Feeds

Google trawls chat

Ask not for whom the bot crawls - it crawls for thee

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Yesterday's satire sometimes turns out to be tomorrow's news. Last year Brian Del Vecchio, a systems engineer, created a stir with a spoof Google site which added an extra tab called "AIMsearch". The spoof explained:

"In November of 2001 AOL Time Warner, responding to a subpoena from Attorney General John Ashcroft, made available to the Justice Department a complete archive of all private conversations held over AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). Through the power of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Google was able to obtain a copy of this entire logfile, totaling over 2 terabytes of conversations previously thought to be private."

"This unique resource provides insight into the minds of potential anti-American terrorists, cheating spouses, and countless computer neophytes."

(The pages were removed after a legal request from Google but the correspondence lives on.)

This month many users of Internet Relay Chat (IRC) have noticed increased activity from Google's servers.

"Since things said in chat rooms are traditionally considered very private, I can't imagine what they plan to do," says Aaron Swartz, a young programmer who runs a Google fan blog.

Indeed, IRC has been historically useful, or notorious, depending on how you look at it, for exchanging files. Google's bots don't stay around long enough to make comprehensive indexes of the conversations, users tell us. Google sent a polite note back to one query, explaining that the behavior is part of an experiment, but confirming that it is search related.

However IRC privacy has always been something of a contradiction. ISPs routinely log IRC chat sessions, and by nature, Microsoft and TimeWarner store chat room archives. It'a tribute to the power of fluffy marketing (think: colored balls) that so far, the reaction has been one of unease and curiosity. How IRC users would react to a bot from microsoft.com is an exercise left to the reader. ®

Related Stories

Googol AIMSearch blossoms
Google calls time on AIMSearch
Google - the only archive we'll ever need?

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.