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New Google Desktop Search Is A Privacy Minefield

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In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: Google: Love It, Fear It
2. Today's Top Story
    - Analysis: New Google Desktop Search Is A Privacy Minefield
    - Gartner: Turn Off File Sharing In Google Desktop
3. Breaking News
    - Firefox 2.0 To Stress Tab, Bookmark, Extension Changes
    - DRM Panel Criticized At GSM Confab
    - 'Throwies' Put Open-Source Spin On Graffiti
    - Dell Posts Higher Profit
    - XM Satellite Radio Losses Widen, Board Member Resigns
    - Microsoft Working To Fix Notebook Battery Bug
    - Firm Offers $10K Reward For Critical Windows Bug
    - E-Commerce Sales Rise In Fourth Quarter
4. Grab Bag
    - Here Comes A Google For Coders
    - A New Way To Tame Chaos Of Flames
    - Policing Porn Is Not Part Of Job Description
5. In Depth
    - New York County Tries Tech To Cut Medicaid Fraud
    - FBI Probes Site, Ponzi Scam Alleged
    - RIM Still Open To 'Reasonable' NTP Settlement: CFO
    - E-Mail Trips Up 'Goldilocks Burglar'
    - IMac Forum Hit With Copyright Violation Notice
6. Voice Of Authority
    - Truthiness Confuses U.S. Patent System
7. White Papers
    - Providing Reliable Network Infrastructure For IP Telephony
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men." -- Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead


1. Editor's Note: Google: Love It, Fear It

I love Google. I've been critical of Google many times in this space, as have my colleagues, but you should know that I also love Google.

How much do I love it? Well, recently, I was taking a quiz on the Internet that asked me to name four sites I visit every day. And I couldn't come up with four. I could only come up with one: Google.

Even InformationWeek isn't a site I visit every day; every once in a while I like to indulge in a charming, old-fashioned custom called a "weekend" or "holiday" or "vacation."

But, still, even on my days off, I use the Internet, and, when I'm online, I find I need to look stuff up on Google.

Even though I love Google, I'm also afraid of it. In particular, what I worry about is privacy.

Google already stores an enormous amount of data on user searches and its Gmail E-mail service. Now, Google Desktop Search raises a whole new level of privacy worries.

As described in a feature article by Cyndy Bates Finnie, the latest version of Google Desktop Search has a new capability, Search Across Computers, that looks wonderful for people who routinely use more than one computer. If you have one computer at home, one at your office, and a laptop you take with you on the road, the latest version of Google Desktop Search will let you search across all those computers from any computer you're using. So you can search your office computer while you're sitting at your home computer. Neat, huh?

Well, yeah--but Google Desktop Search does its job by making copies of all the files on any computer that it's indexing and storing those copies on Google's servers.

So I won't be using Google Desktop Search anytime soon--and if I do decide to use it, I'll switch off the Search Across Computers feature. Gartner issued a report making the same recommendation.

Because, even though I love Google and I trust Google, I don't trust any company enough to know everything there is to know about me.

My colleague Tom Smith disagrees, by the way.

We don't really know what information Google is tracking about us and what it's doing with it. We can only imagine what a malicious person might do with the information--and that's pretty scary to think about.

Our Internet habits are an image of our entire lives, in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer, for better or worse, until death does give us that final "The page cannot be displayed" error.

And Google is so pervasive that our Google habits are an image of everything we do on the Internet.

To read more about Google privacy, visit the rest of this entry on the InformationWeek Weblog. And you can read more posts about Google on the Google category page of the blog.

Mitch Wagner
mwagner@cmp.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

Analysis: New Google Desktop Search Is A Privacy Minefield
Google Desktop's controversial Search Across Computers utility is a great convenience for people who work at multiple computers. But users and network security managers need to be careful about its whopping security and privacy concerns.

Gartner: Turn Off File Sharing In Google Desktop
Google Desktop 3 Beta poses a data security risk to enterprises, Gartner said in a research posting on its Web site.


3. Breaking News

Firefox 2.0 To Stress Tab, Bookmark, Extension Changes
Firefox 2.0, expected by early in the third quarter, is adding features and improvements to make sure that its browser stays ahead of Microsoft.

DRM Panel Criticized At GSM Confab
An independent consultant from the U.K. reminded the panel participants that the telecommunications industry is at least 15 times larger than the Hollywood content industry but is still capitulating. His advice: Tell the content providers to "just get stuffed."

'Throwies' Put Open-Source Spin On Graffiti
The small devices attach to any magnetic surface, such as a metallic wall, and turn it into a space filled with tiny colorful lights. The idea: express yourself while doing no harm.

Dell Posts Higher Profit
With record sales outside the United States, profit rose more than expected. But the company's outlook for next quarter's growth caused the stock price to slip.

XM Satellite Radio Losses Widen, Board Member Resigns
XM ended the year with nearly 6 million subscribers, an increase of 84% over 2004. But the growth was expensive.

Microsoft Working To Fix Notebook Battery Bug
A faulty driver doesn't let Intel Core Duo notebooks enter "sleep" states, thus draining the battery.

Firm Offers $10K Reward For Critical Windows Bug
For a limited time, iDefense will pay researchers $10,000 for finding Windows vulnerabilities that Microsoft classifies as "critical."

E-Commerce Sales Rise In Fourth Quarter
Sales rose 23% over year-ago levels, but this was a slower pace than the third quarter's 26% year-over-year growth rate.

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John Soat With 'It's A Small World'
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Skype users can soon say bye-bye to headsets. Skype service will be offered on cell phones.

Larry Greenemeier With 'RSA Security Conference Report'
It's unanimous: IT heavyweights say security must improve and get simpler for users to implement.


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4. Grab Bag: News You Need From Around The Web

Here Comes A Google For Coders (Wired News)
A new search engine promises to index and organize the 100 million pages of open-source code available on the Web. The hope is that programmers will actually use it.

A New Way To Tame Chaos Of Flames (Wired News)
The blogosphere is full of armchair critics spouting off opinionated rants. But until recently, ranters without blogs of their own were largely consigned to obscurity. Not anymore. New services like coComment let Internet users track, store, and automatically republish comments they post on other people's blogs.

Policing Porn Is Not Part Of Job Description: Montgomery Homeland Security Officers Reassigned After Library Incident (The Washington Post)
Two uniformed Homeland Security officers entered a library, announced that viewing Internet pornography was forbidden, and asked an Internet user to step outside after questioning his choice of reading materials. The incident has forced county officials to explain how employees assigned to protect county buildings against terrorists came to see it as their job to police the viewing of pornography.


5. In Depth: Crime & Law

New York County Tries Tech To Cut Medicaid Fraud
IBM tools will help government workers identify irregularities that require further investigation.

FBI Probes Site, Ponzi Scam Alleged
12dailypro is one of several "auto-surf" sites on the Web that promise large returns to members who agree to view their ads.

RIM Still Open To "Reasonable" NTP Settlement: CFO
With one week to go before the Feb. 24 hearing that might result in a BlackBerry service shutdown, Research In Motion is still open to negotiation, CFO Dennis Kavelman said.

E-Mail Trips Up 'Goldilocks Burglar'
Man who broke into homes in Wisconsin cooked meals, took showers, and checked E-mail. But he didn't bother to log off.

IMac Forum Hit With Copyright Violation Notice
As a result, OSx86 Project was forced to take down its forum, a message board that members use to discuss a variety of topics related to the new Intel-based Macs.


6. Voice Of Authority

Truthiness Confuses U.S. Patent System
Go beyond the headlines and read what the parties say in patent infringement cases, and you might come to this conclusion: There's a whole lot of truthiness being bandied about. Truthiness is a term popularized by comedian Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report, the nightly mock-pundit cable-TV show on Comedy Central. Truthiness, as defined in Wikipedia, is the quality by which a person purports to know something emotionally or instinctively, without regard to evidence or to what the person might conclude from intellectual examination. Truthiness means that perception, not fact, is what's real to those advocating a position.


7. White Papers

Providing Reliable Network Infrastructure For IP Telephony
IP telephony applications rely heavily on IP network infrastructure services to operate. An Infoblox-hardened appliance running multiple services in a highly reliable, centrally managed, and scalable platform provides the ideal way for an enterprise to ensure highly reliable, secure, and manageable IP-based voice applications.


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