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More Google Desktop Privacy Worries & A Microsofty's Fear

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Another Google Desktop security issue to consider. I was forwarded a note of shock about someone who used Google Desktop and found it was caching his banking details (the same person, it should be said, failed to eliminate those details in the screenshot example illustrating this privacy concern).

Yep, GDS will do this, IF you allow it. Google obviously understood this concern, because it gives you an option to disable caching secure web pages.

Eric Baillargeon illustrates the option in his Google Desktop : Security Warning post. Details directly from Google are here: How can I keep private information out of my results?

Meanwhile, Google Desktop-rival Copernic is touting the privacy angle as a weakness. Google Desktop privacy branded 'unacceptable' from The Register has quotes from that Copernic's CEO David Burns.

David's "stick your hand up if you want Google to know what pictures you have, and what MP3 files you have," quote is a bit extreme. So far, there's no indication the tool is going to report back to Google about what data is stored on your desktop (and its image/MP3 search capabilities in particular are rudimentary, to say the least)

David sent me a similar comment in an email discussion we've had on the issue. He was more general in that, suggesting people would be freaked out if you told them their "private content search keywords" would be sent out over the public internet.

My response was that people kind of do this already. They search for lots of things that are very private via the public web. It's just that many of them don't realize this.

Should they be worried? Aware, yes -- but probably not too worried. My More On Google & Other Desktop Search Stuff expands on this more. See also my A Closer Look At Privacy & Desktop Search and my Search Privacy At Google & Other Search Engines articles.

Meanwhile, the headline of a new San Jose Mercury News article should make Gmail is too creepy author Daniel Brandt smile.

The mainstream Merc writes in Google's Desktop Search is valuable, yet creepy about how the tool keeps track of IM chats some might think are private, how things deleted on your computer are still retained in Google Desktop and how, as mentioned, secure pages can be indexed.

By the way, the version of our Google Desktop review for Search Engine Watch members goes into depth out the issue with deletions still being retained and how things like clearing your internet cache do NOT clear a record of your browsing in Google Desktop.

Finally, another interesting angle on the Google Desktop launch. Uh-oh, it's google spotted via Dirson has someone who apparently works for Microsoft worrying that he's getting so tied to Google that "Google is kicking our butt."

Want to discuss or comment on this post? Visit our Google Launches a Desktop Search Tool forum thread.


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