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Google Achieves Microsoft-like Evil Status…

By Brian | February 14, 2006 | Share on Facebook

Google’s recent Desktop Search tool provides a feature that copies the search index across networked computers, so when you search on one machine, you can see documents stored on another. Sounds reasonably harmless, right?

Turns out the copy is done by temporarily uploading encrypted versions of the files to Google’s servers and then downloading them to the other machines. Google says it deletes the files roughly every 30 days. It also says the user has complete control over which files/folders are included in the search, and that it automatically filters out password protected files and secure web pages.

But none of that matters to the EFF, who is recommending that no one use the feature.

Why? Because Google might one day turn that data over to the federal government if it is subpoenaed during that 30-day window.

Isn’t this just amazing? Forget all the extra features they put in to protect the user. Forget the vanishingly small likelihood that a particular file is residing in a Google server’s temporary cache at the precise moment a subpoena is issued, and forget the relative usefulness of the tool itself (Remember, Google doesn’t build these tools to try and step through privacy minefields – they build them to be useful to their customers). The big news story from a couple of weeks ago has put Google in the bullseye with regard to privacy issues, and all because they refused to submit data after a government request.

Imagine what they’d be saying about the company if it had complied?!?

Topics: Political Rantings, Tech Talk | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Google Achieves Microsoft-like Evil Status…”

  1. Mike from Dubai says at May 18th, 2006 at 1:15 am :
    I don’t want to say it’s inevitable that the government will end up with unfettered access to all of our data, but that’s been the predominant trend, and the broad-based support for these policies seems to be in place. That makes me kinda sick. They can’t quarter soldiers in our houses any more, but they can put all sorts of wiretaps and soldiers AROUND our houses to make sure we behave…

  2. Brian says at May 21st, 2006 at 11:14 am :
    Mike from dubai:

    It’s not that I disagree with you per se (although we would probably clash on several of the details), it’s just that this new service from Google really has nothing to do with it.

    The intent here was to turn desktop searches into local network searches for those who use Google’s desktop product on a home network. I have no real use for the product myself, but I could see how the “work at home” types could, as could many small businesses. The temporary storage on Google’s servers strikes me as a necessary architectural step to avoid problems with the function that most users wouldn’t know how to solve if they ever cropped up.

    This is part of what I’ve referred to elsewhere on this blog as “News Cataloging,” where reporters link an insignificant story to a story that already “has legs,” which both increases readership/viewership on the new story, as well as reinforcing the staying power of the old story with another “example.” It’s self-serving for the media and deceiving (or at least confusing) for the public.


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