Google CEO privacy quote

From Slashdot Technology Story | Google Buzz — First Reactions

Re:Public vs private (Score:3, Interesting)

by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 10, @01:56AM (#31082668)
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you’ve still shared it with someone who believes that you have no right to privacy, and that if – as their CEO puts it – you don’t want someone to know about you doing something, don’t do it.

In fairness, he didn’t say you had no right to privacy, and the quote is often taken out of context. It was in the context of saying:

If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines – including Google – do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.

So he’s not saying, “screw you, I don’t value your privacy.” He’s giving a warning that your information is probably not as private as you’d hope regardless of what service providers you’re using. Microsoft also keeps records of searches for some amount of time (I believe it’s at least 6 months) and they *will* turn that information over to the government. You know what? Your ISP has records of your web surfing, and will probably turn it over to the government if asked. Assuming you don’t host your own email, there are employees at your email service provider who can read your email. These are things you should know.

His advice may be a little flippant, but it’s not bad. If there’s something that you would be totally ashamed if people found out you were doing it, then you should probably at least consider not doing it. That’s true regardless of whether that “something” takes place on the Internet. Of course, the Internet, as it exists today, isn’t any good at securing privacy. Most people don’t encrypt their email, which means even if you want to, you can’t. Websites keep track of which IP requests come from and your ISP keeps records of your IP. Unless you’re rerouting encrypted traffic through proxies, you have TONS of information out in the open. It would be irresponsible of Google to claim that they can ensure your privacy.

So I’d put it this way: If you absolutely cannot afford to let anyone know that you’ve done certain things online, then you should either be taking strong enough measures to secure your own privacy that Google couldn’t track you if they wanted to, or else you should just not be involved in those activities. Otherwise, you’re just taking your chances.

I’d say the much more valid grounds for concern with Google is that, with all the services they offer, it’s such one-stop-shopping for anyone looking to invade your privacy.

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