Saturday, October 23, 2004

Google Toolbar?

Google has come up with its new desktop search tool, and some of my friends have installed. It is an interesting tool from Google. Google says it is a very efficient and useful tool But I am not sure about the safety of my privacy in this case. How will I know that Google or anyone else will not know about what I have in my comp? With almost a third of Google's employees being ex-employees of American government institutions like NSA, among others, is Google just another facade for the American spying agencies? And what the hell does this found in a Google job ad mean? - 'Must have current government top security clearance (TS/SI).'

Google's privacy policy states that 'Google collects limited non-personally identifying information your browser makes available whenever you visit a website. This log information includes your internet protocol address, browser type, browser language, the date and time of your query and one or more cookies that may uniquely identify your browser. We use this information to operate, develop and improve our services.' but, these are the only information that are needed to identify me and all my details. From my IP address and the date and time, you can trace me back to my ISP, and from there, to my house, through my account number or whatever. Given the recent incident when some servers in Europe where confiscated by the American detective agency, it won't be difficult for them to get the info from my ISP in India if some idiot there thinks I am against the American government or someone else!

As I said, Google might be just a facade for the American spies, who trick the users into divulging their surfing patterns voluntarily instead of the government mining the information directly. Just like SETI@home pools together the desktop computers to do some computations, the netizens are pooled together and donate their net usage habits and patterns to the government directly.

Google defines spyware as 'spyware is software that reports on your activities or gathers personal information about you and sends it via the internet to third parties without your knowledge or consent.' but we must keep in mind that it is not exactly spying if it is done by the government or by the American government in this case. In this case it is called intelligence and is essential for such crap as safety, sovereignty etc. One of my friends in USA is so paranoid about government eavesdropping on people, especially aliens and the new patriot act that he now refuses to discuss online anything that might be misconstrued as subversive activities or that might be held against him. Another one of my friend’s colleagues (or friends, or acquaintances) was held for a long time by the immigration people in America, just for being a Muslim in New York. It doesn't matter if he is a highly qualified medicine man who would be worshipped back in Pakistan.

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