Google Protects What’s Left Of Your Privacy

    April 26, 2007

There has been plenty of discussion lately on Google and their privacy policy. In a recent blog post Matt Cutts expressed his personal opinion on the issue.

He raised the point that Google now makes users queries anonymous after 18 to 24 months, something he says that few other search engines have addressed. He also noted that when users sign up for a Google account that they don’t have to provide as much personal information as other search engines require.

More importantly Cutts points to what he believes are even larger threats to users privacy. He writes,"Another point is that your ISP has a superset of data that Google has, because everything you do passes through your ISP. So your ISP may have much more detailed records about places where you go on the net, plus they have a verified identity with something like a credit card, and they actually know which IPs you’re on."

"With Google if you clear cookies and turn off your cable modem for a minute or two, you’ll usually get a completely new IP address. Google would have no idea that it’s the same person, but your ISP would still know."

Tim O’Reilly has also weighed in with his opinion on the Google privacy issue pointing out that basic things we do in everyday life are more of a privacy threat than what we do online. "Our credit card company knows everything we buy — and sells that information to marketers; our phone company knows everyone we call — and sells that information to marketers; our supermarket knows what we buy and how often — and sells that information to marketers."

He goes on to argue that the information Google collects is used to create better services for its users, while other companies collect data only for their own benefit. He sums the issue up by writing,"We are moving into a future where what we do, where we go, what we spend, what we pay attention to, will be mined constantly and by everyone.

"Would we rather have this done in an invisible back office, where we can pretend it isn’t happening? Or would we rather that those people collecting this kind of data build useful services with it, like Google is doing?"