Well, Google has capitulated on the user data issue. At the behest of EU commission, Google is halving the time it keeps items like IP addresses on file, from 18 months to nine.
The EU has been after Google fro some time now, citing regulatory issues. Google disagreed, saying that things like IP addresses can’t be used to verify or link to identity, as service providers regularly move them around.
Users don’t seem to think so – saying that Google already has so much information, that the ability to track user movements and possibly identify users is very possible, and that Google should be more concerned about user privacy.
Of course, Google happily handed over the IP address information to Viacom when they were sued over copyright infringement by videos posted on YouTube, so we know that Google has their own agenda and idea of what constitutes user privacy.
Google steadfastedly maintains that they cannot identify you by your IP address. Bloggers are popping up out of the woodwork saying it isn’t so – that they can track back and find out who someone is, and if they can do it, Google can too.
This conversation is far from over – the nine month limit on keeping user data doesn’t change things in the log run. Google will continue tracking, researching and building marketing models, and people will on the whole disregard it.
Truth is, with the boom in identity theft, people are more worried about shopping sites, downloadable viruses and credit card fraud. Once you get thinking about these issues, whether or not the search engine is watching becomes something of a non-issue.
There is a lot of things the search engine does that nobody even dreamed of and a lot of them really have very limited potential to hurt us. One major concern that has been raised is whether or not your information is safe with Google. The answer? “Yes, as long as Viacom doesn’t ask for it.”