Wikipedia Releases Search Data To Public But Pulls It After Privacy Concerns

wikipedia-search-data Wikipedia announced they have decided to give away their search data to the public for free. Yea, they would just give away search data to anyone would wanted to download it. Shortly after they announced this, they decided to "temporarily taken down this data to make additional improvements to the anonymization protocol related to the search queries." My first reaction when I saw that Wikipedia was releasing this information was, privacy issue! Imagine how people use Wikipedia. They may search for family information, medical conditions, religious beliefs, political beliefs and so on. If you [...]

Pew: 50 Percent Have Cleared Smartphone Search History

Screen Shot 2012-09-05 at 10.32.58 AM There's a cat and mouse game going on between developers, publishers and mobile users. The former group is often trying to "connect the dots" and gather as much data and information on user behavior and, in some cases, individual activity as possible. By contrast, mobile phone owners (especially smartphone owners) are often trying to thwart or very selectively allow that data collection. The Pew Internet Project just released survey data revealing that mobile users may be a great deal more sensitive to privacy issues than most developers and publishers think. The survey was conducted in Mar [...]

NBC Olympics Executive’s Email Wasn’t “Widely Available” In Google

twitter-new-logo-2012 The interwebs are all a flutter over how a critic of NBC's Olympic coverage had his Twitter account suspended after tweeting the email address of the executive in charge of that coverage. It was private, said Twitter. Public to anyone with Google, said journalist Guy Adams, whose account was suspended. Actually, from what I can tell, it really wasn't public to anyone with Google. A Tweet Too Far Adams is a journalist who works for The Independent. He's tweeted loudly and proudly against NBC's coverage of the Olympics, as Deadspin details. But when he encouraged people to email Gary Zenkel, [...]

Survey Paradox: People Like Google But Not What It’s Doing

Last week the Pew Internet Project released findings of a survey on search, personalization and targeted advertising. In a nutshell, survey respondents had a very positive view of search and the quality of search results. Yet the majority gave an unequivocal thumbs down to search personalization (and behavioral targeting). This isn't necessarily a contradiction or paradox in the abstract, but it is when you consider that the most popular search engine is moving aggressively in a direction most people say they don't want search to go. Here's our earlier coverage of the survey: Pew Repo [...]

Pew Report: 65% View Personalized Search As Bad; 73% See It As Privacy Invasion

personalized search Personalized search? Both Google and Bing will tell you that it provides better results. But two-thirds say they don't care. They view personalized search as a "bad thing," a new survey finds. Nearly three-quarters also view gathering data to personalize results to be a privacy invasion. The findings come out of a survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Around 2,000 adults in the US were questioned between January 20 and February 19 of this year as part of a wide-ranging poll about search engine use, though fewer may have answered particular questions. Personalized Sea [...]

Google Is Watching You (Or Not): New Privacy Policy Takes Effect Today

google-eyes-featured With several governments and regulatory bodies around the world saying that Google's new privacy policy may violate their domestic rules (Europe, Japan), it goes into effect today. Advocacy group EPIC has been trying to block it saying that the consolidated privacy policy violates Google's earlier settlement with the FTC in the Buzz case/investigation. However that effort was unsuccessful. For its part, Google says the new policy will simplify privacy across Google's many properties and make it possible for the company to build a range of new products and services for consumers, including o [...]

Scroogle’s Gone? Here’s Who Still Offers Private Searching

online-privacy You've probably read the news already that Scroogle is gone forever. It launched back in 2003 and was popular among searchers who wanted to get Google search results in a private setting. Now that it's gone, where can searchers go for a more private search experience than Google and Bing offer by default? Here's a list of a few alternatives. Note that different search engines below make different privacy-related claims; I haven't investigated them in detail -- i.e., by examining cookies, etc. -- so anyone looking for a private search experience should do his/her own research. Private Sea [...]

Cookiegate Another Privacy Black Eye For Google

Screen shot 2012-02-17 at 7.39.44 AM Call it "Cookiegate" -- or "Safarigate" perhaps. Late last night we got the Wall Street Journal's piece: "Google's iPhone Tracking: Web Giant, Others Bypassed Apple Browser Settings for Guarding Privacy." Danny covered the article and its claims extensively at Marketing Land. This morning there's an expanding debate about whether the WSJ mischaracterized Google's behavior unfairly or whether the company has in fact been caught with its hand in the cookie jar -- as it were. To recap: Google and other ad networks (i.e., Gannett's PointRoll) were discovered circumventing mobile Safari's defaul [...]

Google’s New Privacy Policy May Violate HIPAA, Congresswoman Says

google-health-medical Several members of Congress continued to express reservations about Google's new privacy policy after a closed-door meeting on Thursday, with one House member saying that Google's handling of sensitive medical searches may violate HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Members of the House Energy and Commerce committee grilled Pablo Chavez, Google's director of public policy, and Google attorney Michael Yang for about two hours. After the meeting, several of the Representatives expressed their unhappiness with Google's answers on a variety of privacy issues -- quest [...]

Google Announces “_nomap” WiFi Opt-out Option, Wants Other Location Providers To Go Along

wifi-router-x As promised, Google has announced a way for WiFi router owners to stop Google from including them in the company's location database. The opt-out requires a change in the name of the wireless network (the SSID) to include _nomap at the end of the name. In other words, if your wireless network is named "McGeehome," you'd need to rename that to "McGeehome_nomap." (And frankly, I'd prefer you use your own last name while you're at it.) Google says this method "provides the right balance of simplicity as well as protection against abuse. Specifically, this approach helps protect against ot [...]

Now It’s Facebook’s Turn For 20 Years Of FTC Privacy Audits

facebook-welcome-featured According to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal the world's largest social network is nearing a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that will subject the company to 20 years of "privacy audits." A nearly identical punishment was imposed earlier this year on Google over "deceptive privacy practices in Google’s rollout of its Buzz social network." The complaint against Facebook stems from sweeping changes to privacy settings in 2009. Several privacy advocacy groups including EPIC complained to the FTC about Facebook's actions, which made much of users' profile data [...]

Ixquick Now Encrypts All Searches

ixquick-logo Likely sensing an opportunity after Google's recent encrypted search announcement, Ixquick -- a tiny and widely unknown search engine -- has announced that it will make SSL encryption the default on all searches. Ixquick says it became the first search engine to offer encrypted search back in 2009. In its announcement, Ixquick notes that the major search engines have recently begun to offer SSL encrypted searching. Other search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing have begun to follow Ixquick's lead by offering SSL encryption. However, the privacy benefits of using SSL with other major se [...]

Reactions From SEOs Come Loud, Fast & Often Angry To Google’s Switch To Encrypted Search

angry-reaction Google caused a major stir in the search marketing community today with the news that it will begin encrypting searches and outbound clicks by default in some situations. The move means that valuable keyword referral data will not be passed to analytics programs (including Google Analytics) when a logged-in Google user searches from Although Google says the change will impact less than 10 percent of searchers, that's still a significant amount of keyword referral data that will now be hidden from website owners. Well, it won't be hidden if those searchers click on one of Goog [...]

Google To Begin Encrypting Searches & Outbound Clicks By Default With SSL Search

google-security-lock-featured Google will now begin encrypting searches that people do by default, if they are logged into already through a secure connection. The change to SSL search also means that sites people visit after clicking on results at Google will no longer receive "referrer" data that reveals what those people searched for, except in the case of ads. Google announced the news on its blog here, saying: As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver. As a result, we’re enhancing our default se [...]

Facebook “Frictionless Sharing” Creating Friction With Privacy Advocates, Regulators

Mark Zuckerberg at F8, the Facebook developer conference held last week, exhorted people to "tell their life story" on Facebook via its new Timeline feature. Facebook also promoted new Open Graph apps integration and so-called "frictionless sharing." But frictionless sharing is already creating a great deal of friction for Facebook in privacy circles and with regulators. In practice frictionless sharing means that once you authorize an app, your subsequent actions through that app are shared on your news feed or the new Ticker. This includes songs you listen to, news stories you read, movi [...]

Google Analytics Gets OK’d In German State

google-analytics-square-logo Google has reached agreement with privacy officials in the German state of Hamburg that will allow website owners to continue using Google Analytics. The accord comes months after Hamburg officials threatened to fine German businesses that used Google Analytics. As part of the agreement, Google has made its analytics opt-out browser plugin available to Safari and Opera users -- it was previously available for Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. Google will also recognize an IP masking tool that prevents Analytics from storing the complete IP addresses of Internet users in Europe. Google [...]

Google Will Offer Wi-Fi Opt-Out Tool To Improve User Privacy & Appease European Regulators

With the smoke still smoldering from Google's long-running battle over the collection of personal information via unsecured WiFi networks, the company says it's working on a service that will allow WiFi router owners to opt-out from being included in Google's location services. In a blog post yesterday, Google says the opt-out will be available to people around the world. Even though the wireless access point signals we use in our location services don't identify people, we think we can go further in protecting people's privacy. At the request of several European data protection authorit [...]

Reputation And The “Right To Be Forgotten”: Spain’s Radical Approach To Search And Personal Privacy

Call it "privacy 2.0." Last year Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously (and incorrectly) said that privacy is no longer a social norm. However one has only to witness the uproar this week over Facebook Messenger and the exposure of phone contacts to see that privacy isn't dead. In Europe -- Spain in particular -- privacy is not only not fading away it's making new inroads against competing interests. Earlier this year in March we wrote about a new principle being developed in Spain and Europe: "the right to be forgotten." Specifically a Spanish court is asking Google to remove data about ro [...]

Report: Google Street View Collected Device Locations, Not Just WiFi Access Points

street-view-car-small Google is likely to face more privacy-related challenges on the heels of news today that the company's Street View vehicles have collected more than just the location of WiFi access points. According to a CNET article today, Google collected those WiFi access points along with the location of client devices including mobile phones and desktop computers. The cars were supposed to collect the locations of Wi-Fi access points. But Google also recorded the street addresses and unique identifiers of computers and other devices using those wireless networks and then made the data publicly avai [...]

Google Gets Chance To Appeal In Street View Lawsuit

Just a couple weeks after the latest setback, Google picked up a small but potentially important victory today in its defense against charges that the company violated federal wiretap laws when its Street View cars intercepted personal data over unencrypted WiFi networks. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, Judge James Ware has put the case on hold and given Google the go-ahead to appeal his ruling last month that kept open a group of consolidated lawsuits that accuse Google of violating the Federal Wiretap Act. In that decision, Ware dismissed a pair of claims against Google, but refus [...]

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