Google and Privacy

Here is a nice post from Google about their new policy to anonymize search info from users. Like many I have been critical in the past of Google and others for storing this information with little regard to who owns it or saying what they’ll be doing with it.     Yahoo and MSN do not (yet) have similar policies so I think Google can rightly claim a higher road since they have also been the one who has fought Government attempts to nab search data.   (I have mixed feelings about that since, unlike folks like Battelle, I fear commercial abuses  more than I fear the Government will use my data in illegal and harmful ways.

4 thoughts on “Google and Privacy

  1. I believe the release of the aol search histories had identifying data stripped but the content clearly indicated the identity of several such so-called anonymous searchers.

    Commercial abuse can take a form of “associative linking” wherein it is recognized that the links between various datasets is not necessarily robust and precise but is ‘workable’. Medical records are often linked to social security numbers and to patient names despite a patient often failing to recall the numbers precisely or often changing their names via marriage or common usage. We often allow medical conclusions to be based on such less than precise linkages. Commercial exploitation of such ‘anonymous’ data is likely to be profitable in a variety of settings. Perhaps the solution is to ‘salt’ ones search statements with the names of one’s own enemies? Or let someone who drinks neither coffee nor tea put in a good many caffeine related searches so as to defeat the profitability of any commercial exploitation?

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