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I want to respond to an article on Google-watch.org, which both my Uncle Carl and my father have sent to me. The article in question is here.

1. Google's immortal cookie: Uhm... so? Google was innovative, and everyone latched onto the idea. And, as the article says, "Now it's years later, and immortal cookies are commonplace among search engines". Each of the "big four" that the article listed at the top use cookies. Many Internet sites use cookies. What's the point here???

2. Google records everything they can: Gee, a web site collects a cookie ID, IP address, date/time stamp, and browser config. Wow. Gee, it's like no one else on the planet does that! Frankly, there are no respectable web servers that *don't* collect that information automatically! This is the same kind of FUD (Fear, uncertaintly, and doubt) that the weasels at Evidence Eliminator use to shill their product. It's tantamount to using the embedded file:///c:/ trick (example) as "proof" that other people can see everything on your computer, when your browser is displaying the info back to you, with no information going to the browser itself.

So now we get to the other item the writer claims that Google keeps -- the searches. Uhm, so what? I remember a little Java based applet that WebCrawler had back in the days that would scroll all the requested searches made, somewhat live. And since Google does rank searches based on popularity, why is this a sticking point? If goes back to the FUD. Most people don't know/realize/care that Google started out listing items by how many links it knew were associated with the site. So, for example, if no one ever linked to http://www.rialtus.com or viewed that page with a browser w/advanced features on (more on that later), then that site would never had been listed.

3. Google retains all data indefinitely: I'd like to see the evidence of this, frankly. More importantly, I'd like to see the amount of drive space that would be required if they never deleted anything. Let's be realistic here -- they delete things. To be indescriminate, I'm sure they have a policy. It is probably an internal policy that is not for public consumption. The author, who may or may not have tried to get the policy, doesn't have one in hand, and starts spreading the FUD.

4. Google won't say why they need this data: Why would they? It's their business. Telling people, in any sort of detail, how they use the information that they have would risk any competative advantage that they would have. It'd be equivilent of asking McDonald's what is in their secret sauce.

5. Google hires spooks: Ooooh. One guy used to work for the NSA. Ooooh. Based on that, they *must* be tied into all of the government secrets! Er, no. You know, several people left Southern California Gas Company to go work for NetZero. NetZero *must* be in cahoots with SoCalGas to spread the word about their services! Sorry folks, but this arguement just doesn't hold the water.

The people that work in cryptography at the NSA are the best in the world (or pretty high up there at the minimum). I know for a fact that one ISP has hired several former NSA people to work in their computer security departments. This is a logical outcome, and doesn't suprise me in the least.

6. Google's toolbar is spyware: Did the author not read the MULTIPLE warnings about the Advance Features? I mean, they even stop the installation with a pop-up, put in capital letters to please read the information because the installation isn't your run-of-the-mill install, and force you to choose which option you want. They tell you all of what the advanced features do up front. Why is the author raising a stink over it? You guessed it -- FUD.

Also, I have never seen the toolbar automatically update itself, and trust me, there have been a few times I wished it would have. So let's talk about what the Advanced Features do, shall we? I have previously set up a packet sniffer on my machine that had the toolbar with advanced features enabled. With every web page view, it sent one stream to Google site that had my web page on it. *gasp* Shocking, ain't it? Gee, now we are back, once again, to the point I raise in item #2.

7. Google's cache copy is illegal: Let's first notice that the author says "Google's cache copy appears to be illegal" The emphasis was mine on this. So already, the statement is in doubt. I don't know whether the cache is illegal or not. I don't have the legal knowhow to verify. The rest of the author's statements are opinions, not facts. I actually tend to agree with the author that things should be opt-in and not opt-out, but that is an opinon, not a fact.

8. Google is not your friend: Well, if you believed the stuff above, then sure. But frankly, Google still does the best job that I've seen at getting the information to me when I want it. *shrug*

9. Google is a privacy time bomb: Believe what you want.

I feel better now.