21 April 2010

In the News...

Well, as of the writing of this post, this was nowhere to be found in any US news sources. Gee, I wonder why?

Israel National News reports:

Israel, Other Countries Write to Google With Privacy Concerns

by Malkah Fleisher

Israel is among ten countries whose privacy, security, and information-protection officials have contacted internet empire Google with a request to change a couple of their programs.
Israel, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany all signed a letter Monday to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, to complain about two Google products which they say create major privacy and security problems, according to the Associated Press.

Google Buzz, which was launched in February, attempted to piggyback on the success of social networking by automatically creating 'friends' for users chosen based on who the user contacts most. Changes have already been made to the program following complaints, yet the countries said they were disturbed that Buzz was created in the first place.
Another program similar to the popular Google Maps application, Google Street View, provides map users with detailed street-level pictures of locations provided by cars which periodically drive through neighborhoods with cameras. In a random search of a location, details of the home included the most minute details, such as potted plants, and even the car which was parked out in front at the time the picture was taken.
In Israel, concerns may include the use of such detailed photos by Arabs to conduct terror attacks in the country.
According to the AP, Google replied by saying the issues the nations addressed had been discussed before, but that the company has worked quickly to remedy problems in the past. (IsraelNationalNews.com)
You'll notice that the US isn't on the list of concerned nations. Let me just offer you a personal application and some thoughts. Even though I opted out of Google Buzz, when I run a Google search from my home computer, my location is displayed. Google is tracking where I am searching from (and most definitely what I am searching on). I think I finally figured out how to dismantle this feature, but in the end, I don't think it matters! Essentially, I am going to assume that my location is available to anyone who knows how to properly monitor Google. And it's not just the Google search engine. In case you aren't aware, Google owns pretty much everything. They own YouTube, so if you keep an account there, even just to subscribe to your favorite pastor's videos, it's being tracked. They own Picasa, so all of those adorable pictures of your children that you think everyone just has to see, those are all available across the Internet. Yes, you can select your privacy options, but if you're working in Google, it's nevertheless all being collected. Google owns Blogger, so everything I write here is also being maintained in some large database. If you use Google Chat with your GMail, all of those chats are being recorded unless you specifically change your settings so that they are not. But even if my account isn't recording the conversation, the other person likely hasn't turned on this privacy setting. This is why I shy away from chatting through any Instant Messenger tool. Unless you choose to disable it, Google is collecting your browsing, search, and web history. Did you know all of this? I knew it, but it wasn't until I discovered that all of this was available at my fingertips that it really hit home for me. Looking at my "Google Dashboard" (which I only just recently realized existed) I can see my computer life in a glance. And unless I specifically choose to turn certain features off, all of this is part of my public profile. So be wary of how you use the Internet. And parents, tell your kids and teenagers about this. So many kids are on Facebook and Twitter, posting pictures and revealing their location and detailing every moment of their lives for anyone to see and to track. And if they decide to remove something tomorrow it doesn't matter, someone somewhere still has access to it. Once it's out there, it's out there and there's no getting it back.

There are a lot of implications and dangers to all of this data being recorded and stored. I'm sure I don't have to spell that out for you. Be praying. And keep looking UP!

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