Friday, February 10, 2006

Beware of Google Desktop

EFF is asking computer users not to trust Google Desktop. In case you have never used it, Google Desktop is an application that allows you to use Google's indexing algorithms in your computer, letting you search your files and emails. It is a very useful application, particularly when you want to navigate large number of files and emails to find information. However, I have always been concerned about who has access to the files. With new features, some of the indexes will be stored in Google. This is indeed worrying. While I cannot think of anything in my computer that I would deem sensitive, the idea of my emails and files stored in Google's servers makes me uneasy. What stops them from searching through the files to make direct marketers aware of my tastes?


Andrew Ducker said...

Because if they _did_ sell your data to direct marketers someone would leak this within weeks and nobody would ever trust them again.

The storage of data on their servers is off by default and has a bunch of safeguards on it. Take a look at their site.

Andres Guadamuz said...

Thanks Andrew,

You must have more trust in people than I do at this moment. If Google Desktop is discovered to be selling information, there'll be a big scandal, but only techies will care. The DRM Sony fiasco has left me sceptical about the public. A lot of them do not care.

Bob Rietjens said...

I don't really see the problem either. Ive been using online email providers for years now, and they have emails and files stored in their servers. I'm not afraid they will misuse information. Why should I be afraid google will?

Andres Guadamuz said...

Hello Bob,

I think that the difference is one of technical capability. IMO, Google has the technical capacity and processing power to mine that data, while your average ISP doesn't.

I still think that it is a good tool, but I am personally uneasy about Google's increasing dominance. I am in no way a Google basher, it seems to be the latest trend. However, I do think that giving one single company so much power may have potential implications. I fear a day when the Internet will be the Googlenet.

However, I am paranoid :)