Google’s Search History feature, which was switched on as a default option for many Google searchers in February, has now been renamed Web History to reflect how it has expanded to track what Google users do as they surf the web. It’s a huge move for Google and raises anew privacy issues. Below, a detailed look at how the system works, how to pause or delete logging if you want, the impact on search results and more.This is a big story, and not all parts may be of interest to everyone. If you want to skip ahead, use the links to jump to particular sections: Web History Depends On Google Toolbar Web history is tied to the Google Toolbar. The Google Toolbar — first released back in December 2000 — has long had the ability to track whatever a user views across the web. This only happened if the toolbar’s PageRank meter was enabled. By default, the PageRank meter was NOT switched on. In fact, it’s long been joked that the relatively few people who do … [Read more...] about Google Search History Expands, Becomes Web History
Google web history
Don’t like Google Street View taking pictures of your house? “Just move,” joked Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in a CNN interview on Friday. A controversial joke, no doubt — one made even more controversial for later seeming to disappear from the interview. Don’t blame Google, the company says. It didn’t ask for the quote to be pulled. And by the way, anyone can remove pictures of their home from Google, no need to move required. More below. The Full Interview Versus What Aired Last Friday afternoon, Schmidt did a taped interview with Kathleen Parker and Eliot Spitzer, co-hosts of the new Parker Spitzer show. The interview lasted about 20-25 minutes, a Google representative told me. It involved an extended back-and-forth on privacy issues, I was also told. Friday evening, Eastern time, an edited version of the interview aired. I’ve never watched the show, but I gather this is common. Guests tape a longer interview that gets cut down to a shorter … [Read more...] about Schmidt’s “Just Move” Joke About Google Street View & How It Went Missing
Part of this week’s debate over whether Microsoft’s Bing search engine is learning from Google involves data that Bing gathers through Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Google has suggested Microsoft isn’t giving fair disclosure. I disagree. To better illustrate, let’s turn the tables and look at the Google Toolbar and disclosure. Over the past week, Google has pushed at least three times that Bing is somehow gathering data via Internet Explorer to improve Bing’s search results without fairly disclosing this to IE users. Microsoft Does Disclose The first time was during my initial meeting with Google on January 28, when it aired its allegations against Bing. When I wrote my story from that meeting, I looked in detail at Microsoft’s disclosures for Suggested Sites and the Bing Bar, features for Internet Explorer that can send back information. I found nothing wrong: It’s hard to argue that gathering information about what people search for at … [Read more...] about Turning The Tables On The Google Toolbar & Disclosure Claims
As part of the settlement, Google has agreed to pay $8.5 million into a settlement fund, with that money going to seven groups/organizations on the condition that they agree to use the money for public education and/or research related to protecting online privacy. In October 2010, Paloma Gaos sued Google because the company “transmitted user search queries to third parties without knowledge or consent in order to enhance advertising revenue and profitability.” In the original suit, she said she’d been doing “vanity searches” for her own name and the names of other family members. The suit claimed Google was violating both federal and California laws by passing those searches to the sites that she clicked on in Google’s search results. Gabriel Priyev filed a similar suit against in February 2012, and the parties agreed to combine and negotiate together. They eventually accepted a mediator’s settlement plan earlier this year, and filed the … [Read more...] about Google Agrees To Settle Lawsuit Over Passing Search Queries To Third Parties
Back in March 2007, Google promised to begin anonymizing log data to better protect user privacy. That kicked off a wave of privacy pledges from competing search engines. In addition, by agreeing to limit itself, it inadvertently got the European Union to demand even faster data destruction. Below, a look at Google’s progress toward its initial 18 month anonymization plan, the 9 months it recently agreed to and that question about cookies — are they really deleted or not? Question: When did you start anonymizing data, and what’s been changed so far? We began implementing our 18 month anonymization policy this year and will apply it retroactively. We started anonymizing in May 2008, and we’re continuing to anonymize as data comes in. Although we had originally planned to begin anonymization in January 2008, we started anonymizing in May 2008 because we were working on better ways of anonymizing cookies and believed it was important to get it right the first … [Read more...] about Anonymizing Google’s Server Log Data — How’s It Going?