I don’t trust Google Desktop

October 15th, 2004 § 1 comment

So Google launched its desktop search engine. I, for one, won’t be installing it. The reason, plain and simple, is that I don’t trust Google anymore. Not because of the IPO, but because Google keeps saying they still follow their “Don’t be evil” policy, but their deeds don’t show that. (Not that they need to be accountable to me, by the way.)

The Google Desktop EULA states that the program will collect non-personal information if you use it. You can opt out of this at install time or using the preferences panel later, but there’s a catch: Google desktop will install a unique identifier in your computer and will send that back to Google whether you like it or not. That unique identifier is not used if you don’t send data, but it’s there, and if the EULA changes suddenly, it’s ready to be utilized. And, even if you opt out of sending non-personal specific data, Google Desktop will still use the same cookie the other services like Google Search and Google Mail use, allowing them to correlate data on you as you use those services. It’s supposedly non-personal data, but Google Mail seems a bit too personal too me.

You may call me a paranoid, but I don’t like the way Google is using all this information. I use Google Mail sporadically, but not for important e-mail, be it work-related or personal. Although the Google Mail EULA changed after some complaints, it was too strange at the beginning to make me comfortable with trusting Google with my e-mail.

(Before you ask, I don’t use any kind of web-based mail server, I run my own mail server, and I use encryption whenever needed. I just happen to have a Google Mail account because people kept saying it was great, and because I also wanted to see its new-fangled JavaScript-based interface. Anyway, I doubt Google would be interesting in reading the e-mails sent or received by their users. Too much trouble for too little gain. But I still don’t trust them.)

And there’s also Orkut, which has its own strange EULA too.

I probably can block Google Desktop from sending messages back to the mother ship at the firewall level, but I’m not installing it on principle. The recent problem with the Chinese version of Google News clearly illustrates the problems I see with the company, and that’s why I don’t trust them anymore.

Anyway, Google doesn’t own me anything. More than that, they’re a public company now, with shareholders that will demand profits (whatever their claims), and they may do whatever they want. But that doesn’t mean I will blindly use any kind of product they have, even if they give it away for free, just because they used to not be evil.

But, I will have to confess: I never trusted Google. Its cookies have been blocked on my browser for an long as I can remember. It’s just that my Google trustiness level hit another low.

§ One Response to I don’t trust Google Desktop

  • Google Desktop – A new technology from Google; potential privacy issue for you

    One problem is that it centralizes de information and made search really easy and fast. Problems can arise if anybody can have a physical access to your computer station.

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