Internet marketing resources, ecommerce web site design tutorials and  just for fun - free cell phone ringtones!
  Taming the Beast - quality web marketing and ecommerce development services

Search engines and user data

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Thursday September 7, 2006 )

Is it just a matter of time before the search engines are feeding data to our own governments as soon as they snap their bureaucratic fingers? I most certainly wouldn’t trust the government with that sort of access any more than I’d trust the guy in the alley selling Rolexes.

Government aside, should the search engine companies even be permitted to retaining records for the duration they are? While I may think that Larry and Sergey (Google founders) are fairly trustworthy sorts of characters who really have no interest in our personal movements through the web; can the same be said of all Google’s staff who have access to these records? Or for that matter Yahoo? MSN?

What are your thoughts?

Dammit, where did I put my tinfoil hat…

-->

I’m really in two minds about search engines handing over data to governments. On the one hand, there’s the issue of tracking down the perpetrators of heinous crimes; something that I’m all for. On the other, there’s the misuse of that information by those in power.

Added to that, what if that information that was handed over somehow wound up in the wrong hands outside of government?

What about the duration that search engines hang onto sensitive user data; such as search histories; some of the companies claim to *never* delete it. So, if you’ve been accessing the web via a static IP for the last couple of years and you’re a heavy web user; imagine the profile that’s been built up on you. That’s probably one of the most frightening aspects. There’s certainly precedent of that data escaping out into the wild. It happened just recently – the AOL search data faux pas.

All these issues have been brought to the forefront again by the news of Google handing over data to the Brazilian government in connection with criminal investigations. It’s reported that even though Google had argued the information that Brazil wanted was stored on USA servers, the government had threatened the company with fines of US$23k *per day* for not complying with the order. When in Rome and all that jazz..

Even if you live in a country where freedom of speech and privacy are fiercely protected under legislation, we live in a rapidly changing world since 9/11 – our rights to privacy are steadily eroding.

Is it just a matter of time before the search engines are feeding data to our own governments as soon as they snap their bureaucratic fingers? I most certainly wouldn’t trust the government with that sort of access any more than I’d trust the guy in the alley selling Rolexes.

Government aside, should the search engine companies even be permitted to retaining records for the duration they are? While I may think that Larry and Sergey (Google founders) are fairly trustworthy sorts of characters who really have no interest in our personal movements through the web; can the same be said of all Google’s staff who have access to these records? Or for that matter Yahoo? MSN?

What are your thoughts?

Dammit, where did I put my tinfoil hat…



 

 
Comments for Search engines and user data

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.