October 6, 2006

i'm a bit worried about this google thing

Update 2006-10-14: Looks like this post resonated with a lot of folks. Thanks Lifehacker, you guys sure do drive a lot of traffic ;-) Thanks also to Tom at HawkWings, Jamais and the many others who linked here. And many thanks to all the commenters, especially those who disagreed here and elsewhere. I've continued the discussion in the post "I want my Google Data Privacy."

Update 2006-10-15: This is worth a read: Lauren Weinstein's Open Letter to Google: Concepts for a Google Privacy Initiative from May 2006. Wonder if he has had a response?


I'm feeling increasingly uneasy about my dependence on Google services. I just moved to the new Google Reader because it blows away every other feedreader I've used. I've been a sharpreader fan for a long time, because it was simple, easy and clean, and those attributes outweighed even the huge inconvenience of having multiple unsynchronized opml lists on my various machines. Well now I'm on reader 2.0 and loving it.

So I look around my desktop and I see Google Reader, Google Mail, Google Talk, Google Toolbar, Google Maps, Google Calendar, Google News, Google Analytics, Google Earth, and of course Google Google. Google WiFi was a pleasant surprise when I was in Mt View a few weeks ago, and last night I found pizza (Goat Hill Pizza SoMA, yummy) for the geowanking gig using mobile Google on my phone. All of these things are becoming indispensable tools for me, and I really like using them because they work well and play well, and every few weeks they magically get better.

And hey, isn't it nice to have a single sign-in across all those apps? Oh wait, oops, it's almost like vendor lock-in, but with the added benefit of having my personal correspondence, my friends, family and contacts, my reading lists, my schedule, my location, and my search history all stored under one roof for easy data mining and subpoena! How, er, convenient.

I think I need a new Google product to drop into beta. That would be, let's see, Google Data Privacy. GDP would allow me to review all of the information that Google retains on me across all services, from all devices, and from all sources. GDP would allow me to determine the maximum data retention period for each of my services. GDP would allow me to selectively opt out of cross-service data mining & correlation, even if it reduced the quality of the services I receive. GDP would allow me to correct any inaccurate data in my profile. And GDP would log and alert me when my data was queried by other services.

I want my Google Data Privacy.

Posted by Gene at October 6, 2006 4:00 PM | TrackBack

i want my G*D*P* toooooooooo

hi fred, you damm right on the retaining of data issue.
your idea is great i am sure the gloogleheads can afford to pay you
some $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
to develop that idea. if they dont want to do it. here in germany they will love that ideia. the laws here are much more restric on personal data anything, and you have a good chace because you are doing it, already in your blog not just talking about.
cheerious and keep rolling

Posted by: saul judd at October 8, 2006 5:52 AM

This is not just brilliant, it's nigh on necessary. I want to sign the petition. Where is it?

Posted by: Woody at October 13, 2006 6:56 AM

You've been slashdotted! This is good stuff, we should do a product request on Google, let them know that this is a big deal!

Posted by: Nick at October 13, 2006 7:13 AM

I can't say I 'rely on them' for anything, although their search obviously is paramount, but I'm all for signing!

Posted by: BillyG at October 13, 2006 7:31 AM

On top of what I said over at Lifehacker (http://www.lifehacker.com/software/google/open-petition-google-data-privacy-manager-207309.php#c511400), here is another thought: if you don't like them having your data, don't use their FREE services. No one is forcing you.

Posted by: Thomas Mango at October 13, 2006 7:37 AM

I'm So enthusuastic about the idea of GDP and cant wait to sign the petition, but i cant find it lol.
if you were to have a formal petition which would be sent to Google i would be more than happy to sign it and know of too many students who more than willing.. so please email me with more information. thanks
Kish (kishanpatel50@gmail.com)

Posted by: kishan at October 13, 2006 7:56 AM

Hey everyone, thanks for the comments. I'm not much of a believer in net petitions, but I think Lifehacker's taking a poll or something.

Thomas, you're right, Google is free and nobody is forcing me to use their stuff. I'm not complaining about them, I'm simply thinking about the implications of all of my data being in one company's hands. You heard about the AOL search data spill in August, right? And you know there are strict data privacy laws in the European community? And credit scoring agencies like TRW, Experian etc have (government imposed) policies on consumers' access to data about them. All I am saying is, wouldn't it be great if GOOG took the high road and gave its users the ability to manage the data it holds about them? Actually, I predict that if they don't do it, governments will try to do it for them.

Posted by: Gene at October 13, 2006 8:45 AM

This is an awesome idea. I will sign the petition.

Posted by: Joe at October 13, 2006 9:04 AM

What I did:

Added a GMail acct via invite from an acct I've used for a while. From the same IP, sigh, I know I could have taken more steps- I am that paranoid but also lazy.

Deleted all my Google/GMail cookies

Began using new acct. It has no specific info about me personally; but I am at the same IP addr I was at before.. shoulda reset the cable modem. aside from the searches I'll have in the future It's a seperate identity, it could be a NAT to a college campus for all they know.

If I was using Firefox, there's a plugin for it that will randomize/anonymize certain google cookies or something. I wonder if I can get Opera to do that.

I am paranoid about Google because they have so many multi market databases, if they didn't have 100% perfect compartmentalized security - someone with the right datamining skills could cause havok for a lot of private citizens.

I use a lot of their services.

The threat is real....

Posted by: underground at October 13, 2006 9:05 AM

I totally agreed! It’s absolutely necessary to CONTROL our own information in services like Google, Yahoo or Microsoft. Concerning to privacy, services like GMAIL should also have log analysis (“last visit, ip address and others). Users would also appreciate to have an open-format that allows us to export all our INBOX (received and sent messages).

Posted by: Googlaxy at October 13, 2006 9:11 AM

Yes please, let us know when there's an actual formal petition (the lifehacker site doesn't let anyone post). Thanks!

Posted by: twirl2 at October 13, 2006 9:16 AM

I'm a google evangelist and I want my GDP too, someone email if anyone starts a petition for this.

Posted by: Ben at October 13, 2006 10:11 AM

Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes. This is a brilliant, timely, RIGHT idea.

Posted by: quixote at October 13, 2006 11:15 AM

How do u guys imagine google pays the programmers who develop these apps you love so much ?

Posted by: Jason at October 13, 2006 11:54 AM

This is a great idea. I use a Forefox plug-in called "Customize Google" that supposedly blocks Google from getting my personal information on searches, etc. but I don't know whether it really works.

Posted by: Vivek at October 13, 2006 12:17 PM

make a video and put it on yooooootooooooob

Posted by: flemrdafxdsfwd at October 13, 2006 1:21 PM

Kudos to you, the idea is great! I want GDP too!

Vivek, I use it too, but I'd be a little less worried if I had a GooglePlex-built solution.

Again, excellent idea Gene!

Posted by: Rodrigo at October 13, 2006 5:13 PM

Yep. I agree.

Posted by: rebecca at October 13, 2006 8:20 PM

Gimmie GDP

Posted by: Addi at October 14, 2006 6:15 AM

OK, for those of you that wanted a petition, Eric Krout has made one.

Posted by: Gene at October 14, 2006 9:51 AM

It's been submitted to digg as well, http://digg.com/security/Google_Privacy_Petition_an_actual_one_this_time

Posted by: Ben at October 14, 2006 11:51 AM

Pardalis, Inc. has patented methods for the kind of data ownership that this string of conversation relates to, and has developed a hosted web-service for information producers to control (or license) their data even after access has been shared with another.

I would welcome comments or questions. More information is at www.pardalis.com. My direct e-mail is steve@pardalis.com. Please reference ‘Data Ownership’.

Posted by: Steve Holcombe at November 20, 2006 10:05 AM

Google announced a change of their privacy policy.

Posted by: Konrad Förstner at March 15, 2007 1:02 AM

Thank You

Posted by: Mark at April 18, 2007 1:37 AM
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