Simon’s Backup Weblog


You’re never private on the net…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on August 17, 2005

…search engines are everywhere. And they’re getting bigger and bigger, and more and more effective.

See this picture?

It’s a building just down from the EFF’s headquarters in San Francisco.

That chap having a quick fag?

He’s the EFF’s main lawyer on privacy cases.

The picture? It’s from Amazon’s A9 search engine’s building-by-building, street-by-street photography that adds images to its local search. If you search for a company you’ll get to see just what their offices look like, and the landmarks around them. It’s a useful tool that’s not breaking any laws – but could be seen as a huge invasion of privacy.

A recent talk by the EFF’s Danny O’Brien mentioned the fact that the truly rich and powerful hire librarians to scour search engines for their names, and then use the resulting information to track down leaks. And then erase the leaked information…

In today’s information economy real privacy is only available to the very few. Which is why Google’s spat with CNET is so very very silly. If I’m working on a piece, of course I’m going to use search engines to help me find out information that can help me write a good article – whether its from company websites, news services, or personal blogs.

Welcome to The Transparent Society.

It’s not such a bad place to be now, is it…

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5 Responses to 'You’re never private on the net…'

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  1. megadog said,

    The one thing these sorts of applications fail to address is quality-control: they’re not in any way robust against those who would set out to deliberately pollute the simplistic databases used. We’ve had keyword-spamming and link-spamming against the popular search-engines; how long before we get similar georef-spamming against positional databases and a whole slew of bogus 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue webcams or sites claiming to display arrivals at London postcode SW1A 2AJ ?

  2. andrewducker said,

    I’ve wanted to live in the transparent society since I read Earth.

    But then I’d be happy living in the Brave New World.

  3. sbisson said,

    I think services like Scoopt are part of that…

  4. surliminal said,

    I’m gonna use this at my privacy workshop! yay!

    Do you have alink to that discussion ab bit back, about hiow you could use Google in general to look for indexes of webcams all over the world and see through them? there was a key search word I can’t remember..
    Thanks also for the link to Scoopt.

  5. cappriccio said,

    May be http://www.webcam-list.com can stay in handy for you.


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