“Big Google is watching you”

An interesting summary of the privacy issues surrounding Google at this point is available over at the Times Online.

“Google has an extraordinary amount of information about its users. It logs all the searches made on it and stores this information indefinitely. Because every computer has a unique IP (internet protocol) address, every visit to every website can be traced back to the computer making it — a fact which is well known in geek circles but remarkably under-publicised outside them. (Shi Tao, the Chinese journalist, was given 10 years in jail last April for “leaking state secrets? after Yahoo! in Hong Kong handed over information linking his IP address and his e-mail to the Chinese authorities.) Users of Google’s Gmail service, who are already having their e-mails scanned to place targeted ads, have given the company their identity, a full record of all their searches and copies of all their e-mails, stored indefinitely. Users of Google’s Toolbar are inadvertently giving the company a list of not just all their searches but also of every single website they visit. And, as the lawsuit makes clear, all this information is potentially vulnerable to subpoena.”

The full story is here.

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