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May 24, 2005


Randy Charles Morin

The Google = Big Brother issue is not new. I heard the other day that 3/4 of all Web session hit some property of Google's (adsense, google search, google search box, gmail, etc.). Truth is, they know everything about you. In fact, they know more about you than you do. Image the psychographical information they have from your hit trail. So now they even know the content of my email. Ever think about where your MSN and Yahoo! MSGer traffic goes (clear text)?


There was even a measure circulating the CA Assembly that would have outlawed what google is doing with gmail, but thankfully that didn't get far.

On another note, I wrote about the google personal search history, which is a manifestation of their ability to build a personal profile based on where you have been.


As further proof that Google knows an incredible amount about folks ... I am in India this week, working with my colleagues here in Bangalore. When I went to the Google home page, it came up in Tamil. I am a native Tamilian (though, having spent the last 30-odd years in the US, I am not fluent). The amazing part is that there are 15 official languages in India and Tamil is spoken by a minority. The interesting questions are:

How did Google know?
Should Google know?


I think the next question you should ask is "was I harmed because Google deduced this, and if not, did I enjoy a convenience or benefit as a result?"



I was exactly the way I was thinking. Was I harmed? No. Did I receive a valuable service in exchange? Yes.

However, I started thinking about it a bit more and I realized that the answer is not so clear. The problem with data mining is that I don't know what they know about me, furthermore, I don't know who can potentially have access to this information. Therefore, I cannot really assess the potential harm. Interestingly, even Google probably doesn't know what they really know about me.

Does this mean that I'm going to stop using Google? Heck no (at least not for now). I want to think about this a bit more.


every generation is faced with challenges and problems that had not previously surfaced. It's clear that as society moves forward there will be legislated solutions, best practice solutions, and finally market solutions... and just when we get this figured out there will be something new to puzzle us!

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