Privacy, What’s That?

Mike is raising some serious and legitimate concerns about the recently released Google Desktop 3.0 and how slowly it erodes end-users privacy. Here is the old privacy policy, and here is the new one. Mike singles out a new Google Desktop 3.0 feature called “Search Across Computers” that stores file content on Google servers. Given Google’s ongoing tussles with the DoJ, it makes you wonder about the wisdom of downloading and installing desktop software. (I for one, an quite grateful that I use a Mac. Just to make sure, I am not going to be downloading the software on the new X41.)

You can’t simply lay the head of privacy at Google’s feet alone and turn them into devil’s incarnate. The telecom industry is under the gun as well. A dear friend reader emailed earlier today, expressing his concern about how none of the online offerings, can guarantee end-user privacy. His lament was across the board and included everyone from Microsoft, Apple, and AOL to Google. (My thoughts on our so called cached life can be found here!)

The current situation with “online offerings” is not that different from other consumer interfacing sectors such as financial, banking and health care sectors. Those sectors were eventually regulated due to privacy concerns and personal data disclosure violations, mostly because of pressure from politicians and consumer rights groups. Should consumer groups step-up and take the mantle of protecting a semblance of privacy? How does one reconcile the desire for digital progress with almost victorian values about privacy? Please weigh in more intelligently on this topic.

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