Monday, April 23, 2007

Google Emerges as a Greater Threat to Online Privacy

Google in the last week has made a couple of ominous announcements that seem to threaten any shred of online privacy.

First, their new Web History feature makes the extent of their tracking of your online browsing more apparent.

Web History lets you look back in time, revisit the sites you've browsed, and search over the full text of pages you've seen. All you need is a Google Account and the Google Toolbar with PageRank enabled. The Toolbar, as part of your browser, helps us associate the pages you visit with your Google Account. |Lifehacker|

The good news is that you can opt out of Google’s web tracking, or (if you aren't worried) you can sign up for Google History at this link.

Google has also announced plans to merge with the online ad agency Doubleclick. Bespacific has some nice coverage of Google’s proposed merger with Doubleclick.

While the Internet has never been anonymous, it has at least had some elements of being pseudonymous*, and it is that psuedonymity that is threatened by Google's recent moves.

* See Tal Zarsky's paper on these topics for more: Thinking Outside the Box: Considering Transparency, Anonymity, and Pseudonymity as Overall Solutions to
the Problems of Information Privacy in the Internet Society
|PDF|

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