TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Google Growth Yields Privacy Fear

Google Growth Yields Privacy Fear

Monty Solomon (
Sat, 30 Jul 2005 23:46:27 -0400

Associated Press

Google is at once a powerful search engine and a growing e-mail
provider. It runs a blogging service, makes software to speed web
traffic and has ambitions to become a digital library. And it is
developing a payments service.

Although many internet users eagerly await each new technology from
Google, its rapid expansion is also prompting concerns that the
company may know too much: what you read, where you surf and travel,
whom you write.

"This is a lot of personal information in a single basket," said Chris
Hoofnagle, senior counsel with the Electronic Privacy Information
Center. "Google is becoming one of the largest privacy risks on the

Not that Hoofnagle is suggesting that Google has strayed from its
mantra of making money "without doing evil."

Rather, some privacy advocates worry about the potential: The data's
very existence -- conveniently all under a single digital roof --
makes Google a prime target for abuse by overzealous law enforcers and
criminals alike.

Through hacking or with the assistance of rogue employees, they say,
criminals could steal data for blackmail or identity theft. Recent
high-profile privacy breaches elsewhere underscore the vulnerability
of even those systems where thoughtful security measures are taken.

Law enforcement, meanwhile, could obtain information that later
becomes public, in court filings or otherwise, about people who are
not even targets of a particular investigation.

Though Google's privacy protection is generally comparable to -- even
better than -- those at Microsoft, Yahoo, and a host of
other internet giants, "I don't think any of the others have the scope
of personal information that Google does," Hoofnagle said.

Plus, Google's practices may influence rivals, given its dominance in
search and the fierce competition.,1848,68235,00.html

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