Saturday, February 11, 2006

Google Desktop Boycott Urged by EFF


Google Desktop Boycott Urged in this RedHerring.com article covering the recent Electronic Frontier Foundation press release and resulting stories urging Google Desktop Search software users not to upgrade to a newly available enhancement which allows two PC's using the software to "search between computers" and allowing users to be able to view contents of one machine while at the other. (Work/home/laptop machine files all accessible from each of the other machines.)

The crux of the argument is that use of this software and storage of those files on Google servers (which makes the service possible) could potentially allow government and private litigants and law enforcement agencies to access those files without obtaining a warrant for the machine in question.

Stated this way, it raises other questions about information that millions of internet service users provide to all online companies. For example, many businesses and individuals use remote backup services which allow backup of their computer software and files to a remote server for storage as a way to restore computer glitches or failures. All of those companies are presumably subject to this subpoena process raised by EFF.

The thing that makes Google Desktop Search tantalizing to those who may seek computer records in this way is the broad use of that software compared to relatively narrow adoption of remote backup services, such as Backup.com or Apples' .Mac service. We all provide bits of personal and financial data to internet service providers, web sites, shopping sites and application service providers.

Once again, this raises the issue of the trust we impart to online services when we provide any personally identifiable information or financial data to them. It becomes databasified and subject to hacking, data breaches and subpoena. The "Digital Dossier" discussed by Daniel J. Solove, in his privacy treatise, "The Digital Person," is widened and ever growing.


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posted by RealitySEO at 3:29 PM

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