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Online Safety

Google's mandatory location profiling/tracking

Google won't allow you to opt-out of their location tracking for search, we learn from CNET's Chris Matyszczyk's outstanding post "How Google stops you hiding your location."

  • Kudos to Mr. Matyszczyk for spotlighting this latest "creepy line" Google default mandate.

What does this mean?

First, it means that Google has not learned much from its serial privacy problems, like Google setting a default that everyone's house should be included in StreetView photographing and Spi-Fi signal recording, and everyone that signed up for Google Buzz by default should share their Gmail addresses with the public.

Second, it means that Google profiles and tracks your location by default and that you can't opt out from Google knowing where you are, you can only select what local setting Google will use to customize your search results.

 

Why is the FTC AWOL on Google Privacy?

Congress needs to conduct oversight hearings to learn why the FTC is apparently giving Google special treatment, and more specifically why the FTC inexplicably dropped its Google StreetView spi-fi privacy probe without any charges, before it even learned all the facts, and without any accountability mechanism in place to protect consumers or prevent repeat violations.

Google's wanton wardriving in 33 countries for over three years secretly recording people's WiFi transmissions, including full emails and passwords, arguably is the single broadest privacy breach in the Internet era. And the FTC did nothing. And the FTC sees no need for any further action. Amazing.

What's wrong with this picture? A lot. A better question might be what's right with the FTC-Google privacy enforcement picture?

 

Where's the FTC on Google SpyFi?

With Canada, Spain, the UK, and 38 U.S. states all cracking down on Google's wanton wardriving spyfi scandal, where is the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the supposed lead agency on protecting consumers online privacy?

The FTC's silence and apparent absence from the online privacy enforcement playing field is particularly perplexing and alarming... because now it appears that we have a company that is out-of-control in tracking consumers' private actions online, and creating total information awareness power, while we have a supposed lead privacy regulator that appears not to be leading in protecting consumers' privacy...

Apple's Individualism vs. Google's Collectivism

Apple's CEO Steve Jobs is wise to publicly debunk Google's claim that: Google defines "openness" (aka -- good), and Apple defines "closedness" (aka -- evil).

 

  • As Google CEO Eric Schmidt said: Google's concept of "openness" is "much easier to understand by opposition" so he defined Google's approach as the "inverse" of Apple's.

 

Google is right that they are the inverse/opposite of Apple, but not in the way that Google claims -- being open/neutral vs. being closed.

 

10 Questions for Google Chauffeur

Google's blog post "What we're driving at" announced that Google has "developed technology for cars to drive themselves." Google stated: "Larry and Sergey founded Google because they wanted to help solve really big problems using technology... Our goal is to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people's time and reduce carbon emissions..."

 

This project raises some interesting questions no one has asked Google yet.

 

Google Schmidt: "China can be best understood as a large, well-run business"

In his latest display of no-self-awareness, Google's CEO Eric Schmidt, in an interview with the Atlantic, said:

 

  • "China can be best understood as a large, well run business... and China has roughly the following objectives: It wants  to maximize its cash flow; becoming the creditor, if you will, the bank of the world. And Second it wants to maximize both its internal demand as well as export demand. And the entire country seems to be organized around that principle."

 

Is Google's CEO the only sentient being on the planet that isn't aware that China is organized around the principles of China's National Communist Party?

"If China is best understood as a large, well-run business," why does Communist China censor and imprison their Chinese "customers" if they object too much to China's products and services?

 

 

 


Google's Deep Tracking Inspection -- a privacy nightmare

In one of Google's worst misrepresentations about privacy to date, Google's Head of Product Development for Google Enterprise, Matt Glotzbach, told the FT that Google did not believe that its new gmail feature -- that ranks emails automatically based on what Google's algorithm judges are the most important emails to be read first -- would raise any privacy concerns. "We're not creating any new information, we're leveraging information that is already there."

Unbelievable. This is grossly deceptive and untrue.

 

  • Google is claiming that new Google-created information analysis with sophisticated conclusions about importance and urgency, is "not creating any new information?"
  • How can Google claim this additional feature as an innovation or as new, if it is not substantially "new information" that Google is providing and using? Their logic is circular.
  • And under what warped sense of privacy does the notion of opening, reading, analyzing, and judging the importance of people's private electronic mail without their permission -- not raise "any privacy concerns!?"

 

By any measure this is what I would call Google's "Deep Tracking Inspection."

 

Big Brother Inc. Implications of Google Getting No-Bid U.S. Spy Contract

The top U.S. spy agency for mapping announced a no-bid digital mapping contract with Google on August 19th. However, after media inquiries, the agency modified the contract's no-bid format, but made clear "the agency's intention to award the contract to Google without entertaining competitive bids" -- per a Fox News story by James Rosen.

 

  • Wow. There are large and broad implications of this remarkable new development for: privacy, security, antitrust, Google's international business, and Government oversight.
  • The fact that this was announced in late August, when precious few are paying attention, should heighten everyone's Big Brother Inc. antennae.

Has anyone in a position of authority or oversight even begun to think through the irony and stupidity of contracting out the Nation's most sensitive intelligence gathering and analysis function to a company that has:

Don't miss the Onion's Google phone spoof!

Good satire like this is rare and precious. 

Don't miss The Onion News Network's new spoof of a Google phone that is paid for with "automated whisper advertising."  

  • It even spoofs how Google Buzz could send automated ads to your contact list using an automated version of your own voice!

The comedy news clip is only 2 min 34 seconds... after a 15 second ad. 

Google's now a little pregnant on Do Not Track

In a big positive and under-reported Google privacy precedent, Google now has agreed to a new important privacy protection principle that people should be able to opt out of having their homes included in Google's StreetView. Just yesterday in Germany, Google went live with a new StreetView op-out offering for Germans.

First, if it is a good consumer protection principle and option for German citizens, why shouldn't it be a good policy and freedom for all citizens to enjoy in the 23 countries where Google has rolled out StreetView?

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths