Investigations into Google Privacy

January 24, 2007

Topics: Google, Privacy.

Google Privacy is not a fancy new Google service. (Nice idea – personalized privacy management of your Google Account – I like it.) Nonetheless, doesn’t exist. The privacy of your information at Google is the subject of an investigation by the Norwegian Data inspectorate, along with privacy concerns at several other Norwegian search engines. This organization is attempting to answer a few specific questions, according to Pandia.com:

Well…maybe specific isn’t quite the right word, actually. The quote from the Pandia article, by Senior Engineer Atle Arnes of the Inspectorate, asks:

“Why do the search engine store the IP addresses [of searchers] for so long and are they using them for?”

This is actually a pretty wide-reaching query – I’d certainly be very curious to see the answer to the second part of the question. Somehow, however, I suspect that Google’s answers won’t be leaked very far out into the public unless they obfuscate any interesting part of the answer. Of course, it’s entirely possible that what Google does with the information they collect is nothing, but I think few people would believe that.

Privacy is a chronic concern in the Internet age. There’s no question that the information available to search engines can easily identify a person associated with their queries, even without any IP address or other uniquely identifying information. What the holder’s of this information will do with it is a curious question.

In theory, Google employees could know my calendar, my bank information, have access to my email, my search history, have indexed my hard drive, and know what websites I’m affiliated with and have webmaster privileges for. That’s a LOT of information.

What does Google know about you?

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