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Doug's Mailbag: Google's Ominous Eye

Looks like readers didn't like the news of Google's enhanced snooping policy. Here's some responses:

I agree that this is an invasion of privacy. While I am concerned with Google having this information, my main concern is more about how well will they be able to protect the information that they collect. Google should be held financially accountable for any Personally Identifiable Information that they allow to be compromised. I guess it's time for me to start using a different search engine.

Well, one has to remember Google has never been free and does come at a price (your info). As Lifehacker stated "If You’re Not Paying for It; You’re the Product". It still creeps me out though and I feel I should have an option to opt out of some things. Maybe if Google offered an ad-free paid subscription for it's services, then maybe one could Opt Out.

It's a violation of my privacy - always has been and always will be. Kind of like the tracking cookies you are using on this site.

Total violation of privacy and, like JC, I'm more worried about the government or other third parties (legit or hacked) getting access to the data. Best to not put all your eggs in one basket. Use YouTube, Bing, Yahoo email and get a Blackberry phone. That way, nobody can put all of your info into one file.

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Posted on 02/01/2012 at 1:19 PM

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Feb 9, 2012

To Den: Yes, this new version *is* radically different. The networks have no way of knowing what *you* watch unless you tell them directly. If you're a Neilsen household or fill out a diary there's *some* tracking done but *nothing* like that done via websites and cookies, tracking bugs, etc. If you've not done so, install Firefox, Adblock Plus, and NoScript. You'll be *amazed* at the number of different entities tracking your every click. You might also be astounded at all the offsite scripts that run on sites. Some to "enhance" or provide functionality but many to track your movements. Yes, I'm somewhat paranoid in that respect and only allow what is absolutely necessary for my current activity on any given site. google-analytics runs almost everywhere. It exists solely to track your movements. Google has shown time and time again that it has zero respect for the opinions and/or desires of people who use its "products" by arrogantly pushing undesired changes to systems that once worked quickly. Based on their history, why would I believe they'll use my private data responsibly? Frankly, they're not much different than Zuckerburg about not respecting privacy. They just don't flaunt that fact.

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 Corey Portland

I think the naysaysers are paranoid and naive at the same time. Simple solution: read your email in one browser, do everything else in the other one where you never log in. Google has been doing this for a while now, and if you didn't notice you weren't paying attention. This just puts mushes it all into one document. It's the price of admission to use their products, and everyone else is doing the best they can to copy it. Do you think Microsoft isn't trying to gather as much information as possible via Bing and Hotmail? That Yahoo doesn't watch what you search for when you're logged in to read your email? That Facebook doesn't tailor the ads to what you click on? Of course they do. So what's the panic? I've drunk the Kool-Aide and accepted this reality. I do worry about Google (or any of them) keeping the information in a way that annonymizes it if they are hacked or asked to give up records by the government, but beyond that, they're welcome to my demographic information. I've never bought anything from a sponsored link. Ever.

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 Den Kansas City, MO

I think it's delusional to believe that using different internet services will keep personal information segregated and siloed, preventing aggregation of that same info. From what I've read, the analytical capability of marketers - the main beneficiaries of all the information we scattergun across the internet - to collate disparate data and develop personal profiles is quite prodigious. This is the world we live in - we aren't users, so much as voluntary eyeballs and wallets served advertising as the cost of our ability to access useful services. Kind of like network TV, when you get right down to it. We've been fine with that model for decades; is this new version so radically different?

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