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Lindsey

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #30 on: October 03, 2005, 08:39:26 PM »

If I weren't falling asleep, I might be able to discern whether or not and how badly you're insulting me.   :lol:
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spicynujac

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #31 on: October 03, 2005, 11:14:32 PM »


Since the sidewalk is in front of a business, the business would own it, or maybe the local chamber of commerce. The owner wouldn't charge you to use it because he or she would want you to feel at ease and thus more likely to buy something from him or her.

Yeah, but realistically there are problems with that.  I mean what about the run-down vacant store that has a cracked up destroyed sidewalk in front that I must walk over to get to the store I want to visit? 
And Lindsey, I agree that gov't makes me pay for a LOT, and speaking of what is "just" or "fair" maybe it's wrong to force people to pay for something like a sidewalk but realistically it is much more EFFICIENT this way, with a single entity planning and puttin in sidewalks versus 10,000 local businesses each maintaining a few feet of sidewalk.  And I like public libraries too ;)

Oh and one more thing I like about some government institutions is that sometimes you get things the private sector wouldn't support, because the government doesn't have to profit on each individual budget item it is.  So you may get a public park in your neighborhood that the market wouldn't otherwise support, because they are making more money off of some other project than it costs to build it (say, a police dept or something is subsidizing it from its extra revenue)
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Phuket

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #32 on: October 05, 2005, 08:57:18 AM »

Chambers of commerce could solve two of the problems you mentioned. They could

1. Enforce appropriate behavior (no abandoned buildings).
2. Sign a contract with a paving company to maintain roads and sidewalks (very efficient)

As for libraries and parks, they can be built and maintained on a for-profit or non-profit basis. The best small-town library I've ever visited was built using private donations.

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AlexLibman

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #33 on: January 20, 2007, 06:44:41 AM »

(Yes, I have a thing for bumping old threads that are worth reviving.)

Two stories of a somewhat contradictory outlook about Google are on SlashDot.org this morning:

The bad -- Google's Sinister(?) Plans --

Quote
This week, Robert X. Cringely makes some interesting observations as to what Google's up to next. He theorizes that Google is looking to create a bandwidth shortage that will drive ISP / cable / telephone customers into it's open arms (often with the blessing of the ISP / cable / telephone company). The evidence: leasing massive amounts of network capacity, and huge data centers in rural areas (close to power-generation facilities). The shortage will only occur if the average bandwidth consumption by individual consumers skyrockets; think mainstream BitTorrent, streaming moves from NetFlix, tv episodes from iTunes, video games on demand, etc, etc. Spooky and sinister, or sublime and smart?


And the good -- Microsoft, Google Agree to NGO Code of Conduct --

Quote
Technology companies have come under fire for providing equipment or software that permits governments to censor information or monitor the online or offline activities of their citizens. For example, last year, Google's approach to the China market was criticized over its creation of a censored, local version of its search engine. Microsoft, Google, and two other technology companies will develop a code of conduct with a coalition of nongovernmental organizations (NGO) to promote freedom of expression and privacy rights, they announced Friday. The two companies along with Yahoo, and Vodafone Group said the new guidelines are the result of talks with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.


My personal opinion is that corporations are not supposed to have an explicitly altruistic social conscience, they're supposed to do what their shareholders want them to do - most likely to maximize profits.  A corporation is an organizational directive, a force of nature, like fire or nuclear energy, useful but deadly if misused.  And yet, most of the time that works out very well, "the consumer is always right"...  until the government gets involved.

By becoming a part of the government apparatus, in part or in full, corporations can inherit its limitless power over their consumers and employees, and become intrusive and dictatorial over them.  Without all-encompassing government, people's political energies would go into economic activism, a mechanism that is less corruptible and even more empowering to the poor, since the poor people's dollars can collectively buy more products than they can political influence.  A large all-encompassing government can safely expect all large for-profit companies to play ball when it asks them to, but it can't be everywhere at once,  and it can't stop people from preferring transparent and decentralized solutions that localize the power.

Avoidance of Google's dominance may seem like irrational paranoia to the uninitiated, but the more you think about it, the more you realize how much information Google can collect on you over repeated use, and that in the information age this constitutes a tremendous power.  In the wrong hands, this power can give the government a level of surveillance that Hitler and Stalin could only dream of!  Needless to say, the people who've trusted Google with their e-mail are fooked, but you don't have to be logged in to their user management system to be recognized when you perform a search, and many non-Google sites report your usage to Google through their advertisements.  You can be wary of cookies and use dynamic IP's, but the government is pushing for regulation of ISP's to track who held a given IP at a given time.  You can use an anonymizer to hide your IP, but the information it collects on you, combined with some very fancy fuzzy logic algorithms, can narrow your identity down with amazing effectiveness.  (See this thread for info on an interesting lecture by a cyber-PI Steven Rambam, who semi-jokingly called Google the closest thing to Skynet that exists today.)

Can consumer activism keep Google's market dominance in check?  It's not as simple as switching to a different brand of papertowels, because Google after all is unique - it is faster and more effective than the other search engines, the leading of which are also billion-dollar corporations.  When someone tells you to Google something and you use Lycos.com instead, your Top 10 sites can be quite different.  When something is hosted on Google Video, the interest in decentralizing by mirroring it on other sites or using P2P technologies tends to be rather low.

There does, however, exist a freedom-loving minority of users, say 10%, who value being in control of their information technology, and they give the passive 90% a choice of possible escape pods if they'll even choose to use them.  It is those people that are behind the decentralized Free / Open Source Software movement, and you will already find some of them nagging, "whenever someone links to content hosted by Google, they should make a decentralized BitTorrent link as well".  (I volunteer to be the first nagger on this forum, at least if the content is important enough to decentralize.)  Instead of Google Talk and Google Groups, they'll advise you to use IRC / Jabber and Usenet.  Instead of Yahoo TV listings, they'll advise you to use an application that downloads complete public domain data in XML to your local computer and searches it from there.  Browser settings / plugin can automatically reject ads and other content (especially JavaScript) from an ever-growing immense list of hosts that report back to Google and other tracking databases.

How does this attitude apply to generic Web search?  Obviously it is very difficult to offer decentralized community-hosted version of Google's billion-dollar server infrastructure that spiders, indexes, searches, and caches massive quantities of information at amazing speed...  but you can take advantage of the principle of factor sparsity, aka the 80-20 rule, though in this case the curve is more steep.  It's probably the case that 99% of the time people search Google with the desire to find 1% of the Web-sites, or even less if intermediate junction points are used.  If that small fraction can be contained within a few dozen gigabytes, then it's possible to have a Web-based (or otherwise) search server that most people will be able to host on their computer / network.  Content can include MediaWiki sites, the Open Directory Project, a digest of Archive.org, a specially designed keywords database, and some other peer-maintained data sources.  Updates to this database could be distributed through P2P technology, which would be useful if your connectivity to the Internet is lost or some Internet fragmentation ever takes place.  In other words, about 99% of the time, you will be able to find what you need without a search engine, and the remaining 1% can be outsourced to some kind of a crawler bot that would try to anonymously fetch your search results from another place.

Coming up with alternative technologies is the easy part, but changing human behavior to let go of old habits is pretty hard.  I'll be the first to admit to being a total hypocrite, using Google's fast and powerful auto-correct features for things as mundane as confirming a word definition...   :oops:
« Last Edit: February 17, 2007, 04:28:16 PM by AlexLibman »
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Gay_Libertarian

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #34 on: January 20, 2007, 02:13:55 PM »

You can handle an "eternal cookie" quite easily in Firefox.

Tools --> Clear Private Data --> check all tickboxes --> click "Clear Private Data Now"

From Safari 2.0 and greater, prior to browsing, click Safari --> Private Browsing --> OK to start and do the same process again to stop.

Or if you want to clear your cache, cookies and history in Safari, just choose the menu items that allow that.

Easily circumvented.
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Gay_Libertarian

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #35 on: January 20, 2007, 02:17:20 PM »

Incidentally, the "Google Watch" site is complaining that the Mozilla Foundation -- the nonprofit that develops the free and excellent Firefox browser -- doesn't pay taxes on the licensing fees it receives from Google search.

http://www.scroogle.org/mozilla.html

Just more socialists.  They probably are all about "net neutrality" too.
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gandhi2

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #36 on: January 20, 2007, 03:13:15 PM »

I have some family connections in the industry, and think I can shed some light onto why Google does things the way it does.

Advertising with modern standards isn't working.  And the marketing industry knows it.  Google is setting the foundation for the next big movement.  It's a type of pull advertising called consumer specific marketing.

Exhibit A:  G-mail
Google's mail service allows for an enormous amount of caching space.  They were basically the first to offer free accounts with over 2G of storage space.  They encouraged users to cache their mail for later search.  And instead of keeping the fact that ads were provided with the service, they actually promoted it.  The prime driving force behind their service is their targetted ads.  Google doesn't try to ferret out your identity...they just want to be able to know your buying habits, the things you talk about frequently, etc, so that they can target ads better to your IP.

Exhibit B: Failure to comply to subpoenas.
If Google had handed over the info the government, then all of their valuable information would leave their walls, possibly reaching competitors.  Google's best asset is not their server farm, their indexing algorithms, not even their advertising revenue....it is the IP related profile that they build up from searches, email, etc, etc.  For all worried that somebody else might get a hold of this info, your fears should be appeased.  Even if somebody wanted to BUY the info, to sell it to them would mean that all of their competitors would cripple their profits.

Exhibit C: Zeitgeist-like services
Google's main source of revenue comes from advertisers.  You pay for some content-related ads, or SEO optimization, and then you get marketing coverage on the largest search engine in the world.  How's that for readership?  What could be better for advertisers than to know when would be the best time to advertise on their products?  Google has at their fingertips the capability to say:  "At this day, most people are searching for porn, the elections, and Eminem's latest CD.  Who wants it?  Why don't we go directly to Emininem and the adult industry and tell them that now would be a good time to sign up with AdSense?  Oh, and we can go to the DNC and GOP and tell them that we might be able to give them some rough polling data based on search queries...for the right price."

Exhibit D: Web-related services
Google is doing a bit to ensure that you are always on it's website.  There are word processors, planning calendars, email, chat, calculators...all offered by Google.  It's becoming quite clear.  Soon there will be GoogleOS.  Since it's all web-related, and any processing is done on the server side, all that's needed on the client is a thin hardware layer.  And it's completely compatible for any device.  PDAs, desktops, laptops, cellphones; they will all be able to run the GoogleOS, and the content can even be formatted especcially for the device, again, on the server side.  And if this happens, I am positive that Google will sell customizability as a features.  Consumers will actually want this feature, and not many will think about privacy...those who do will have their fears abated because of Google's past prudency in keeping it secret.  The subpoenas and Google resistance have proven to be good PR in the long run.

In closing, I am sure that Google is being Big Brother-ish here, but I don't think anybody should worry about the things that seem to be primary concerns.  Google is not working for the government...the government is not profitable for them.  They will not release this info to the government....they would sooner nuke their server rooms.  But so long as advertisers can make use of targetted marketing, Google will be the leading competitor.

This sort of thing is inevitable.  In free market situations, Googles will be there, evil or no, and there will be somebody else ready to offer you identity protection and privacy packages.  What you have to understand is that users have opted into Google's service.  They are well within their rights to do the things they do, and anybody who doesn't like it can use the inferior search capacity of another engine.
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Johnny_

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #37 on: January 20, 2007, 03:21:45 PM »

Some of you may know that Google's company motto is "Don't be evil." Well that might have been the case a couple of years back, but times have changed greatly, and so has Google's attitude towards privacy.

This excerpt from http://www.google-watch.org made me question this company and many other search engines in that matter.


1.   Google's immortal cookie:
Google was the first search engine to use a cookie that expires in 2038. This was at a time when federal websites were prohibited from using persistent cookies altogether. Now it's years later, and immortal cookies are commonplace among search engines; Google set the standard because no one bothered to challenge them. This cookie places a unique ID number on your hard disk. Anytime you land on a Google page, you get a Google cookie if you don't already have one. If you have one, they read and record your unique ID number.
So?  Seriously, this is total bullshit.  It's a cookie.  Most pages on the web use them.  You can easily clear them.
Quote

2.   Google records everything they can:
For all searches they record the cookie ID, your Internet IP address, the time and date, your search terms, and your browser configuration. Increasingly, Google is customizing results based on your IP number. This is referred to in the industry as "IP delivery based on geolocation."
Every site does this too, including FTL.  Apache and Win servers both record all this stuff (except  the cookie ID, but FTL's BBS uses a cookie and it records it).  Your IP address isn't private, so what's the deal with this?  You give them your IP address every time you connect unless you're using a proxy.
Quote
3.   Google retains all data indefinitely:
Google has no data retention policies. There is evidence that they are able to easily access all the user information they collect and save.
Once again: a company is allowed to save the information you give them, unless contracted with you to do otherwise.  Don't give that company information you want to keep private, as with any company.
Quote
4.   Google won't say why they need this data:
Inquiries to Google about their privacy policies are ignored. When the New York Times (2002-11-28) asked Sergey Brin about whether Google ever gets subpoenaed for this information, he had no comment.
What they do with user submitted information is up to them.  They're probably contracted not to give it out or sell it, but they don't have to tell the world what they do with it internally.
Quote
5.   Google hires spooks:
Matt Cutts, a key Google engineer, used to work for the National Security Agency. Google wants to hire more people with security clearances, so that they can peddle their corporate assets to the spooks in Washington.
Perhaps, or maybe they're just really interested in security.  Either way, many many companies syphon people out of government jobs.
Quote
6.   Google's toolbar is spyware:
With the advanced features enabled, Google's free toolbar for Explorer phones home with every page you surf, and yes, it reads your cookie too. Their privacy policy confesses this, but that's only because Alexa lost a class-action lawsuit when their toolbar did the same thing, and their privacy policy failed to explain this. Worse yet, Google's toolbar updates to new versions quietly, and without asking. This means that if you have the toolbar installed, Google essentially has complete access to your hard disk every time you connect to Google (which is many times a day). Most software vendors, and even Microsoft, ask if you'd like an updated version. But not Google. Any software that updates automatically presents a massive security risk.
This is a little shady if it's still true, but hey, don't download the search bar.  It also says "with the advanced features enabled" which makes me think that by default the toolbar doesn't do this.  Someone with one should check.
Quote

7.   Google's cache copy is illegal:
Judging from Ninth Circuit precedent on the application of U.S. copyright laws to the Internet, Google's cache copy appears to be illegal. The only way a webmaster can avoid having his site cached on Google is to put a "noarchive" meta in the header of every page on his site. Surfers like the cache, but webmasters don't. Many webmasters have deleted questionable material from their sites, only to discover later that the problem pages live merrily on in Google's cache. The cache copy should be "opt-in" for webmasters, not "opt-out."
Agreed.  Not everyone may though.
Quote
8.   Google is not your friend:
By now Google enjoys a 75 percent monopoly for all external referrals to most websites. Webmasters cannot avoid seeking Google's approval these days, assuming they want to increase traffic to their site. If they try to take advantage of some of the known weaknesses in Google's semi-secret algorithms, they may find themselves penalized by Google, and their traffic disappears. There are no detailed, published standards issued by Google, and there is no appeal process for penalized sites. Google is completely unaccountable. Most of the time Google doesn't even answer email from webmasters.
Then make a better search engine.  People use it because it's really damn good at bringing up exactly what people want. Even Yahoo! doesn't compare for me.  If someone makes one as good or better than google, then there's a good chance people will start to use it.  The web is very fluid, sites rise and fall in the span of months. 
Quote
9.   Google is a privacy time bomb:
With 200 million searches per day, most from outside the U.S., Google amounts to a privacy disaster waiting to happen. Those newly-commissioned data-mining bureaucrats in Washington can only dream about the sort of slick efficiency that Google has already achieved.

Any thoughts on this matter?
We can all talk about what might happen, but until it does, it's speculation.  There are companies out there who's entire job is to mine data.  You can literally buy databases of personal information on people from these companies, and the government is a customer.  So I wouldn't worry about Google.
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lordmetroid

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #38 on: January 20, 2007, 04:04:43 PM »

The problem I have with google is that they store everything. Not all that bad but it can be personal information. They have also admited to cooperate with the government in handing over all this data. Furthermore data is sold to other companies sensetive information can be leaked.

But mostly you are the one responsible for this data to be there in the first place. But without exposing yourself you can not do the things that internet is so good for. I just don't want my personal information to be in the wrong hands. However just search for "lordmetroid", and you will see what I mean. Google has more data hidden as my IP is associated with it and they user analytical tools are used extensivly over the internet, gathering more of my data which I am not actively contributing to be seen.
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gandhi2

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #39 on: January 20, 2007, 04:24:38 PM »

Quote
The problem I have with google is that they store everything. Not all that bad but it can be personal information. They have also admited to cooperate with the government in handing over all this data. Furthermore data is sold to other companies sensetive information can be leaked.
Sure they store everything...it's their business.  But I challenge you to show me the PR where they have officially admitted to disclosing it to government or competitors.  This is definitely not in their best interests.  That info is extremely valuable, and they aren't going to give it up without a huge fight.  The only reason that AT&T did it was because they don't have as much value in their profiling info as Google, and the cost of fussing around with courts and maybe pissing off government wasn't worth the benefit.  Nobody really has to worry about their private info becoming public with Google...their secretive profiling is worth on order of magnitudes of millions of dollars in advertising revenue, and if it becomes more public, it loses it's feed to that info.  Google needs a CONSTANT inflow of data, or it's archived data is all that is valuable.  In marketing old data is bad data...you need new and now data, and if Google alienates its user-base, they lose the advertising moneys.  No, the peoples have much more power over Google than they think they do...but Google is a master of PR.  Considering everything that they've done, almost all of the products Google releases are heralded as positive additions by consumers...who get them for free.  Just think about how little protests have come from users of the product out of GoogleBooks and GoogleMail up to now.
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shanek

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #40 on: January 20, 2007, 04:54:00 PM »

You can handle an "eternal cookie" quite easily in Firefox.

Tools --> Clear Private Data --> check all tickboxes --> click "Clear Private Data Now"

From Safari 2.0 and greater, prior to browsing, click Safari --> Private Browsing --> OK to start and do the same process again to stop.

Or if you want to clear your cache, cookies and history in Safari, just choose the menu items that allow that.

Easily circumvented.

Firefox will also allow you to delete an individual cookie:

Go to Tools>Options

Click the "Privacy" tab

Click "Show Cookies..."

In the text bar at the top, type the name of the site you wish to delete the cookies for. Select the cookies you want to delete and hit "Remove Cookie."

You can also tell it to never accept any cookies from that site again.
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Hittman

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #41 on: January 20, 2007, 06:06:56 PM »

Quote
Yeah, I think google is great. My only gripe is they want tax info for their "AdSense" program. So, I chose not to participate, and let them know. 

That sucks, but every affiliate I'm aware of does that.  My google ads pay for my site and then some, even after paying taxes on the income.  And considering how much traffic your site gets than mine, their ads could be a decent source of income for you. 
 
I just recently signed on with Amazon, and if I recall correctly, I had to give them tax information too. 
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freeAgent

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #42 on: January 21, 2007, 12:29:18 AM »

Google isn't too bad.  You can greatly enhance your privacy with the CustomizeGoogle extension for Firefox.  It renders Google's much of Google's tracking system useless when configured.
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ladyattis

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #43 on: January 21, 2007, 12:56:07 AM »

Exhibit A:  G-mail
Google's mail service allows for an enormous amount of caching space.  They were basically the first to offer free accounts with over 2G of storage space.  They encouraged users to cache their mail for later search.  And instead of keeping the fact that ads were provided with the service, they actually promoted it.  The prime driving force behind their service is their targetted ads.  Google doesn't try to ferret out your identity...they just want to be able to know your buying habits, the things you talk about frequently, etc, so that they can target ads better to your IP.
To be honest, I find this rarely works, even when I'm 'honest' in my surfing habits. I think in this case it's mostly because I'm an outlier for their advert programs, thus their algorithms, no matter how well designed and backed with valid data, will never be able to, if ever, peg my commercial interests.

Quote
Exhibit B: Failure to comply to subpoenas.
If Google had handed over the info the government, then all of their valuable information would leave their walls, possibly reaching competitors.  Google's best asset is not their server farm, their indexing algorithms, not even their advertising revenue....it is the IP related profile that they build up from searches, email, etc, etc.  For all worried that somebody else might get a hold of this info, your fears should be appeased.  Even if somebody wanted to BUY the info, to sell it to them would mean that all of their competitors would cripple their profits.
Exactly, knowledge is power. It's almost like what occurred in Ancient China when it horded the knowledge of how to produce paper.

Quote
Exhibit D: Web-related services
Google is doing a bit to ensure that you are always on it's website.  There are word processors, planning calendars, email, chat, calculators...all offered by Google.  It's becoming quite clear.  Soon there will be GoogleOS.  Since it's all web-related, and any processing is done on the server side, all that's needed on the client is a thin hardware layer.  And it's completely compatible for any device.  PDAs, desktops, laptops, cellphones; they will all be able to run the GoogleOS, and the content can even be formatted especcially for the device, again, on the server side.  And if this happens, I am positive that Google will sell customizability as a features.  Consumers will actually want this feature, and not many will think about privacy...those who do will have their fears abated because of Google's past prudency in keeping it secret.  The subpoenas and Google resistance have proven to be good PR in the long run.
I find these features wanting, then again, SOAP and AJAX suck anyways, geez. ;)

Quote
In closing, I am sure that Google is being Big Brother-ish here, but I don't think anybody should worry about the things that seem to be primary concerns.  Google is not working for the government...the government is not profitable for them.  They will not release this info to the government....they would sooner nuke their server rooms.  But so long as advertisers can make use of targetted marketing, Google will be the leading competitor.
And I'm glad too.


Quote
This sort of thing is inevitable.  In free market situations, Googles will be there, evil or no, and there will be somebody else ready to offer you identity protection and privacy packages.  What you have to understand is that users have opted into Google's service.  They are well within their rights to do the things they do, and anybody who doesn't like it can use the inferior search capacity of another engine.

I think Google is not inevitable, rather just along the way toward it, in that information will become more fluid to a point where even these super vaults of data will be worthless anyways.

-- Bridget
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AlexLibman

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Re: Is Google turning into big brother?
« Reply #44 on: January 29, 2007, 12:13:14 PM »

From SlashDot.org -- The Top 100 Alternative Search Engines --

Quote
Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) Charles S. Knight has compiled a list of the top 100 alternative search engines. The list includes Artificial Intelligence systems, Clustering engines, Recommendation Search engines, Metasearch, and many more hidden gems of search. People use four main search engines for 99.99% of their searches: Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and Ask.com (in that order). But Knight has discovered, via his work as an SEO, that in the other .01% lies a vast multitude of the most innovative and creative search engines around.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2007, 12:50:56 PM by AlexLibman »
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