Posts Tagged ‘Privacy’

Google Collected Personal Data Sent Over Open WiFi Networks

May 15th, 2010

We already know that Google collects every bit of info it can about its users, and stores it for unknown uses.

Now it’s been revealed that for 3 years, Google has collected personal information from unknowing people. This data was collected during the Google Street View mapping process. Google claims the data collection happened due to an error in programing.

This admission is the result of regulators in Europe started asking Google some serious questions about Street View. The European Regulators wanted to know what data Google collects in the mapping process, and what it does with that data.

About two weeks ago Google posted a blog post and claimed that “Google does not collect or store payload data” – which is the actual information being transmitted by users over unprotected networks.

That was a lie. A more recent post admits to that lie and says: “…it’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) WiFi networks, even though we never used that data in any Google products.”

Now Google could be accused of intercepting private communications and violating wiretap laws in the United States. A legal shit-storm is bound to happen.

In the mean time,  remember: Trust No One, and password-protect your WiFi. You never know who might be looking through your data.

Google to Offer Buzz Privacy Reset

April 5th, 2010

There are many privacy issues surrounding Google Buzz, a service that has left a lot of Gmail users unhappy and exposed. The auto-follow feature, in particular, has raised concerns and objections – even up to the White House.

Now, in an effort to address at least some of the privacy issues, Google will offer a privacy settings reset to all Buzz users. Google Buzz users will need to confirm (or change) their Buzz settings. This will start rolling out tomorrow. In essence, every user will be prompted with a confirmation page the next time they click the Buzz tab.

This might be too little too late, as much private information was exposed without the consent of Buzz users. Personally, I have no intentions of using Google Buzz. I shut it off on the first day it was launched, and I see no reason to retry it.

Constantly Tweeting your Location? Your House Might get Robbed

February 19th, 2010

Foursquare users beware: the information you tweet regarding your location might be used to reveal when is your house empty – which makes it a great target for a burglary.

To prove a point, a threesome of Dutch fellows set up a Foursquare/Twitter mashup called PleaseRobMe. Here’s what they say about it on their site: “…The way in which people are stimulated to participate in sharing this information, is less awesome. Services like Foursquare allow you to fulfill some primeval urge to colonize the planet… The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home”.

The site, which took the developers only 4 hours to set up, shows tweets of Foursquare players, an online game which is based on a person’s location in the real world. By following the updates on the site, anyone can know when certain people are not in their homes, which might make for a break-in opportunity.

“Our intention is not, and never has been, to have people burglarized”, claim the developers of PleaseRobMe. What they want is to show everyone how we are letting our privacy to go down the toilet, without even noticing. Foursquare might be a fun game, but it seems universally stupid to tell the world where you are at any given moment. Someone, someday, might take advantage of it. Mind the information you transmit to the world.

Canada Reprimands Google on Privacy Issued with Buzz

February 17th, 2010

Google didn’t just piss off the entire net with Google Buzz, but also some government officials:

Canada’s privacy commissioner has chastised Google for not consulting with her before launching its Buzz social-networking service.

“We have seen a storm of protest and outrage over alleged privacy violations and my office also has questions about how Google Buzz has met the requirements of privacy law in Canada,” Jennifer Stoddart said in a statement Wednesday.

Read full article: Privacy watchdog rebukes Google for Buzz

Buzz Off, Google!

February 10th, 2010

It’s hard to understand Google’s hysteria when it comes to social media. True, Twitter gives Google a good fight when it comes to real-time search, and people spend more time on Facebook than on any other site. So what do they do on Google? They try to fight back. And it looks ludicrous.

Gmail is one of the net’s most useful services. It’s the best webmail around and it has tons of useful features. My Gmail tab on Firefox is always open. In fact, by far, it’s the site I spend most of my time on. And I am not the only one.

Some of us don’t want many distractions to interrupt our work. I mean, web games, Twitter and porn are distracting enough. But Google doesn’t seem to care. First was the annoying, blipping Google Talk, which you can only disconnect from, but not disable entirely, and now there’s Google Buzz.

Without asking for it, I got the Buzz icon in the left sidebar of my Gmail. The icon looks familiar… Wait a minute… Is that a Microsoft service? Ah, no. Just another Google annoyance. So, I click on the Buzz in order to disable it, and I am horified to see that I already have followers. Worst of all – these aren’t my friends. They are not even my online friends. They are a random bunch of people I once mailed or contacted, mostly in business-related matters. I sure don’t want THEM to follow me anywhere. I also don’t want to follow them, but it appears I am doing just that.

Where’s the Block?!

It seems that Google Buzz is a Twitter/Facebook wannabe – it encourages you to share thoughts, clips and links. Only here, for some reason, you can’t choose your friends that easily. For example, if you access the list of your followers, you only get an option to follow them back. You can’t block them or prevent them from following you. At least, not that easily. In order to block a person on Google Buzz, you need to click on their icon and block them from there. I hope you don’t have too many followers at this point.

Where’s the Privacy?

If you are concerned about your privacy, Google Buzz is definitely not for you. The message that appears on the Buzz’s main page is: “Your Google Reader shared items, Picasa Web public albums, and Google Chat status messages will automatically appear as posts in Buzz”. This is the default, unless you change it.

Also, activity on the sites listed on your Google Webmaster account will also be made public, unless you prevent Google Buzz from spreading around your every move.

Best Feature of Google Buzz?

Clearly, Google Buzz is a noise-making, privacy-damaging, redundant service. If you have Twitter, Facebook or both, you really don’t need the Buzz. I don’t even want to THINK what this does to the well-known Gmail-Firefox memory leak.

The best feature on Google Buzz is clearly the option to disable it entirely. This option hides as a little, tiny link on the bottom of your Gmail screen.

Google, do us all a favor. Stick to worthwhile services, like Gmail, RSS Readers and, um,  that little thing called “Search Engine”. When I want a bunch of strangers to follow me around, I’ll open a Twitter account and announce that I am Ashton Kutcher.