Google Web History: Useful Tool or Big Brother Attack on Privacy?

20 04 2007

The folks over at bizsolutionsplus have something to say about the new service Web History and not much of it is good.  The title of the post itself invokes some fear.

The BSP blog has this to say in the post: Beware! You’re Being Googled

Although the service is password protected for subscribers only, does anyone believe that the Government won’t crack into this service, and that while they may be looking for bad guys, governments, including ours, don’t have a good track record when it comes to playing by the rules. And how about those hackers who will come up with ways not only to get this information, but to use it in ways that can’t be good?

According to Google though, this is just a great new tool so that you can keep track of yourself and do all sorts of fun things like track your own use of the web etc etc blah blah its great whatever.  However, even the cNet Tech New Blog is a bit apprehensive about this new Google feature in their post titled “Your Web history, courtesy of Google“:

Google’s announced acquisition of DoubleClick has raised considerable concern among privacy advocates, who argue that combining the search engine giant with a major online advertising firm puts too much information in the hands of one company. The launch of Google’s new Web History product should send those fears into overdrive.

So far all I see is speculation and no real action on how to exploit this new feature.  I dunno if the gov’t would really force its way into your online life, especially if you are a good little user, but in this administration anything’s possible.  I mean this blog has been scanned by the not so super secret Echelon machines, but no action has been taken on their part.  I’m still posting!

As for hackers, you’d have to have someone’s logon info to be able to see the feature.  So, that leaves the good old Phishing pages, a la this post of mine, that collect your info and leave your account open to be poked and prodded for all kinds of info, including this new Web History feature.

Here’s what I think, its no more of a problem than the exploits and search logging that already exists.  My advice would be to NOT sign up for the feature, or sign up for it then immediately delete the service, and keep an eye out for phishing pages.  If you’re smarter than the average bear, this shouldn’t be a problem.  Also note, remember the big scare about search engines logging your searches and the information leeks on the server side about searches? There was some old lady that had all her info lost by Yahoo (I’ll have to look for the old story).  That threat to your privacy is still there, but there’s not too much you can do about that unless you want to do a bit of work or pay for a proxy service.

If you are really worried about your privacy then you may want to check out the free services offered by TOR or JAP, although both those services are having some problems.

For now, remain calm and don’t use static IP’s or don’t bother doing anything at all cause if someone really REALLY wants your ass there is always a way to get your ass.  Sorry, but its a simple net fact.  Every time you put something out there on the net, it gets cached by Google or some other net company, and once its on the net its somewhere waiting to be found forever.

But never fear, there are ways to keep a modicum of anonimity on the net.  I’ll post an article about how to maintain anonymity on the net soon so you can be all stealthy and kewl.

Last but not least, just don’t do anything stupid, aka illegal or just plain careless, and you should be fine…ish 😉




One response

21 04 2007
Lewis Green

Good post and thank you for sharing another side of the picture.

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