Cuil’s Famous Privacy Policy No Longer Protects Privacy

Remember Cuil, the search engine launched in 2008 that was supposed to be a Google-killer? Didn't think so. Anyway, one of Cuil's touted competitive advantages was that it didn't track user search queries. Its original privacy policy (dated July 27,…

Google Dashboard: Convenient? Yes. Transparency, Choice and Control? Not so much.

Google describes Dashboard as a simple way to view “the data associated with your account”, and that it will provide users “greater transparency and control over their own data.” Elsewhere, Dashboard has been described as a “big concession to users’ privacy rights“, as the answer to the question: “What does Google know about me?”, and as a place providing users “more control over the personal information stored in Google’s databases“. Unfortunately, Google Dashboard is none of these things.

Society of the Query conference: Stop Searching, Start Questioning!

Speaking of conferences in November that I am unable to attend, Geert Lovink and Shirley Niemans at the Institute of Network Cultures have organized the Society of the Query conference, November 13-14 in Amsterdam. With the tagline "Stop Searching, Start…

Google Book Search Privacy Policy Mirrors Web Search, with One Hopeful, albeit Limited, Difference

The proposed Google Book Search Settlement Agreement has been the target of numerous criticisms, not the least of which has been its incredible impact on -- and incredible silence about -- users' intellectual privacy. After pressure by the FTC and advocacy groups, Google published a Privacy Policy for Google Books. In announcing the publication of this privacy policy, Google notes that "Google Books has always been covered by the general Privacy Policy for all of Google's services". Unfortunately, the fact that Google repeats that Google Books will follow the same privacy policy of general Web searching means the norms of data collection of the Web will likely prevail over the norms of the library. All the reasons we are concerned about the privacy of our Web searches are now amplified with the possible emergence of a large-scale infrastructure to track and monitor book searches.

An Objection to the Google Book Settlement by Academic Authors

Dr. Pamela Samuelson has been one of the most vocal, and most intelligent, critics of the proposed Google Book Search settlement agreement. She has written, for example, on how the settlement threatens orphan works and represents a "major restructuring of…

Thoughts on Privacy and the Google Book Settlement

I shared my thoughts on privacy and the Google Book Settlement at the “Google Books Settlement and the Future of Information Access” conference organized by the UC-Berkeley School of Information. My remarks focused on my desire to trust Google when they say they're "thinking hard" about these issues and promise to "protect readers' privacy rights", while noting their track record is reason enough to cause us some pause, which is why we're pushing so hard as advocates on these vital concerns.

IMG MGMT: The Nine Eyes of Google Street View

The art blog Art Fag City recently published a brilliant and insightful photo essay by Jon Rafman, titled "IMG MGMT: The Nine Eyes of Google Street View". Through text and Street View images, Rafman critically interrogates the gaze of Street View, exposing the ways in which it frames our view of the world, while at the same time constraining it. In the post are some of the more compelling Street View images he has found, along with his closing remarks.

Will Google Use “Editorial Discretion” to Exclude Books from Book Search?

[Note: please be sure to read the comments with responses from Google's Alexander Macgillivray] Joris van Hoboken recently brought this section of the Google Book Search Settlement Agreement to my attention: Section 3.7(e) Google’s Exclusion of Books Google may, at…

Google Book Search Settlement and Reader Privacy: Questions & Answers

As the possible approval of the Google Book Search Settlement Agreement looms, various advocacy groups have brought attention to the fact that Google might gain even greater ability to monitor the books you browse, the pages you read, and even the highlights and marginal notes you make on digital copies of books.

The Public Index: A Website to Study and Discuss the Google Book Search Settlement

New York Law School professor (and fellow Yale ISP alum), James Grimmelmann, has launched The Public Index: A Website to Study and Discuss the Google Book Search Settlement. From his announcement: The Public-Interest Book Search Initiative at New York Law…