Trusting Google: They're on to ya





Google Desktop tracks your browsing habits, and every time you visit a new website, it sends the details to trackers.

I recently installed a trial version of this software, just to track the incoming and outgoing connections, as a precaution against spyware.

Preferences on Google's Desktop clearly states that Information about web pages you visit may be sent to Google to personalize features such as the news shown in Sidebar. Other non-personal usage data and crash reports may be sent to Google to improve Desktop. To learn more about our privacy protections, read our Privacy Policy.

According to the Privacy Policy,
If you choose to enable Advanced Features, Google Desktop may send information about the websites that you visit to provide enhanced Google Desktop functions, such as personalizing news displayed in Sidebar. Enabling Advanced Features also allows Google Desktop to collect a limited amount of non-personal information from your computer and send it to Google. This includes summary information, such as the number of searches you do and the time it takes for you to see your results, and application reports we'll use to make the program better.


The information is being sent in spite of the fact that I've not enabled the Advanced Features. One of the sites, to whom information was being sent, is www.theplanet.org theplanet.com, which is not being used to "provide enhanced Google Desktop functions". Whenever I visit a new website, Google Desktop pings a tracker. This is not too dissimilar to other trackers like Gator, only more discreet.

This discovery (I'm sure I'm not the first to discover this) is quite co-incidental in light of this discussion a few days ago on Codey's blog.

That said, Google Desktop is one of the most useful softwares that I've ever come across; it saves me a lot of time while searching for info on my pc. I'll keep it, but I don't like this either. I'm not going to trust Google only because it's Google.
16 Comments:
Blogger Hum do Harami do said...

The bastards! I always have a special mistrust of companies that try to come across as very cute and creative and google, it's awesome email service notwithstanding is just that sort of an organisation. Another really bad example is the motherfucekrs at Apple with their gay-rights paradealike computers and the incredibly shitty restrictive overhyped piece of trash the iPod. Give me a monolithic we are going to rape you corporation like Microsoft anyday.

November 30, 2005 2:03 AM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Hey! Just found that Mattias interview on kvlt. I'm glad that wasn't in the usual weird way you guys type stuff.

Going by your comment (here), writing 'measured' articles must be really hard on you.

Apropos Google, I've just blocked the outgoing connection. Like I said to Codey, it'll soon be difficult for people to not trust Google. No one likes MS anyway. :D

November 30, 2005 3:30 AM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

And, you didn't read this post, did you? Scroll to the end. :D

November 30, 2005 3:40 AM  
Blogger Hum do Harami do said...

ah yes! was a rather nice review Nix

December 01, 2005 12:17 AM  
Blogger shyam said...

Umm.. it is theplanet.com and not planet.org.. I did not know they'd started hosting with planet too.. Weird, since they use only major colos for their hosting.. Personally I find all these search thingies very obtrusive, my systems have all kinds of kooda in it, so I'd rather not know what all it has at any given point in time.. and the Grkrellmish sidebar such 17 year old linux fanboy thing ;-)

December 02, 2005 1:25 AM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

You jargon-throwing fiend, you! O-)

The search utility works just fine for me, since my system is very poorly organised and almost full. Come to think of it, I was better off being ignorant.

Okay! I just looked up the urban dictionary for kooda, and only just realised what you meant. *laughs*

Interesting word verficiation code alert: bhpdhb

December 02, 2005 2:14 AM  
Blogger shyam said...

Jargon, where, where? You should never meet me in real. I speak a weird combination of business, tech and editorial speak these days, mangling my angrezi beyond compare. My vocab is littered with stuff like low-intensity effort and high maintenance activity, even when I am discussing something as mundane as keeping the larder stocked at home.

December 02, 2005 3:30 AM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Colos and kooda seemed to be jargon. Colos still does. :D

Management jargon is something I intend to get used to; used quite a bit of it until recently, though mostly in jest. I'm kinda addicted to CNBC, so I do use investment jargon sometimes. Ever classified women as high-risk/low-risk? Or (ahem!) waited for someone to bottom out (break up)?

No feminists here, thankfully. :P

December 02, 2005 4:30 AM  
Blogger shyam said...

Colo manne colocated/colocation for the servers, basically bring your own box type of hosting, they'll provide you power, bandwidth and rackspace.

Women, my dear friend, defy all classification ;-)

CNBC, well, will save those stories for some other time. I have a strict policy against putting up work gossip anywhere on the net, which is not already known.

December 02, 2005 4:41 AM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

CSF-II had some masala on CNBC, but I'm only interested in how my shares are doing. Just wondering - have you managed to stay anonymous all this time?

December 02, 2005 4:58 AM  
Blogger shyam said...

LOL, I guess I am just not famous enough be stalked/outed. Besides, I don't run around wearing a tee saying "hi, I'm codelust". But a fair percentage of my regular visitors (at least the ones I know personally) do know where I work, who I am etc.

That might change though when our product is finally launched, it will have a major blogging component and there I won't be able to post under the codey thingie, so this is very much a shortlived joy.

Best was when someone posted an old blog comparison I'd done between CNBC and Profit in the internal mailing list and I had the widest grin on the face of the planet that day.

Rest has to do with my looking like a bumbling idiot who might not know the difference between Adam and Anton. I comfortably pass for a lost in the woods mallu. That works quite a bit to my advantage ;-)

December 02, 2005 5:51 AM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Ah, yes- "The Product". Saw something mentioned about 'blogs on the papers website' on CSF-II, I think.

I think the CNBC vs Profit was one of the last posts I read on your blog before a short hiatus. Resumed reading your blog only recently. :)

December 03, 2005 1:12 AM  
Blogger shyam said...

Nah, that is not the one, left there in July and never really had too much control over that one. There was constant bickering and clashes over the direction I wanted it to go in and the lords' wishes.

December 03, 2005 1:32 AM  
Blogger Crisscrossing Sanity said...

Well, ask me about it. My dad installed Google Desktop coz he has a lot of data on the computer. Too bad we share this 'pc'. The search engine is a bit too powerful, when the keywords are even remotely similar the results include paragraphs and images from my hidden files, my password protected files, everythin i visited on the net, which includes my yahoo account and my blog. Presently, I've been removing results everytime I use the computer. Does anyone have a better solution?? I can't uninstall it without givin explanations, in any case.

December 05, 2005 11:27 AM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

There is a solution for that. Start Google Desktop. Go to Desktop Preferences. Scroll down to 'Don't Search These Items'. The rest is fairly obvious. :-)

December 05, 2005 11:35 AM  
Blogger Crisscrossing Sanity said...

well, thanx a ton for dat. though i have tried it already, and google has it's bugs as well.

December 05, 2005 11:57 AM  

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