Monday, June 18, 2007

Big Brother ... Google

A top story today on is an interesting article by Lisa Vaas, Is it OK that Google Owns Us? In it she contends:

"Make no mistake, Google owns you. The ways in which it owns you are laid out in a complaint filed by EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) and other privacy groups with the Federal Trade Commission over Google's proposed merger with targeted advertising company DoubleClick." (Vaas, eWeek, 6/17/07)

She goes on to describe the different ways Google collects and retains data on users; from simple searching to Google Check Out. It really is mind boggling. Just for fun, here's a short list of the data collecting technologies that I use on a monthly, weekly, even daily basis:
  • Google search
  • Google desktop
  • Google maps
  • Google calendar
  • Google video / YouTube

And let's not forget:

  • Picasa web albums
  • Blogger
  • Gmail

And new Google purchases:

  • Feedburner (recent merger)
  • DoubleClick (merger pending)

The article is fair minded, pointing out Google is not necessarily the evil empire as it is portrayed in the report. But I wonder how librarians are viewing this type of information/data caching? Respect for patron and personal privacy are basic credos of librarianship. How will this ongoing debate effect libraries that are scanning books for Google Scholar? What about the points Rebecca raised in her post Google, OCLC, and the Future of Cataloging?

"Some say that in the end it's up to consumers to police the information they give to Google or to anybody, but in fact Google garners information from the simplest action as performing a search. " (Vaas, eWeek, 6/17/07)

As Google continues to gobble up other entities ... professionally and personally users will need to decide how much information is too much.

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