In a follow-up story from E-Commerce News: Portals and Search: Google Playing for High Stakes in Fight With Feds are some additional insights involving privacy, security, and business privacy.
First off, we should all be backing Google in this fight. I don’t care what the reasons for Google standing up to the government. I honestly believe that there are numerous reasons why Google is taking this stance.
First, for the government to say that no personal information would be reveled is ridiculous. For example, the government could look up how many times someone has searched on the name “James Smith”. What if by some strange situation that your name were to fall into another website that was not even related to what it is that I do. This happens more often than people would imagine. People steal information online simply by copying whole texts in order to try and get their websites to the top of the search results. This in turn gets copied, and copied again to hundreds and in some cases thousands of websites all over the world. What if one of these websites were on the government’s list of potential problem areas for anything at all. Would you want your name showing up on some government list? What if in the process of Googling yourself or your friends, and your name, or their name is in one of those questionable web pages through no fault of their own, and you click on that website page, are you now a marked target by the US Government?
The government is saying that it is not asking for individual names or searches. But, with the right algorithm built to extract certain key data, the government could match up certain patterns for just about everything. Details of your lives, details of your business, what patterns are searched for and when, along with a myriad of various possibilities. They could extract what Christian sites are visited and when. The government could even group searches by conservative and liberal. They could determine how many times the word gun or other keywords are used online along with what websites have that keyword in it. Think about your friends and relatives that have written blogs about all types of personal data with a keyword here or there, that might trigger the “Red Flag”. Even accidentally clicking a spam email could hyperlink to an off-limits site. Additionally, individual IP addresses do show up in searched for results. Many times bloggers and other websites are displaying their search results online and these would certainly get cataloged by all the search engines. These could be traced back if the government chose to demand the IP records from the ISPs, Internet Service Providers.
From E-Commerce News article
“Companies are at risk too. Think about what employees search for in the course of the day. That information can reveal a lot about what is going on at a particular company — whether it is preparing for a product launch, or researching a new demographic, or preparing for a lawsuit,” said Andrew Krcik, vice president of marketing for PGP.
Global Passwords And Online Security At Risk
This type of action could even reveal security passwords and other private information such as your personal and business email addresses, or banking, and securities, and investments. The Google Search bar has been used more and more by people doing all types of actions. Actions such as typing in phone numbers, addresses, and sometimes even typing a password in by accident to the search bar as opposed to another area of the web browser.
I for one am backing Google 100% on this one. The other search engines have already given in to this without even a fight. I think it is in the best interest of everyone in the country, no matter if you are a conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, to seriously think about the implications of this latest government action. Talk about it with family and friends, write about it online, send an email or FAX to your congressman. Do what ever it takes to support Google with your privacy.