Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Google & Privacy

This blog thread seems to be turning into an extended tirade against Google but I spotted this today on The Register - that research by the Ponemon Institute has found that 77% of Google users are unaware that the company stores personal data on them.

Link here - Google 77%

To repeat (yet again) this place is not about data privacy issues as such, but more to caution against the use of content in any form that is managed out of context. And there is a great deal of information sitting at Google with little or no context around it, the consequences of such profile building are open to discussion - but I think they should at least be discussed.

I drive past Google's offices in Mountain View every couple of weeks, and gaze on with wonder at the incredible growth (physically) going on there - but as an information management professional, such vast quantities of data make me think about consequences.

For the record I really have nothing against Google (honest!) I use blogger and Google search daily. My concern is simply that managing information is much more than technology and building bigger and bigger data mountains to mine. Its also about people, about understanding their needs and limitations. My concern with a firm such as Google is that it could gather so much information in such a methodical and potentially invasive manner without public oversight. One cannot knock them for doing it, but society should be asking some serious questions about the ethical issues that are being raised here.


apoorv said...

This becomes even more important with the recent news that DOJ has asked Google, MSN and Yahoo for search data. Google has so far said No but what if they comply (or are made to comply)?

alan pelz-sharpe said...

I think even if they win this time round, they will lose at a future date. The bottom line is that the value of the personal data they hold will grow, and become more and more of interest to the Government.

But as I mentioned in my post below - it will become of interest to more than just the Government..