Monday, February 1, 2010

Uhhhh, what was that motto? "Do no evil"

Jan 26, 2010 (6 days ago)
Google Toolbar Tracks Browsing Even After Users Choose “Disable”

from ResourceShelf by ResourceShelf
Google Toolbar Tracks Browsing Even After Users Choose “Disable”
Run the Google Toolbar, and it’s strikingly easy to activate “Enhanced Features” — transmitting to Google the full URL of every page-view, including searches at competing search engines. Some critics find this a significant privacy intrusion. But in my testing, even Google’s bundled toolbar installations provides some modicum of notice before installing. And users who want to disable such transmissions can always turn them off – or so I thought until I recently retested.
In this article, I provide evidence calling into question the ability of users to disable Google Toolbar transmissions. I begin by reviewing the contents of Google’s “Enhanced Features” transmissions. I then offer screenshot and video proof showing that even when users specifically instruct that the Google Toolbar be “disable[d]”, and even when the Google Toolbar seems to be disabled (e.g., because it disappears from view), Google Toolbar continues tracking users’ browsing. I then revisit how Google Toolbar’s Enhanced Features get turned on in the first place – noting the striking ease of activating Enhanced Features, and the remarkable absence of a button or option to disable Enhanced Features once they are turned on. I criticize the fact that Google’s disclosures have worsened over time, and I conclude by identifying changes necessary to fulfill users’ expectations and protect users’ privacy.
Source: Benjamin Edelman’s blog

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