want to use like 5 different sources.
Also, you would see more of
http://www.google.org/

Privacy: I don't care if government finds that I googled for porn on March 9,2008 at 3:05:30 AM. As far, google is not selling my private information to profit maximizing companies that can use the information against me, I am happy. I think privacy fears to extreme are irrational.

And, if someone's employer finds that he/she is bad mouthing about him on facebook/twitter then (s)he gets fired.. I don't see any problem in it. Or that this woman says she is sick to use computer but then goes home and uses facebook - employers find that out and fires her.
 
  • #12
Proton Soup
214
1
Surely the only reason you would be worried about this would be if you are making dodgy contacts via the internet.

you know what concerns me? television commercials recruiting 70-IQ mouthbreathers to pay thousands of dollars to become edumacated for an illustrious career in "surveillance". i wonder if they psych test to weed out voyeurs and stalkers, or perhaps to weed them in?

the whole internet is dodgy.
 
  • #13
humanino
2,490
8
Isn't there already a "Child Online Protection Act" where google was the only search engine to refuse to provide personal information to the Bush administration !?
In preparation for that trial, the Department of Justice issued subpoenas to various search engines to obtain Web addresses and records of searches as one part of a study undertaken by a witness in support of the law. The search engines turned over the requested information, except for Google, which challenged the subpoenas.

This being said, I have nothing to hide personally :tongue2:
 
  • #14
Flat
63
1
you will never meet these people. your probably doing nothing illegal and if you are then its your fault and your problem anyways...

Because it is open to interpretation. For example, what if you were trying to find some information about chemical reactions for chemistry class. To the person who is monitoring you, it could look like you are researching how to build a bomb, make drugs, etc.
 
  • #15
RonL
Gold Member
1,105
217
If one has been on the internet more than one or two years, they might be beyond protection of privacy.
As for porn, that gets old in a hurry(not much new or unusual) the biggest deterriant for me is the unlikely chance of seeing one of my kids, or grandkids doing something I could never erase from my mind :yuck:
 
  • #16
NeoDevin
332
2
you will never meet these people. your probably doing nothing illegal and if you are then its your fault and your problem anyways...

So the only people who have a need for privacy are criminals? Sorry Sorry!, that's just wrong. If (for example) the religious fundamentalists ever got enough power, I wouldn't want them to have easy access to the fact that I spend a lot of time on atheist websites (I'm sure the fundamentalists say the same thing about the militant atheists). That and the simple fact that it's no one's business what I do online but mine.

Consider this: Would you want a company to be able to put cameras through your house, and watch you while you eat/sleep/shower/have sex?

If I want to sit at home and watch porn, I should be able to do it in privacy. If I want to read about explosives for interests sake, that's nobody's business but mine. If I want to read about the effects of illegal drugs, again, my business.

Your argument is analogous to putting security cameras in every house, in order to catch parents who abuse their children, and saying that "If you don't abuse your children, you have nothing to hide!"
 
  • #17
JasonRox
Homework Helper
Gold Member
2,371
4
Whether you have something to hide or not, we should have privacy online.

Why not let the government walk in your house whenever they want? Same thing. Same idea.

Remember, the government works for us, not the other way around (well, in America it's different).
 
  • #18
Mk
2,037
4
Saying you have "nothing to hide" or "the only reason you would be worried about this would be if you are making dodgy contacts" is no argument against the preservation of your individual freedom.
 
  • #19
cristo
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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Saying you have "nothing to hide" or "the only reason you would be worried about this would be if you are making dodgy contacts" is no argument against the preservation of your individual freedom.

You don't have to use the internet! Anyway, it's not like internet traffic isn't already monitored, it's just most people choose to turn a blind eye to it.
 
  • #20
WhoWee
210
0
Should it be broken up?

GMail
Search Engine
Web browser
Soon to be operating system


Should 1 company control this much information?

No one really knows if google sends information on users to the US government. Google tracks your IP address, browser information, and date/time for everything you search for. Google also sets a tracking cookie on your computer that doesn't expire until 2038.

Google has a profile on you that has been built up over the years and probably knows every single illness that you have had that you have looked info on, what kind of car you drive, and where you went to school.

It's reasonable that 1 company should not "control this much informatio". However, the value of search information is debatable. How often do you search for something off the wall out of curiosity or to fact check something you heard?

Last week, one of my my kids was online with a friend playing a game... they each made up names and typed them into Google see if the neames are real words in another language. What is the value of this info?
 
  • #21
Mk
2,037
4
You don't have to use the internet! Anyway, it's not like internet traffic isn't already monitored, it's just most people choose to turn a blind eye to it.
Emails, instant messages, and webpages are mostly sent in cleartext. Anyone with a packet sniffer and a network connection can log nearly all of the data that you transfer in a day.

So, use the internet, just keep your connections encrypted.
 
  • #22
humanino
2,490
8
Saying you have "nothing to hide" or "the only reason you would be worried about this would be if you are making dodgy contacts" is no argument against the preservation of your individual freedom.
I have individual freedom because I can think by myself. I would still have individual freedom in a concentration camp. Really. Think about what is your freedom when you start bargaining about police not walking into your home. You may have lost your freedom long ago anyway.
 
  • #23
Sorry!
419
0
Just because people know what you've been doing online is by NO MEANS taking ANY of your freedom away... you can ALWAYS still do whatever you want whenever you want to. If you WANT to do illegal activites that's your choice and you are FREE to do that however their are consequences and if you get caught that's your own problem.

and that wasn't really what i was mainly talking about before. I'm sure google uses this information they collect but i would hardly believe that they go through EACH individual internet user and see who they are and what they have been doing. They probably have a method to take all the data and categorize it all. Even if they had categorized it based on your skin colour etc. They still will never meet you and you'll never have one of those awkward 'I've seen your internet history' moments with them.
So again, why does it TRULY matter... because you just FEEL that you should be able to do whatever you want without other people knowing? Why should your irrational feelings matter at all?


As for the 'security camera's in the house issue' how is that even comparable? This is YOUR house and its NOT YOUR internet or databases etc. etc. This is more comparable to the Library tracking what books you take out in order to better suggest other books. Or the Library putting camera's to catch vandals (at the same time they watch you but WHO CARES?) This is NOTHING like the government coming INTO your house uninvited and just doing whatever, it's far from. and if you feel that it IS comparable to that then just don't go on the sites... then you will never invite them 'into' your house.
but even in the library case its much different because they know you and see you in person. So it might feel awkward sometime if someone were to be like 'we have these new sex position books I've noticed that you take interest in this topic would you like to see them' you would be like "OMG" but if that happened over the internet you could just make it go away. For instance SPAM mail.

HAVE IT BE KNOWN, I however DO NOT agree with say google SELLING this information to the Police when all the information they have gathered is INFERRED. Like you guys said about building the bombs, even though i highly doubt that the police will be knocking at my door tomorrow (cause i was actually just on a site about that to see something my friend talked about) I would be pretty pissed off if it did happen.
There are online activites where it is KNOWN to be illegal. For instance downloading child pornography... were you just 'interested' in the 5 GB's you downloaded of movies and images? I highly doubt that would fly... or Pirating software/movies etc. You do it often enough I am certain something will eventually happen, if it's these huge companies that sell the information or the police doing their own investigation i have no idea. But i don't think these illegal activities rely on inferrence at all.
 
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  • #24
Just because people know what you've been doing online is by NO MEANS taking ANY of your freedom away... you can ALWAYS still do whatever you want whenever you want to. If you WANT to do illegal activites that's your choice and you are FREE to do that however their are consequences and if you get caught that's your own problem.

and that wasn't really what i was mainly talking about before. I'm sure google uses this information they collect but i would hardly believe that they go through EACH individual internet user and see who they are and what they have been doing. They probably have a method to take all the data and categorize it all. Even if they had categorized it based on your skin colour etc. They still will never meet you and you'll never have one of those awkward 'I've seen your internet history' moments with them.
So again, why does it TRULY matter... because you just FEEL that you should be able to do whatever you want without other people knowing? Why should your irrational feelings matter at all?


As for the 'security camera's in the house issue' how is that even comparable? This is YOUR house and its NOT YOUR internet or databases etc. etc. This is more comparable to the Library tracking what books you take out in order to better suggest other books. Or the Library putting camera's to catch vandals (at the same time they watch you but WHO CARES?) This is NOTHING like the government coming INTO your house uninvited and just doing whatever, it's far from. and if you feel that it IS comparable to that then just don't go on the sites... then you will never invite them 'into' your house.
but even in the library case its much different because they know you and see you in person. So it might feel awkward sometime if someone were to be like 'we have these new sex position books I've noticed that you take interest in this topic would you like to see them' you would be like "OMG" but if that happened over the internet you could just make it go away. For instance SPAM mail.

HAVE IT BE KNOWN, I however DO NOT agree with say google SELLING this information to the Police when all the information they have gathered is INFERRED. Like you guys said about building the bombs, even though i highly doubt that the police will be knocking at my door tomorrow (cause i was actually just on a site about that to see something my friend talked about) I would be pretty pissed off if it did happen.
There are online activites where it is KNOWN to be illegal. For instance downloading child pornography... were you just 'interested' in the 5 GB's you downloaded of movies and images? I highly doubt that would fly... or Pirating software/movies etc. You do it often enough I am certain something will eventually happen, if it's these huge companies that sell the information or the police doing their own investigation i have no idea. But i don't think these illegal activities rely on inferrence at all.


I'm guessing you missed the Patriot Act, H.R. 2159 or the DHS reports on domestic terrorism. With those three and unfettered access to all internet activity its only a matter of time before a coup takes place. If you really think that's tin foil hat material, re-read that DHS report, anyone that believes in the 9th and 10th amendments are potential domestic terrorist according to the DHS, toss in the Patriot Act and its a short trip to indefinate detainment with 0 constitutionally protected rights. Or, with H.R. 2159 the AG can determine you shouldn't own firearms an the mere suspicion of terroristic thought, no proof mind you, no due process, just the AG's suspicion. So stick with only PF (probably skip the nuclear and chemical engineering forums just to be safe though), DNC, Acorn, .gov and such sites and you should be safe...much easier in than reigning in the Fed.
 
  • #25
Proton Soup
214
1
hey Sorry!, watch this and then decide if you want the police sifting through your internet history and making decisions about whether to go after you.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4097602514885833865 [Broken]
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #26
Sorry!
419
0
I guess you guys missed the point where i said that I don't agree with these companies selling the information they have gained to the police based on inferrence. As well I'm Canadian if that makes any difference. Even if the American Government found out i went onto bomb making sites then what are they going to do. Extraordinary Rendition me? They can have fun. In all these cases its the American Government in the wrong never google.
 
  • #27
chroot
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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NO MEANS ANY ALWAYS WANT FREE EACH TRULY FEEL YOUR NOT YOUR WHO CARES NOTHING INTO SPAM HAVE IT BE KNOWN DO NOT SELLING INFERRED KNOWN

Capital letters do not transform opinions into facts.

- Warren
 
  • #28
cristo
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
8,140
74
Just because people know what you've been doing online is by NO MEANS taking ANY of your freedom away...

I think you're arguing a dead-ended point. The majority of Americans are never going to agree with this point of view!
 
  • #29
JasonRox
Homework Helper
Gold Member
2,371
4
I think you're arguing a dead-ended point. The majority of Americans are never going to agree with this point of view!

Sorry, but I don't agree with it.
 
  • #30
Sorry!
419
0
I think you're arguing a dead-ended point. The majority of Americans are never going to agree with this point of view!
Well regardless of who believes doesn't mean that it's wrong. A majority of American's are christian should i follow that as well?
 
  • #31
gravenewworld
1,127
26
Just because people know what you've been doing online is by NO MEANS taking ANY of your freedom away... you can ALWAYS still do whatever you want whenever you want to. If you WANT to do illegal activites that's your choice and you are FREE to do that however their are consequences and if you get caught that's your own problem.

and that wasn't really what i was mainly talking about before. I'm sure google uses this information they collect but i would hardly believe that they go through EACH individual internet user and see who they are and what they have been doing. They probably have a method to take all the data and categorize it all. Even if they had categorized it based on your skin colour etc. They still will never meet you and you'll never have one of those awkward 'I've seen your internet history' moments with them.
So again, why does it TRULY matter... because you just FEEL that you should be able to do whatever you want without other people knowing? Why should your irrational feelings matter at all?


As for the 'security camera's in the house issue' how is that even comparable? This is YOUR house and its NOT YOUR internet or databases etc. etc. This is more comparable to the Library tracking what books you take out in order to better suggest other books. Or the Library putting camera's to catch vandals (at the same time they watch you but WHO CARES?) This is NOTHING like the government coming INTO your house uninvited and just doing whatever, it's far from. and if you feel that it IS comparable to that then just don't go on the sites... then you will never invite them 'into' your house.
but even in the library case its much different because they know you and see you in person. So it might feel awkward sometime if someone were to be like 'we have these new sex position books I've noticed that you take interest in this topic would you like to see them' you would be like "OMG" but if that happened over the internet you could just make it go away. For instance SPAM mail.

HAVE IT BE KNOWN, I however DO NOT agree with say google SELLING this information to the Police when all the information they have gathered is INFERRED. Like you guys said about building the bombs, even though i highly doubt that the police will be knocking at my door tomorrow (cause i was actually just on a site about that to see something my friend talked about) I would be pretty pissed off if it did happen.
There are online activites where it is KNOWN to be illegal. For instance downloading child pornography... were you just 'interested' in the 5 GB's you downloaded of movies and images? I highly doubt that would fly... or Pirating software/movies etc. You do it often enough I am certain something will eventually happen, if it's these huge companies that sell the information or the police doing their own investigation i have no idea. But i don't think these illegal activities rely on inferrence at all.




And what happens when a competitor come along in the near future (which will inevitably happen) and starts eating into a large chunk of google's profits? What is to keep google from going into the information selling business to stay afloat? Nothing.


What if google decides one day to sell information to potential employers who are doing background and reference checks on people they are interviewing for a job ? They might see that you might have looked up chronic back pain treatments on google last year and not offer you the job because 'you are too much of a risk/liability'. You have almost no rights to privacy when it comes to the internet.
 
  • #32
Sorry!
419
0
All I keep reading on here is that you're 'scared' that google will give this information to people who may or may not abuse it and your rights. How is this a) googles problem or fault? and b) even a big deal?

When I turn on the American news someone is sueing someone else every minute, why not just join the masses and when you don't get that job because google sold your information to a potential employer and they found out somehow... (who knows why they would assume anything based on you looking up chronic backpain??) that you have something wrong with you then sue them I am certain in this case there is a lot of money to be gained. I know even in Canada that there would be a lot of money to be gained if this ever occured. While we're talking about 'what ifs' instead of what's actually happening what if suddenly it was ok for employers to swipe my health card to get all that information on me and use it against me. Should i attack the Ontario Ministry of Health and shut down their database because my rights may some point in the future be infringed upon? Hell no.
 
  • #33
WhoWee
210
0
I'm more concerned about the government managing medical information and (possibly) deciding who should receive treatment (universal health).
 

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