Google is at it Again!

By at 10 February, 2006, 2:42 pm

If recent news about major search companies maintaining every search they run didn’t scare you, maybe this news will: Google’s latest upgrade to its desktop search tool will actually store copies of YOUR files on Google’s Computers!

The Electronif Frontier Foundation (EFF) broke the news in a February 9, 2006 posting about Google’s announcement of improvements to its Desktop software.

According to the EFF,

If a consumer chooses to use it, the new “Search Across Computers” feature will store copies of the user’s Word documents, PDFs, spreadsheets and other text-based documents on Google’s own servers, to enable searching from any one of the user’s computers.

In light of recent government requests for data which came to light, this will only increase the potential information that could be obtained without the need for full due process. Accoding to the EFF:

The privacy problem arises because the Electronic Communication Privacy Act of 1986, or ECPA, gives only limited privacy protection to emails and other files that are stored with online service providers—much less privacy than the legal protections for the same information when it’s on your computer at home. And even that lower level of legal protection could disappear if Google uses your data for marketing purposes. Google says it is not yet scanning the files it copies from your hard drive in order to serve targeted advertising, but it hasn’t ruled out the possibility, and Google’s current privacy policy appears to allow it.

So what can you do about this? The EFF’s solution is very simple:

EFF urges consumers not to use this feature, because it will make their personal data more vulnerable to subpoenas from the government and possibly private litigants, while providing a convenient one-stop-shop for hackers who’ve obtained a user’s Google password.

For those that want to use a desktop search tool, look to X1, Copernic or dtSearch which don’t rely on storing information on someone else’s computers.

For additional information on this and the prior subject regarding Google, you should check out the links at the bottom off the EFF article

Categories : Hmmm! | Internet

Comments
Jeff Kupietzky February 16, 2006

Thank you Mr. Petro for highlighting this serious issue concerning many of the free desktop search tools available. At X1 Technologies, we’re committed to offering powerful productivity tools that don’t compromise security. For you or your readers who are interested, we would be happy to offer free copies of our desktop edition software which is privacy and security compliant. Contact me at jeff@x1.com. Thank you.

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