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  1. #1
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    Angry New Google privacy policies include logging specific phone call info

    Hello
    New poster to the Lounge so please forgive any blunders I may make

    Just logged into Google today and got greeted by a new privacy policy. I may have been poorly informed and not aware of what personal info is kept in Google server logs, but having read the new version gives me pause to wonder why.

    I reviewed the current policy regarding logging and retention of communications and found where Google has already told users that data regarding SMS texting including the actual message could be logged and retained. No surprise that SMS message are logged, at least to me.

    However, in the new policy Google seems to keep a lot more information about the actual phone calls you make and receive. Read the following except from the policy:

    Begin excerpt

    Log information

    When you use our services or view content provided by Google, we may
    automatically collect and store certain information in server logs. This may include:
    • details of how you used our service, such as your search queries.
    • telephony log information like your phone number, calling-party number,
      forwarding numbers, time and date of calls, duration of calls, SMS routing
      information and types of calls.
    • Internet protocol address.
    • device event information such as crashes, system activity, hardware
      settings, browser type, browser language, the date and time of your request and
      referral URL.
    • cookies that may uniquely identify your browser or your Google Account.
    End of excerpt

    I followed a link regarding how to get personal info out of Google products but found no mention of a way to purge such data from server logs and I beleive only Google could do that anyway. So with one of the main points of the new policy being that it will apply to all Google products and also allow sharing of such information across all 61 major Google products. My paranoia meter is pegging out.

    Am I overreacting?

  2. #2
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    I think that is cause for concern, actually. I think they have come a long way from the "Do no evil" motto. I don't really understand the need to keep that much info and I will think carefully before using any services, even search, to be honest. I think the principle is really what matters and they have no business saving identifiable information from any users.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Am I overreacting?
    That all depends on what you have to hide!

    Actually, welcome to the lounge as a new poster.

    {Disclaimer: What follows is MY and only MY opinion and in no way reflects on the Lounge or it's other posters}

    In this world of I want services for free you have to realize that "THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH"! The only way to support these "Free" services is through advertising and advertisers want to know as much about the target audience as possible to make sure they are getting the most bang-for-the buck. So you basically have two choices.
    1. Don't use the service, then you have nothing to worry about.
    2. Use the service and "Pay Their Price", i.e. loss of some privacy.
    As always in a democracy the Choice is YOURS! That said, have you read the privacy policies of some of the PAID directly sites/products you use...you'd be amazed at what you're paying for believe me.

    Again Welcome.

    I almost forgot, I saw on TV the other day an interview with the CTO of Ford and he was talking about their new electronics packages and how they will notify you about sales at stores as you pass by, etc. Of course he was selling this as a FEATURE for the car buyer "REALLY" he was. What I heard was FORD is entering the Advertising Game big time. And of course YOU know what a premium you pay for a builtin GPS in a car vs buying a windshield mounted unit. Ok, I'll give it a rest.
    Last edited by RetiredGeek; 2012-01-27 at 16:57.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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  4. #4
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    Yes, it's a lot of info to keep, but individually each piece of info is logged as a requirement of offering the service, or as part of system maintenance, monitoring and performance tuning.

    The trick is how they will combine all that information into a profile of the user to offer services and features that the user may be interested in.

    Personally, I have no real issue with that as they provide a service that I require.

    Regarding the Do no Evil motto, there is often an assumption that data mining in order to profile the user and offer services is "evil". I might ask at that point "how so?". Are they out to use the data in a manner that harms the user or exposes embarrassing information? As long as they keep my data safe and secure and do not sell or give it to 3rd parties, I see it as a necessary function of providing the services that I use.

    If I make a rational choice to expose some info and it comes back to bite me, that's my problem. The difficulty in some cases is where the user does not have genuine informed choice - such as the case with Facebook that obfuscates privacy settings and requires unencrypted (non-https) connections to be used some services.

    At least Google are open and up-front in telling the user about the new policies.

  5. #5
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    Just look at how many apparently reliable companies, even some of them working on the computer security market, have been hacked, with their customers data being compromised. The more data they collect, the more valuable it becomes, the greater the risks are if it gets compromised.
    Google is not different, appart from the fact that you probably use more and more of their services. Remember the China hacking episode?

    I am not a paranoid person and my views on this have grown increasingly suspicious of this data gathering. I guess I will be using more services from other providers, which at least will mean less info stored by a single provider.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by netjunkibrs View Post

    However, in the new policy Google seems to keep a lot more information about the actual phone calls you make and receive. Read the following except from the policy:

    Begin excerpt

    Log information

    When you use our services or view content provided by Google, we may
    automatically collect and store certain information in server logs. This may include:
    • details of how you used our service, such as your search queries.
    • telephony log information like your phone number, calling-party number,
      forwarding numbers, time and date of calls, duration of calls, SMS routing
      information and types of calls.
    • Internet protocol address.
    • device event information such as crashes, system activity, hardware
      settings, browser type, browser language, the date and time of your request and
      referral URL.
    • cookies that may uniquely identify your browser or your Google Account.

    End of excerpt
    I wonder if recording the data in bold above is a legal requirement for your locality?

    This Wiki page on Telecomms Data Retention indicates that there are many different policies in force worldwide.

  7. #7
    3 Star Lounger midnight's Avatar
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    I think this is a version of the Golden Rule. The man with the gold makes the rules.

    I only use Google for search function so I wonder where I fit in to this scheme of things.

    Barbara

  8. #8
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    Hello all

    RetiredGeek
    Thaaaanks for the welcome! Truth is I don't know what I have to hide and I am not sure anyone else does either because I don't know how far "social engineering" has gotten or where or how all our data can and will be used in the future. I see your point and agree that some information "surrender" if you will is just part of the internet, but I am still uncomfortable with a privacy policy that tells me Google is collecting very specific phone usage information and doesn't address exactly how Google will use or share it with 3rd parties. the policy says it will only share personal info if i give specific permission or under certain circumstances such as for external processing. The following is another quote directly from the new policy;

    begin except

    For external processing
    We provide personal information to our affiliates or other trusted businesses
    or persons to process it for us, based on our instructions and in compliance
    with our Privacy Policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security
    measures.

    End except

    I also agree that one choice is to not use Google services, but both my wife and I just switched to Android phones in December.....

    Browni
    Sorry about the bold, guess I just wanted to highlight the part I found so contentious. It is not highlighted in the web document. If you would like to see the original documents the link is below. Website says it will be one policy for over 60 Google Services and will be effective 1 Mar 2012.

    http://www.google.com/policies/

  9. #9
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    netjunkibrs,

    No need to apologise! In fact the part you've highlighted matches very closely some of the legal requirements listed in the Wiki document I linked to.

  10. #10
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    My test for privacy law is to consider the theoretical "If Mr Hitler were president (CEO, the big cheese or whatever) - would I still be comfortable that he knew this much about me and my habits". Sadly, under US law many three letter agencies already do - so, what the heck - let's just assume that it is all OK and they have our best interests at heart.

  11. #11
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    There is a Firefox add on, "Customized Google", that allows the personal identifier to be turned off. There are some other toggles that can, supposedly,improve your privacy. However, when you try to install other (free or paid) security (or other) apps you get the message "the app is not compatible with Customized Google". My system tells me that Customized Google has not beenupdatedin a very long time. I suspect that it will never be made compatible so I stay with the older versions of other apps when I can. It would not surprise me if that app is now owned by or controlled by Google.

    There is another FF add on, "Hide My Ass Proxy Extension", that you can use before going to Google search. I really don't have anything to hide and no money to steal but I love to play the game with corporate clowns. That being said, however, they probably have found a way to get what they want. They usually do.

    Although others knowing everything you do online seems benign at this time, you must consider the future. If the spooks in black helicopters put pressure on any company or individual, it is easy to believe they can get anything they want from whomever they want.

    BTW most of the apps mentioned here were found by reading "Windows Secrets". Someone with more time should look into Customized Google to find out what is going on.

  12. #12
    Star Lounger Erniek's Avatar
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    One way of trying to keep your personal info (reasonably) private when using Google is to delete the USER PROFILE and do away with Google+. Also ensure that you log out of your Google account as the info gathered is (supposedly) only gathered when you are logged into you account and a lot of folks never actually sign out. Another way is to start using another search engine. I have started using searchpage and this is based on Google.
    ErnieK

  13. #13
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    As long as they don't start spamming me, I'm not overly worried about this change. Much of it they have been doing all along. As well as most other places. I use FF almost exclusively and control cookies through it, I make them ask every time. And if I am just passing by, I just say no. I don't see this as a huge change, they are consolidating 60 plus privacy policies into one. I'm not likely to start with Bing, I will still use you tube and I don't use gmail for anything but a throwaway address. Not worried. Big Brother is out there but his name isn't Google. :^) gene

  14. #14
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    I really detest that "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" bs. We should ALL safeguard and defend with tooth and claw our right to privacy. More information means more surveillance, means greater control = more power to the surveiller, and you are dreaming if you think that power will not be abused. Here's another pithy aphorism; "power corrupts". Capitalism was meant to be 'user pays' and where there's advertising, THAT'S supposed to pay for the thing we read/use; NOT control of the user through surveillance. The advsertisers in newspapers took their chances with the demographic and I'm not giving up my ID to give some marketing firm more opportunity to profit.
    Apropos of this gathering of info, Google has me pegged as a certain age and gender and so I'm plagued by hundreds of ads designed to play on the supposed insecurities of that age/gender. It's extremely ugly and intrusive, this profiling.
    If i use youtube or gmail, I do not multitask, and I sign out. They want phone numbers now, supposedly to make it easier for us idiots to be reminded of our forgotten login details. Google can go to hell!! They are never getting my phone number.
    I do not use the google search engine any longer. Use google one more time to search this term "private search engine" and then quit them if you know what's good for you.
    Now the utilities companies are also jumping on the bandwagon. Never give them an email address!
    The net, the big bad anarchic net, has been fabulous. Don't be naive and complacent and let the likes of google and whoever take that away.

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  16. #15
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    My first post to the Lounge !

    This is so simple. If you like Google products, then use them and stop worrying about the never ending list of things to worry about. Do I really think someone is zeroing in on my personal info to do harm? Nah. I am more worried about John Ashcroft in some 3rd subbasement somewhere, and what he is up to.

    If we get all paranoid, the only answer is to disconnect from the grid. I'll tell you one thing, I am never going back to IE, except for those few-and-far-between requirements of some Websites. IE scares the crap out of me.

    If I commit some horrendous crime, I deserve to be tracked, and so do the rest of you. Don't worry. Be happy!

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