Eric Shahinian wrote some detailed notes on last night’s panel on “Are You Googling Your Privacy Away?” for the New York County Lawyers’ Association / Cyberspace Law Committee.
Mark Grossman, Partner, Dewitt Grossman, P.L.
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To discuss recent news, let’s look at the new Sprint Family Locator. Who is concerned? Doubtful. Many of you probably feel that it’s a sign of relief, that now I will know where my spouse or kid is in an instant. But it’s more serious. Think divorce litigation. You claimed to be at work, but your phone says you were at the Holiday Inn. Curious. I wonder what you could’ve been doing. Many issues come up as to: is my provider allowed to disclose information if I don’t want them to? Is there any way to stop them? This is only the beginning.
To add on to the discussion of the actual cost to store this information, we are talking a tremendous amount of space. This information therefore must be worth it, and it is. It is worth an incredible amount.
The EU operates differently than the U.S. In Spain, this isn’t an issue. We are in a different culture, people easily spread their information. Myspace.com is a great example. 75 million users and growing, all of which have given out readily accessible information, that can deduce other information that can say so very much.
There are tons of things to improve in the industry, but we need to focus on one thing in particular, and politics has a great deal to do with it. I am a moderate Democrat, and my views reflect that position. This is truly a debate on choice. Yes, some people prefer to have their information known in order for companies not to waste their time by trying to sell a consumer things that person does not want. That is fine. As I will say again, the question is, if you didn’t want your information shared, could you stop it? No. If the information was lost or stolen, would you want to know? Yes. Could you? Probably not.
I recommend Webwasher and Scroogle.org as useful tools to combat the concerns.
I would love it if the bookstore owner knew what I wanted and would pick out books for me. It is the same thing now. But it isn’t one piece of data, they are compiling vast amounts of information.
Harry Valetk, Director, Privacy Online, Entertainment Software Rating Board
Everything can be tracked. This isn’t just web pages here. This concerns call records, email records, search queries. It is all saved, it is never really deleted. Google doesn’t delete a thing. They have compiled detailed profiles of every imaginable characteristic.
What has emerged as the controversy over internet cache is truly, how can they sell this to someone? This is private information. But now think back 20 years. Often times a business’ greatest asset was their mailing list. Especially for a marketer. It is the crux of their modern marketing business.
Raj Goel, CTO, Brainlink International, Inc.
What I find most fascinating, something that most people don’t catch on to, is who would want this information from people, aside from marketers and thief’s? Easy to answer: the government. Surprising how most people never realize they provide the demand for most of this information.
A good analogy of this industry and discussion is to the automotive industry. We are at the equivalent right now of having just got a new Cadillac (picture this 40 years ago), driving 90 mph, and this was years and years before seatbelts and airbags. What a dangerous situation indeed.
What is most frightening about Google is not their basic search, it is Gmail. Does anyone have Google? Who got an invitation? It is invitation only. But wait, look at this, if you provide your cell phone number, they will send you an invitation? Ever realize they could easily just give you an invitation on the website? They want your number. Google doesn’t want to be a search engine. It wants to be the largest database in the world. They already know more about you than you may know. Under legislation email must be kept private, under legal documentation, Gmail isn’t an email account, it is a database. Notice how the top link in Gmail happens to work very nicely with your tastes. Something in your email revealed that. Check the fine print.
So what’s worse than Gmail? Google Desktop. Yeah it’s great, and efficient. But it gives Google “the keys to your life”. You make yourself so vulnerable to issues. Ever realize how you can view deleted emails from a long time ago, or find web pages you may have view briefly? All which has been “deleted” truly was not. It is saved for many, many years.
Remember the litigation facing Google, in which they refused to give over user data? Don’t feel safe, it is because it is too valuable to them, not you. But what is not discussed is the National Security Letter they likely received, forcing them to give over the information, and forcing them not to discuss the situation.
To hit home, I know most people have medical information they don’t want disclosed. I did work for a healthcare provider, and trust me, your information, minus any psych evaluation, is in at least 5 countries.