Thursday, April 21, 2005

Did You Remember To Wipe? Asks Google

Citing its target audience as users with "very good computer hygiene," (gee, nice analogy) Mountain View-based Google just announced its new feature for users who can't get enough of companies prying into their personal habits. My Search History, which just launched yesterday -- yes, yesterday -- allows users to review their surfing, just in case they have a brain fart and can't keep track on their own.

Okay. Okay. I admit this is a great tool for business travelers who don't have access to their browser history. And if people are careful about separating personal surfing from business surfing, they don't have much to worry about, right? (pause) Strike that non sequitur. Who does that anyway? Whatever.

None of this matters to me anyway. I use an application that deletes my cookies, files, cache and history. If it's worth remembering, I bookmark it. And I carry a copy of my bookmarks on my USB external drive for easy access on the go.

Freedom of Curiosity and The American Way
But unlike me, if you lack the anal retentive gene, just take a whiff of the negative possibilities. Library records are subpoenaed and browser histories are scrutinized more frequently these days, by employers and law enforcement agencies alike. You're not doing anything illegal or immoral, you say? According to whom? It's only a matter of time before the Thought Police tap into this new Google search puppy, exploiting it's potential and misinterpreting stored data. In this Age of Neo-McCarthyism, I just can't see how the benefits of sharing my surfing history with a business entity outweighs the benefits of keeping it to myself. Sure, it's another cool tool to explore, but I'm not seduced just yet.

Aside from the obvious e-presence benefits for Google, why are they offering this free service? Apparently there's "some value in providing people with visibility into their past activity," so says Marissa Mayer, the company's director of consumer Web products. Gee. Only some value? And how much time did Google spend to develop this? Privacy experts are not amused. Neither are sophisticated users, who are sick of intrusive cookies and spyware. [scoffs] Please get a clue.

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