Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What me worry?

Google's many offerings are valuable. Google hosts my blog. Gmail is one of my main email accounts. Google is the first search engine I turn to most of the time. I use the image server almost daily. I use the big G news search and blog search services. Froogle helps me establish ballpark prices for things I want to buy or on which I want to make ebay bids. I make some delicious finds using

(The image shows Google cofounders Sergey Brin (seated) and Larry Page in the early days. Source here.)

My heavy usage doesn't keep me from worrying about how Google might -- willingly or unwillingly -- compromise my privacy.

I'm not the only one who has this worry.

As Google's success increases, critical articles proliferate.

Danny Sullivan has a good posting on the subject on his SearchEngineWatch blog: Moving Past Google Privacy Fears & Toward An Industry Solution in which he points out that our risk is more potential than actual, at the moment, and Google's data collection is less threatening than Yahoo's.

Other articles: Google search and seizure (Boston Globe), What Google Should Roll Out Next: A Privacy Upgrade (NYT), Big Google Becomes Big Target (NYT), Privacy Concerns May Impact Google Analytics (WebProNews).

Here are some things I'm doing to protect myself.

Limit use of Gmail. I've decided not to use it as my main email program. It mainly carries my subscription to the Web4Lib discussion list.

Use Scroogle for most Google searches. Click the link to learn about this service.

Use the CustomizeGoogle Firefox Extension. This extension offers lots of protection and Google convience. If you're interested, you can learn more on the CustomizeGoogle site and its blog. Also take a look at this piece and this one on the SearchEngineWatch blog.

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