News Clipping

Consumer Watchdog Group Accuses Google Of Spying

By NEWS 8 CBS-TV - SAN DIEGO, CA

Thu, Nov 6, 2008 at 10:50 am

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Consumer activists are criticizing internet goliath Google for spying on its customers. News 8 investigates and gets Google’s side of the story.

News 8 received a video news release from ConsumerWatchdog.org that asks Google to stop the spying. The video shows a typical Google search, where as you type, an intuitive drop-down window tries to figure out what you’re searching for. In one case, a person spells only half of the word "marijuana". In another example, the searcher types "I want to kill the president". Once again, without pressing the enter key on the keyboard, the data in the drop-down box is logged by Google.

Dallas Thornton from the San Diego Super Computer Center says other websites like Yahoo and Amazon use the same search suggest system.

"I think it’s important that users realize that what they do online is being monitored whether it’s Google or anyone else. The days of being private on the internet are no more," Thornton said.

Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, says Google is taking a lot of heat for putting data collection before privacy.

"It was a surprise to me that your tentative keystrokes are actually being transmitted to Google before you hit the ‘enter’," Givens said.

When News 8 contacted Google, they told us they’re simply trying to make online searching faster and easier, and that in only two percent of the time do they log data, such as your IP address, in order to monitor and improve the system. But because of recent privacy concerns, Google admits they’re trying to change their system to make that information anonymous within 24 hours.

A spokesperson from Google called News 8 and told us Google customers can always turn off the Google suggest mode by going to ‘Preferences’ right next to the search box.

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