As well-known privacy campaigner and former Federal Trade Commission employee Christopher Soghoian explains, Google does not "forget" or delete your searches. "It merely deletes a little bit of data that associates the searches to known Google users," Soghoian says.
As Chris Soghoian adds, Schmidt is a man with a PhD in computer science. You might say that a computer science doctorate hardly prepares you for discussions with the international news media. But it should indicate that you're capable of understanding how Google's server logs work.
After Schmidt said that Google retains search data for "a year, year and a half," he was asked "who decides?" He responded by saying that the company is forced to retain data by European law. "Well, in fact, the European government passed a set of laws that require us to keep it for a certain amount," he said, "and the reason is that the public safety sometimes wants to be able to look at that information."
Google has long made this argument. But as Soghoian points out, the EU has said that Google is not subject to its data-retention directive. "The Data Retention Directive applies only to providers of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communication networks and not to search engine systems," read a letter from the European Commission's Data Protection Unit, which is represented on the Article 29 Working Party, the committee of Europe's data protection authorities.
"Accordingly, Google is not subject to this Directive as far as it concerns the search engine part of its applications and has no obligations thereof."
In fact, Google moved to its nine-month policy after years of pressure from governments and privacy advocates, and the Article 29 Working Party still says that the policy does not comply with EU law.
"Deleting the last octet of the IP-addresses is insufficient to guarantee adequate anonymisation," read a May letter from the Working Party to Google. "Such a partial deletion does not prevent identifiability of data subjects. In addition to this, you state you retain cookies for a period of 18 months. This would allow for the correlation of individual search queries for a considerable length of time. It also appears to allow for easy retrieval of IP-addresses, every time a user makes a new query within those 18 months."
Schmidt isn't just leaping across the creepy line, he's misrepresenting Google's data-retention policies. And in both cases, it's unclear whether Schmidt completely realizes what's he doing or whether he's capable of stopping it. There's no shortage of high-profile pundits who point out that Schmidt only continues to creep people out with his seemingly offhanded claims that they — and not Google — are to blame if they're uncomfortable with Google, well, knowing where they are, where they’ve been, and more or less knowing what they're thinking about. And yet he continues to make these claims.
The situation only snowballs when Schmidt seems to chuckle when his approach is questioned and claims that comments seemingly made in earnest were mere jokes. By insisting Google isn't creepy, he only gets creepier.
And then he does it again. ®
When your "jokes" make people scared and uncomfortable, it's probably time to stop telling "jokes".
FAIL - AVOID
Jesus christ when will people learn to avoid this company?
a Company POLICY of getting right up to the Creepy line?
Shit, that is a scary company, and scary bunch of people running it.
Think about your own company, and how they fall short or vastly exceed their goals at different times. Google is BOUND TO CROSS the CREEPY Line if insists on dancing on it. That they refuse to see this, or can't is scary either way. A third option I suppose is Google damn well knows what they are doing and doesn't care. Their deliberate spying actions on people's unsecured wireless networks was proof of how far these creeps will go.
Don't care if this was meant to be humorous, this guy has to realize he is costing google shareholders big $ when he mouths off and makes seemingly true people's fears about his company.
And I'm tired of this BS argument of only the guilty need fear Google or the Govt / Big Brother.
Why do people not see the fear of an organization knowing anything about you? Because EVERYONE has beliefs and opinions that are objectionable to SOMEONE. If someone is collecting that information then they can share it, or it can be taken. No matter who you are if you have any strong convictions, then you have opponents who feel the opposite way.
Ask Jews that survived through WWII Germany if you still don't get the link.
A Burner VM.
You know, periodically people do have reasons to take a few simple precautions. I do serve as intermediary to periodically funnel information to Cyrptome. I prefer to never shuffle the goods in the same way twice...and that requires doing a little bit of research each time. I devote a reasonable amount of my spare time to setting up censor-busting systems for folks stuck behind the Great Firewall of China. Again, I would prefer that the details of what I am looking up as well as the e-mail counts and online webspace purchases be as untraceable as is humanly possible.
Sometimes I do a vanity search: I spend a lot of time on the internet and I am professionally curious about my “footprint.” It helps me advise people about how to do things like Internet marketing. Tor allows me to look at this “footprint” from multiple different countries – in essence bypassing Google’s geolocation. Shock and awe: I sometimes look up old acquaintances as well: see how they are doing, maybe try to find an e-mail or Facebook page. I would really rather that Google not be associating me with “the people I know” any more than *I* personally choose.
I participate in my local political scene…enough to want to keep much of that to myself. I am fairly certain my current government has next to no scruples and I since I am pretty left wing, when I go searching for evidence that ends up political documents or propaganda then I really don’t need my right-wing government even having a snowball’s chance in a neutron star of finding out who is supplying the research time.
Beyond that, there is simply a large amount of Google thwarting. Google have made an entire business out of knowing everything. Small as it is, a drop of water in the ocean maybe, I do have the tiny little bud of an ego. For whatever bizarre reason, that ego gets a real kick out of thwarting Schmidt even the tiniest bit. Adding some noise to their signal.
As to trusting Bing…oddly, I do. Google has proven to me over and over and over that they will sell you to the lowest bidder at the drop of a hat. Then they’ll sell you to the highest bidder…and everyone else in between. Bing is run by Microsoft. Microsoft might well make me pay some astronomical amount. They might code something so poorly that someone else might find a way to “hack” it…but I seriously doubt they’d sell my information to a third party. Their biggest card right now to individuals or businesses is “we’re not Google! Look how not creepy we are!” They’re going to dine on that for as long as people are creeped out by the privacy monglers at the chocolate factory.
For the most part though, even if Joe Spammer manages to find out that I personally ran a search for ‘+Europa +Surface +Radiation’ or ‘+Ibuprofen +”blood brain barrier” +”traversal rate”’ I don’t care. That’s random enough and harmless enough they can go nuts with it. I am entirely unsure what value that could have to an advertiser (beyond maybe legitimately advertising me things I might want.) It is of zero use to a government.
If you want to call the above paranoid, then I am paranoid. I accept that. I simply don’t trust Google. They have lost that trust. I also don’t trust the Canadian, American, British, Australian and virtually every third-world or developing government out there. It is distinctly in their best interest to quash dissent, intimidate folk who might consider speaking out against them and otherwise being dicks. Even though I personally would not present much of a threat, I do devote time towards doing a lot of research on behalf of folks who might well seem it to their governments.
People who want to (for example) figure out how to emigrate from China into Canada with the least amount of hassle, or who want to make sure information about some tragedy in Zimbabwe makes it to the press.
So screw Google’s all-seeing eye. Even if the whole world calls me paranoid for it.