back to article 'Google catches us in an invisible web of our personal data without telling us'

The Sony Pictures hack dragged on and on this week, as the studio was forced to pull the release of North Korea comedy The Interview following hacker threats against the film while cyber attackers continued to dump files stolen from Sony online. The studio kicked off the week by sending a strongly-worded letter to media …

  1. Vociferous

    Big data is as good as you let it be.

    "Google catches us in an invisible web of our personal data without telling us and without asking us for our consent."

    Yeah, if you're an idiot and uses your real name or same email account everywhere, and feed Google's data engine with your email and voluntary information to google+, then Google might be able to do that.

    Oh wait, these are the same EU regulators who want to make it illegal to use aliases and false accounts on the net, because t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶m̶a̶k̶e̶s̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶h̶a̶r̶d̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶s̶t̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶m̶o̶n̶i̶t̶o̶r̶ ̶w̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶'̶r̶e̶ ̶d̶o̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶o̶n̶-̶l̶i̶n̶e̶,̶ ̶C̶i̶t̶i̶z̶e̶n̶ think of the children.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Big data is as good as you let it be.

      If you have a fixed or near-fixed IP address, most users will be tracked even without ever knowingly using a Google service, which is the point of the original article, unless they install ad-blockers, cookie blockers and other tracking inhibiters. And even then, there are server logs.

      So, while you relax in your ivory tower, spare a thought the rest of the worlds internet population who may not be quite up to your genius level.

      1. Vociferous

        Re: Big data is as good as you let it be.

        > spare a thought the rest of the worlds internet population who may not be quite up to your genius level

        Yeah, installing AdBlock and Media Hint and using a fake account is real genius-level haxxoring.

        And since when has Google access to ISP logs?

        But OK, the norms out there who are unable to install AdBlock and Media hint, will suffer the horrendous consequence that they'll get ads targeted to their interests served on the web pages they visit. That is so totally horrible that it clearly warrants the EU censoring the net.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Big data is as good as you let it be.

          "And since when has Google access to ISP logs?"

          Who said anything about ISP logs? You think website owners don't try to monitise valuable data? Although I'd not put it past ISPs to share data with "valued partners". Every little helps.

  2. Pen-y-gors

    Not just google

    Happened to be on a site the other day, can't remember what, but there was a large ad from amazon showing which included info about items I'd recently looked at/purchased on the main amazon website. Are they sharing this info with the sites they advertise on?

    (memo to self: update Ad-block plus)

    1. NotWorkAdmin

      Re: Not just google

      It's called retargetting. Company I work at uses it. Customers do complain sometimes at how our advertisements "haunt" them as they traverse other websites. I agree, it's creepy.

  3. Szymon Kosecki

    If you have a problem with Google then do not use their services. Plenty of alternatives are available....

    1. James 51

      I remember some time ago hearing about Google creating profiles of people who appeared in the contacts of people who had Gmail accounts but did not have one themselves. Remember, Google is selling you to advertisers and their approach seems to be to avoid taking responsibility rather than asking for permissions before hand.

      1. .stu

        Dunno about google, but facebook certainly do this. They pilfer your friends' contact lists from your their phones the moment they install the facebook app.

        Also, make sure you log out of facebook when you finish with it, otherwise they track you as you browse the web whenever you go to a website that has a facebook like button.

      2. Gary Bickford

        You are the product

        I forget who said it: "If you're getting something for free, you're not the customer, you're the product."

    2. Wensleydale Cheese

      Plenty of alternatives are available....

      It gets tricky when so many sites use

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "Plenty of alternatives are available"


      There is one alternative available : Bing.

      Whether you appreciate it is another matter entirely.

      Everything else is either based on Google, or will never, ever return a meaningful result.

      And concerning not using Google's services, bollocks to that as well. 99% of todays sites use Google libraries, so not using Google means staying on or not using the Internet.

      That's not a choice.

      1. James 51

        Re: "Plenty of alternatives are available"

        What about duckduckgo?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Plenty of alternatives are available"


        What about

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Good question. What about DuckDuckGo ?

          It's Wiki page states :

          "DuckDuckGo [..] generating its search results from key crowdsourced sites such as Wikipedia and from partnerships with other search engines like Yandex, Yahoo!, Bing, Wolfram Alpha, and Yummly."

          Digging further, it would appear that Yandex is Russian, Wolfram Alpha pretends to compute an answer "from externally sourced "curated data"" (no reference provided), and Yummly is a cooking recipe search engine. As for Yahoo!, if it was any good it would not be wallowing at less than 7% of the search market share. So the one source that has a snowball's proverbial is, once again, Bing, which has been available for a lot less longer than Yahoo! but is almost as important - and will become more important since it is backed by Microsoft resources (which are much more plentiful than Yahoo! coffers).

          This question is, nontheless, interesting because it taught me that Baidu is a much more actual contender for Google (given the previous link) than Bing, being 2nd in order before Bing but after Google.

          If Baidu was not censored by the Chinese government, I might just use it.

          1. Vociferous

            > If Baidu was not censored by the Chinese government, I might just use it.

            Censored? It's RUN by the Chinese secret service.

  4. DJ
    Big Brother

    On the other hand

    One can't help but wonder what the reaction would have been in, say, the USA, if another country, say North Aerok, had produced a low-brow movie about the assassination of the current US President...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: On the other hand

      In a more subtle attack it is alleged Sony hackers broke into the servers of Touchstone and re-edited Pearl Harbor into such a crap movie that many American movie goers now feel the raid was totally justified.

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