Google Exec Concedes Privacy Could Be A Problem - InformationWeek
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2/24/2006
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Google Exec Concedes Privacy Could Be A Problem

The company's "Search Across Computers" feature does pose potential security risks, a Google exec admits, but he says it's an issue for which IT, and not the vendor, is responsible.

Google's "Search Across Computers" feature could pose a security threat but corporations are on the hook for securing their own data, one executive from the search giant said on Friday.

At at a tech conference in Philadelphia, Google Senior Product Manager Matthew Glotzbach said the new feature in Google Desktop 3 for Enterprise beta -- released earlier this week -- could compromise privacy and cause data leaks. The feature automatically stores copies of data on multiple computers.

But he said this is an issue for corporate security officials and IT administrators to solve, not technology providers. The beta was released earlier this week.

"Users' wants are driving a lot of IT direction," Glotzback told a few hundred people gathered at the Pennsylvania Convention Center for a panel on search technologies. The speech was part of the annual technology conference sponsored by University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Buisness. "But it is still the prerogative and goal of business to make decisions on their security … and get a security strategy," he said.

"At the end of the day, if a user wants to subvert those policies and push information outside that enterprise, they probably will," Glotzbach added. "Companies need to ensure that they have a strategy they're comfortable with."

He said corporate management must build security walls and set policies to guard internal data, and that requirement is growing as the line between personal and corporate search blurs.

"The line between personal and work is going away," said the Google executive. " It's consumerization of enterprise IT. More and more consumers are driving what user expectations are in the enterprise."

The feature has raised eyebrows at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Gartner Group which called the feature an unacceptable security risk. and advised coprorate administrators to turn it off.

Google, for its part, notes that Google Desktop 3 for Enterprises allows administrator to disable the feature and is disabled by default.

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