Google and Privacy

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by Wordslinger29, May 20, 2010.

  1. Wordslinger29 macrumors member

    May 27, 2009
    With the absence of the iPhone on Verizon, I recently purchased a HTC Incredible. To get the most use out of the phone, I'm using Google to sync my calendar and contacts. I've flirted with the idea of making my gmail account my main email, but haven't pulled the trigger yet.

    I'm aware that Google uses bots to scan emails to target advertising, and I read about the wi-fi snooping in Germany. Neither of these concern me. I don't include sensitive info in my emails (account numbers, social security number, etc.), and if you leave your wi-fi open you're asking for trouble.

    Aside from the two I mentioned, what other privacy issues are there? What kind of data does Google collect?
  2. kresh macrumors 6502a


    Oh no it's the "She was asking for it" defense, the favorite defense of rapists everywhere.

    Google's collection of this data alone should be enough for a reasonable person to be suspicious of them imho.
  3. kdarling macrumors demi-god


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    Your location. Your search strings.

    Google search or location apps have a license that everyone agrees to, that allows them to anonymously collect everyone's search or mapping requests, and even display those geographically on Google internal maps in realtime. (So it's probably a bad idea for a whole neighborhood to suddenly start looking up bombmaking. Might set off automatic internal alarms.)

    The location and search collection is true on any smartphone that uses Google apps, including Google Maps on the iPhone.
  4. kresh macrumors 6502a


    There is a website dedicated to tracking Google's evil:

    It has not been updated in a while, seems no one cares. Free wins, privacy loses.
  5. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    Google and privacy no longer belong in the same sentence in my opinion. What they collect is one issue, what they "accidentally" collect is another.
  6. Wordslinger29 thread starter macrumors member

    May 27, 2009
    I'm not concerned with what they anonymously collect. They can have my location and searches as long as it isn't directly tied to my account. Now if they could pull up a file on me and say "on this date wordslinger29 searched for this topic at this computer at this address" then I'd be pissed. Right now I just use their services for syncing my contacts and calendar between my phone and Address Book and iCal. I'd like to move to Gmail to have an email address that is portable if I move to a different ISP.

    I don't trust any corporation, especially when it comes to privacy. Google seems to take the brunt of the criticism, but I think all of these companies keep data on us. All of our credit/debit card purchases are on record. Movies rented from Blockbuster or Netflix. Books checked out of the library. Verizon openly states they anonymously collect what I'm recording to my DVR for research purposes. I'm sure they know every movie people order from their On Demand service and could easily provide a record of all the numbers their customers called and received. Marketers have access to our credit reports, which contain plenty of sensitive info about us.

    I'm not trying to defend Google. Like most companies I don't trust them. I don't always trust Apple either. Google might be an evil company, but Apple certainly was in bed with them for a while. If it wasn't for Android Eric Schmidt would probably still be on Apple's board of directors. I just wonder in the grand scheme of things if what Google is doing is any worse than the rest of these companies who have access to our personal info. It's the trade off for living in a digital age with instant access to information.

    They say it was an accident, but who knows. If they were knowingly collecting that data then they should be held accountable. But anyone with a wi-fi network should have it protected. A woman in a miniskirt isn't asking to be raped, but she will attract attention, and it could be from the wrong kind of guy. If you don't secure your wi-fi, you should expect that at some point someone may stumble upon it and take advantage.
  7. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Actually they never belonged. Google has a long history of using customer's data for their own purposes.
  8. kresh macrumors 6502a


    Google says that they still have all of this data they have been collecting for years and want guidance to its destruction so they can be in compliance with privacy laws.

    So Google expects us to believe that no one knew about the collection, and these hard drives in the Google cars have been collecting for years without being moved to permanent storage and not a single engineer wondered why less and less storage was available on the hard drives over time.

    Or, Google would have us believe that the hard drives were being emptied, the data was being integrated, and no one saw this packet data. Of course no one saw it, but someone was storing it for years knowing it was not Street View data.

    I mean really, can anyone believe that Google did not know this data was being collected. Of course they can't.

    Germany objected to this data being collected after hearing a rumor about it. Google denied it. Germany said they wanted to look at the hard drives. Google responded that they wouldn't be able to understand it because it was encrypted and wouldn't mean anything to them. Germany persisted and was about to force Google to give them access. Google cries "Mea Culpa" but it was all an accident and we didn't know we were doing it.

    Google just did it thinking they were to big to be told no, just as they did with the "Book Grab". That is so much bovine manure! :mad:

    I have every expectation that I should be able to run my network, open, without Google sniffing my packets. Just as I have the expectation that I can leave my door unlocked and not to have the Google car driver coming into my house and watching tv on his break.

    So this woman in the mini skirt attracts the attention of the wrong sort because of how she is dressed? Your reasoning on this IS the classic "She was asking for it defense" and it does not hold water.
  9. Wordslinger29 thread starter macrumors member

    May 27, 2009
    Like I said, I'm not trying to defend Google. If they broke a law then they should be held accountable. I only used a woman as an example since you brought it up. The "she was asking for it defense" does apply to digital privacy to a certain extent. If you leave your network open and someone connects, then yes, it's your fault for not securing it, just as much as it's the person's fault for stealing your internet connection. We live in a time where people can and will steal our personal info.

    In a perfect world we could all leave our doors open and not worry about someone walking in to rob us. But this world is far from perfect.
  10. kresh macrumors 6502a


    We can agree to disagree then. Perfect world or not, there is a perpetrator and a victim.

    In your first post you said it didn't matter that Google collected the data because you protect your network. Does it not matter that they did this, or is it ok for them to do dodgy things so long as you're smart enough to defend against it.

    What if they are doing things we can't catch them at? I guess I am just not willing to give them a pass on it, and once you strip away their "Do no evil" mantra what are you left with? A corporation that is in the business of knowing everything about you so they can sell it to the highest bidder, AND no moral compass.
  11. Wordslinger29 thread starter macrumors member

    May 27, 2009
    I agree with you that Google most likely knew the data was there. Their "Do no evil" mantra is crap. They're a corporation looking to make money. Just like Apple. Just like Microsoft. I guess I see it as, our info is all over the place if someone wants it. Lots of companies collect data on us. I never received junk mail or telemarketing calls until I signed up for Verizon Fios. My conclusion is Verizon sold my info to a third party. When I financed a new car, within a month I was receiving offers in the mail to refinance or open pre-approved credit cards. Marketing firms are looking at our credit reports to target us with advertisements. I use Xbox Live on my Xbox 360. I'd imagine Microsoft is logging what games I play, when I play them, and for how long. In fact, I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that they do this.

    I'm won't go so far as to call Google a scapegoat, they're definitely at fault, but I wonder if they take the brunt of the criticism when other companies are doing the same thing. Look at Facebook right now. All I see are articles about privacy issues with them. I'm sure down the road there will be another huge company that will become popular and then everyone will find out they're getting screwed on privacy.

    I wonder if there's a way to truly protect our privacy in the digital age.
  12. kresh macrumors 6502a


    You may be right in that the genie is out of the bottle on privacy and it may be too late to put it back, but it sure would nice if an effort was made. The US Government seems to be turning a blind eye, but it is nice to see Germany at least making an effort.

    I think Google has brought a lot of this on themselves. Eric Schmidt's statement sent out shock waves. Google's attitude seems to be "Try and stop us". Bad news about Google has been percolating for years as they use the "It is easier to get forgiveness than permission" philosophy.

    I think what woke me up to Google's power was their demonstration in 2008 that they could predict the epicenters of the Flu outbreaks 2 weeks before the CDC could. What went unsaid was that in addition to predicting the outbreaks, they could identify infected individuals. That may sound great, it could help save lives. But is it wise to have a company with these types of capabilities with apparent self-regulation?

    The real problem as I see it is that most see it as not a problem. It is scary to me that people give this kind of power away for a few free trinkets.
  13. Wordslinger29 thread starter macrumors member

    May 27, 2009
    Regulation to protect our privacy would be great. But we live in a post-Patriot Act America, so I don't see it happening. The government is probably happy all these companies are collecting our data. It means it's available to them when they need it.

    I like the services Google offers, especially since I have an Android phone. Maybe I'm part of the problem, but I don't want to deny myself services in fear of losing some privacy, especially when other companies are already collecting data on me. I guess I have a hopeless attitude toward the situation. My personal data is out there anyway, so I might as well enjoy myself and use my phone to its full potential. If Google said they would destroy my data after a certain amount of time after closing my account, I'd be happy. It's the thought of having it indefinitely retained that bothers me.

    All of these companies are the same. Look at Apple. They're fighting with Google now, but not too long ago they were best friends. People hold Apple in high regard and act like they are the good guys, but did Apple care about Google's privacy issues when they made it the default search engine on the iPhone, or made Google Maps a default app?

    Not that I have anything against Apple. You'd have to kill me before I gave up OS X.
  14. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    So the questions is what one is more evil, Google or Facebook.
  15. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    google privacy sucks, you should stick to whatever email you have before too late. Doesn't Drod Inedible supports other type of emails?
  16. detz macrumors 65816

    Jun 29, 2007
    They use the information to make better products and target advertising towards you so instead of seeing crap that you're not interested in you see crap you are. Its not evil, it's business and any intelligent company online is doing the same thing.
  17. sysiphus macrumors 6502a


    May 7, 2006
    Google's always been quite transparent about how they run Gmail, right from when it was an invite-only semiprivate beta. (I remember being so psyched about getting an invite...). Buyer beware. For whatever you might dislike about Google (and they're hardly perfect), it's -usually- pretty easy to find out how private/not your info will be with them. Far less slimy than Facebook, in my opinion.

    Also: Drod Inedible? Er...what? Droid Incredible, maybe???
  18. Wordslinger29 thread starter macrumors member

    May 27, 2009
    I can use whatever email I want on the Incredible. My Verizon address is my main email. The Gmail account is just for the Android Marketplace and to sync my contacts with the phone.
  19. Starhorsepax macrumors member


    Jun 6, 2010
    Scary isn't it?

    I've got a gmail account, but I still find it scary. You want real scary check out Firefox's Better Privacy Plug in sometime. I had only had the macbook about 2 months when I ran this for those tracking cookies-not the regular browser ones you can delete yourself, but the long term stuff they don't tell you about (usually). It removed 200 the very first run. Even then, I notice some sneak into the 'protected' folders (the ones that'll ruin your place in an online game and such if you delete.) That's a lot of people tracking me in a very short time!
    I don't know of one of these things for Safari yet.

    Still, the important thing is google must have competition. Every business needs it, because it's the only thing to prevent that total monopoly-and then we all lose. They get sloppy because no one is going to hold them accountable. At least now one can switch search engines to one with a better record. Not that there are many.:(

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