Warn Users about Google Desktop - Electronic Frontier
Frontier Foundation (EFF) warned computer users to not use the
Google Desktop feature called “Search Across Computers”. According
to the foundation, it makes personal data vulnerable to government
subpoena, private litigants and hackers.
The EFF headline
reads “Google Copies Your Hard Drive – Government Smiles in
Anticipation”. The new Search Across Computers feature stores
copies of the user’s files including Word documents, PDF files,
spreadsheets and more.
According to an
EFF press release, staff attorney Kevin Bankston said “Coming on the
heels of serious consumer concern about government snooping into
Google's search logs, it's shocking that Google expects its users to
now trust it with the contents of their personal computers.”
Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL were recently subpoenaed by the federal
government for general user search data. So far, all but Google
have complied with the subpoena. Privacy rights advocates applaud
Google for their stance. Many of these advocates are concerned
about possible future government incursions.
worry that the government may want to see what is on your home or
business computer next. By acquiring a search warrant or subpoena
for Google data, they bypass you and can see what is on your
computer. According to the foundation, you may not even be notified
in time to challenge the data collection.
Communication Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) gives only limited privacy
protection to your emails and other files stored by online service
providers. This low level of privacy may disappear if service
providers use the data for marketing purposes.
says the privacy agreement between the Desktop users and Google may
allow the data to be used for marketing purposes. Cindy Cohn, EFF
Legal Director said “If Google wants consumers to trust it to store
copies of personal computer files, emails, search histories and chat
logs, and still 'not be evil,' it should stand with EFF and demand
that Congress update the privacy laws to better reflect life in the
Best Syndication staff writer
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