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Wed, Feb. 29th, 2012, 06:46 pm
Google History

As of tomorrow, Google is changing its privacy policy. I am not sure of all the details myself, but the primary take-away seems to be that all your various Google accounts -- Google+, Gmail, YouTube, whatever -- are connected.

Some people are freaking out about that. I did, for about twenty seconds, long enough to make one breathless Tweet... but, having caught my breath, it kinda makes sense to me. I mean, why have different account information for different parts of the same network?

But. There is a heck of a lot of web history out there for each and every one of us... and Google has it.

I followed these instructions to check out my stuff, and they had, at the very least, 11,000+ searches I've made going back to 2007. That in itself was a bit disconcerting.

There are a number of sources to figure out what precisely is happening and what to do about it, if anything. But I think, at the very least, you might want to consider scrubbing your Google web history, using the second link above as a guide. Seriously, can you remember what you were searching for in 2007?

This entry was originally posted at http://filkertom.dreamwidth.org/1494619.html. You may comment there or here, although LJ tends to have a livelier conversation at this time.

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 12:58 am (UTC)
pyffe

Where did you get that icon? I can't stop laughing!

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 01:03 am (UTC)
filkertom

Found it a couple of years ago. One of the first ones I really nicked for my own nefarious purposes. :D

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 01:06 am (UTC)
pyffe

Love it.

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 01:24 am (UTC)
aiela

When I go to that link, it asks me if I want to turn web history on. So I'm assuming at some point I already turned it off? Or at some point you had to opt in to turning it on? I've had a gmail account since you had to get an invite from a google employee so maybe it was something you agreed to later? I have no idea, but it says I have it turned off, no option to delete anything.

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 01:26 am (UTC)
filkertom

In that case, I'm pretty sure you're good.

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 02:15 am (UTC)
bryanp

Mine was the same way. I turned it on long enough to check and it said my web history was empty.

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 03:32 am (UTC)
beki

If it asks you to turn it on, you had already turned it off, most likely years ago and forgot about it.

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 02:33 am (UTC)
mimiheart

I use Google a lot, apparently. Almost 24000 searches since 2006.

Something seems very full circle about it al, since the first one recorded is in February and is for Endocarditis and the last one is today and is for Pediatric Heart Surgery expectations.

*clears the whole thing*

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 03:37 am (UTC)
nagasvoice

Hysteria may not be called for, but I understand there's a privacy lawsuit brewing. Haven't got a link for you yet, but just from what I'm seeing the ACLU should be all over this.
The article fails to make explicit a few more troublesome points--ie., it's tying together a heckuva lot more than that.
Google isn't actually telling us now just how widely they could be tying things together. The kind of connectivity one of the Marketing Doods was talking about ranges far past obvious Google products with an obvious name. Not just things that use obvious Google products, like their Analytics (like half the websites out there these days) but also related companies like YouTube, and their phone apps, including your GPS locations.
There's very little way for you to even KNOW half the pies their fingers are into.
The article there does mention the concern about tying people's real names (with their annoying Real Name Policy) with all their online history and information. Women with dangerous and abusive former intimates can really appreciate this stuff.
Oh yes, and all that centralized history and information--oooh, do you see the organized crime hackers drooling already? Such a big sweet target, and probably not half so well-protected as Google folks like to think.
Plus, perfectly legal governments can demand this info from Google. If I was living in a lot of countries, I really wouldn't appreciate these privileged jerks endangering every civil rights activist trying to bring open, transparent, elected government to the murderous dictatorships of the world. How many people have they killed in Syria today?
And further, all of that scattered information, once pulled together in some central repository that's far more intrusive than anything J Edgar Hoover ever dreamt of, all of that is legally discoverable in *this* country.
How do you feel about Rick Santorum's FBI, or CIA, looting the archives for enemies?
In other words, gaaah.

Best explanation (with good directions) here:

http://arduinna.dreamwidth.org/38503.html

Rechecking that link, I find she's added further info.

ETA from comments: Google may also just be looking at cookies left on your computer, and linking accounts that have no visible connection - they consider it a feature, not a bug. Joy.
http://arduinna.dreamwidth.org/38503.html?thread=260967#cmt260967

Edited at 2012-03-01 03:58 am (UTC)

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 01:00 pm (UTC)
lone_cat

I don't think I ever turned Web History on, as I do not like seeing search results as I type, and certainly don't want to see "personalized search predictions" as I type.

What bothered me in the post you linked to was this:
if you're logged in to a Google account and you go to a page that has a Google AdSense ad, or a Doubleclick ad, or uses Google Analytics, Google will know you were there, and will connect that information to your profile in its logs.


Given how pervasive Google Analytics and AdSense ads seem to be...

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 01:56 pm (UTC)
tandw

When I cleared my history yesterday, it was obvious from the small number of entries that I didn't keep my gmail account logged in much at all, and Google can't associate searches with an account if you're not. (Too bad you can't access and clear search history by IP address....) I also clear cookies often, and browse using FireFox with the NoScript and BetterPrivacy plugins. It hacks me off that I have to think about this sort of thing, but as you say it's better to keep that information from accumulating in one, easily-accessed place.

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 03:58 am (UTC)
emiofbrie

History scrubbed last week.

Scrubbing your history also pauses their collection of it on your account too.

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 10:52 am (UTC)
joecoustic

I went and checked last week after reading a lot of news stories and panicky stories about it and my history also seemed to be off. Hmmm.... I suppose I might have chosen to turn it off at some point, it does seem like something I may have decided to do years ago if given the option.

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 12:58 pm (UTC)
ladysoapmaker

I just went and cleared my history this morning and it let me. It was interesting to see some of my searches from 2006 & 2007.

I didn't go through everything but with my husband and our kids sharing this computer with my account logged on, it would have been interesting to see all that was searched especially what the boy children have searched for while I'm not around.

Thu, Mar. 1st, 2012 05:54 pm (UTC)
vettecat

Makes me glad I never liked Google and rarely use it...

Sat, Mar. 3rd, 2012 11:54 am (UTC)
John Patrick

So I think we can all safely agree that big brother isn't watching you, lets face it the government just doesn't have the resources or the manpower, but Google is. Google knows where you have been, what you have been doing and who you have been doing it with.