Google: Technological Convenience vs. Technological Intrusion

Google: Technological Convenience vs. Technological Intrusion

Andrew Pauxtis (Quinnipiac University, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-012-7.ch001
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What began as simple homepages that listed favorite Web sites in the early 1990’s have grown into some of the most sophisticated, enormous collections of searchable, organized data in history. These Web sites are search engines—the golden gateways to the Internet—and they are used by virtually everyone. Search engines, particularly Google, log and stamp each and every search made by end-users and use that collected data for their own purposes. The data is used for an assortment of business advantages, some which the general population is not privy too, and most of which the casual end-user is typically unfamiliar with. In a world where technology gives users many conveniences, one must weigh the benefits of those conveniences against the potential intrusions of personal privacy. Google’s main stream of revenue is their content-targeted “AdWords” program. AdWords—while not a direct instance of personal privacy breach—marks a growing trend in invading personal space in order to deliver personalized content. Gmail, Google’s free Web-based e-mail service, marked a new evolution in these procedures, scanning personal e-mail messages to deliver targeted advertisements. Google has an appetite for data, and their hundreds of millions of users deliver that every week. With their eyes on moving into radio, television, print, establishing an Internet service provider, furthering yet the technology of AdWords, as well as creating and furthering technology in many other ventures, one must back up and examine the potential privacy and intrusion risks associated with the technological conveniences being provided.
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Introduction: The World Of Search Engines

Now more than ever, the casual consumer is letting their guard down on the Internet because of the level of comfort gained over the past decade. The Internet has become a norm of society and a staple of culture. Many end-users accept the potential risks of unveiling their credit card number online, even at the most respected of retailers. While having a credit card number compromised could certainly cause a headache, the future of privacy on the Internet does not have much to do with those 16 magic digits. Instead, privacy, or lack thereof, on the Internet has to do with something all Internet users employ in their daily lives: the search engine.

Privacy and general consumer protection on the Internet is no longer exclusively limited to the safeguarding of personal financial information such as credit card numbers and bank accounts. Other personal information is being given out each and every day simply by using any major search engine. Google, for instance, logs much of what their users search for and then use that information to their advantage. With hundreds of millions of logged searches each day, a search engine like Google can analyze everything from cultural and economic trends right on down to what a given user is thinking or feeling based on their search queries. This collection of information is a smoking stockpile of marketing data that can then be utilized to build or better render other personalized, content-targeted services.

Search engines provide the enormous service of indexing billions of pages of data so that the end-user can mine for a given query. To end-users, this indexing and search service is the ultimate convenience put out by the major search engine companies. It allows us to locate documents, images, videos, and more among billions of Web pages in a matter of milliseconds. An Internet without search engines would be an unorganized, uncharted, unmeasured wilderness of Web pages. Rather than having to shuffle through a floor full of crumpled up, torn notebook pages, search engines put everything into finely labeled, organized notebooks—an invaluable service no end-user would ever sacrifice.

Web sites are typically archived, or indexed, using advanced Web crawling “bots” or “spiders” that run off of servers and seek out new Web pages or recently updated pages. A search engine’s business is built entirely on the practice of collecting data—as much of it as possible. Search engines began as simple, small listings of useful Web sites in the 1990’s. One decade later, these simple listings have turned into one the most phenomenal collections of organized data in history. Google, for instance, claims to have over 10 billion pages of content indexed in their search engine, with millions of more pages being added each day.

It is because of the search engine’s easy access to requested information that they have become second-nature to Web users. People flock to search engines without thinking twice. Google has become a part of everyday society and a verb in modern linguistics. When someone needs to find something online, they simply “Google” it. End-users enter names, addresses, phone numbers, interests, health ailments, questions, fantasies, and virtually anything imaginable into search boxes. Every search is logged and saved. Every user has a search engine “fingerprint trail.” The data that search engines such as Google amount from logging search queries is astronomical, and the uses for such data are endless.

The value alone for such precise data to be sold to advertisers is priceless. Imagine an advertiser who obtained the search data—in its entirety—that Google has. They could immediately reconfigure their marketing efforts with pinpoint precision. Google’s data reservoir is the Holy Bible of the marketing universe. All the same, one could call these piles of data some of the most dangerous weapons in the world: identifying, damming, incriminating search queries are logged by the millions each and every day. Nevertheless, end-users will always use search engines. End-users will always “Google” something on their mind. Search engines are quick, convenient, and always yield a precise or near-precise result. Who would want to give that up?

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Kuanchin Chen, Adam Fadlalla
Chapter 1
Andrew Pauxtis
What began as simple homepages that listed favorite Web sites in the early 1990’s have grown into some of the most sophisticated, enormous... Sample PDF
Google: Technological Convenience vs. Technological Intrusion
Chapter 2
Angelena M. Secor
In this chapter, consumer online privacy legal issues are identified and discussed. Followed by the literature review in consumer online privacy... Sample PDF
A Taxonomic View of Consumer Online Privacy Legal Issues, Legislation, and Litigation
Chapter 3
Hy Sockel, Louis K. Falk
There are many potential threats that come with conducting business in an online environment. Management must find a way to neutralize or at least... Sample PDF
Online Privacy, Vulnerabilities, and Threats: A Manager's Perspective
Chapter 4
Thejs Willem Jansen
Governments and large companies are increasingly relying on information technology to provide enhanced services to the citizens and customers and... Sample PDF
Practical Privacy Assessments
Chapter 5
Leszek Lilien, Bharat Bhargava
Any interaction—from a simple transaction to a complex collaboration—requires an adequate level of trust between interacting parties. Trust includes... Sample PDF
Privacy and Trust in Online Interactions
Chapter 6
Huong Ha, Ken Coghill
The current measures to protect e-consumers’ privacy in Australia include (i) regulation/legislation; (ii) guidelines; (iii) codes of practice; and... Sample PDF
Current Measures to Protect E-Consumers' Privacy in Australia
Chapter 7
Anil Gurung, Anurag Jain
Individuals are generally concerned about their privacy and may withhold from disclosing their personal information while interacting with online... Sample PDF
Antecedents of Online Privacy Protection Behavior: Towards an Integrative Model
Chapter 8
Alan Rea, Kuanchin Chen
Protecting personal information while Web surfing has become a struggle. This is especially the case when transactions require a modicum of trust to... Sample PDF
Privacy Control and Assurance: Does Gender Influence Online Information Exchange?
Chapter 9
Bernadette H. Schell, Thomas J. Holt
This chapter looks at the literature—myths and realities—surrounding the demographics, psychological predispositions, and social/behavioral patterns... Sample PDF
A Profile of the Demographics, Psychological Predispositions, and Social/Behavioral Patterns of Computer Hacker Insiders and Outsiders
Chapter 10
Chiung-wen ("Julia") Hsu
This chapter introduces a situational paradigm as a means of studying online privacy. It argues that data subjects are not always opponent to data... Sample PDF
Privacy or Performance Matters on the Internet: Revisiting Privacy Toward a Situational Paradigm
Chapter 11
Tom S. Chan
While delivering content via the Internet can be efficient and economical, content owners risk losing control of their intellectual property. Any... Sample PDF
Online Consumer Privacy and Digital Rights Management Systems
Chapter 12
Betty J. Parker
Marketing practices have always presented challenges for consumers seeking to protect their privacy. This chapter discusses the ways in which the... Sample PDF
Online Privacy and Marketing: Current Issues for Consumers and Marketers
Chapter 13
Suhong Li
The purpose of this chapter is to investigate the current status of online privacy policies of Fortune 100 Companies. It was found that 94% of the... Sample PDF
An Analysis of Online Privacy Policies of Fortune 100 Companies
Chapter 14
Andy Chiou
In this chapter, the authors will briefly discuss some cross cultural concerns regarding Internet privacy. The authors believe that due to the cross... Sample PDF
Cross Cultural Perceptions on Privacy in the United States, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Taiwan
Chapter 15
Sean Lancaster
Biometrics is an application of technology to authenticate users’ identities through the measurement of physiological or behavioral patterns. The... Sample PDF
Biometric Controls and Privacy
Chapter 16
G. Scott Erickson
This chapter focuses on the specific issue of the federal Freedom of Information Act and associated state and local freedom of information laws.... Sample PDF
Government Stewardship of Online Information: FOIA Requirements and Other Considerations
Chapter 17
Charles O’Mahony
This chapter will discuss the legal framework for consumer and data protection in Europe. Central to this discussion will be the law of the European... Sample PDF
The Legal Framework for Data and Consumer Protection in Europe
Chapter 18
Karin Mika
This chapter provides an overview of law relating to online and Internet medical practice, data protection, and consumer information privacy. It... Sample PDF
Cybermedicine, Telemedicine, and Data Protection in the United States
Chapter 19
J. Michael Tarn
This chapter explores the current status and practices of online privacy protection in Japan. Since the concept of privacy in Japan is different... Sample PDF
Online Privacy Protection in Japan: The Current Status and Practices
About the Contributors