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Letters to The Editor Working for Big Brother?
May 11, 2005

----- Original Message -----
From: "Marcus Macauley" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2005 10:21 PM
Subject: Google = big brother?

Dear Ken,

You might be aware of this, but I didn't see any mention of it on your website, and on your Links page, you link to Google under Search Engines without comment.

The site has some pretty compelling reasons to be suspicious of Google, both in terms of its alleged and often-hyped superiority to other search engines (such as Yahoo and MSN), and in terms of its respect for privacy (which it scarcely even pretends). Indeed, one of Google's founders' main interest in grad school was "data mining", and Google's privacy policies, the nature of its cookies (which expire in 2038, something that has been banned for govt websites, and several years ago was unheard of for search engines), its apparently unlimited logging (associated with IP address and all available information) and data retention (e.g., for Gmail), and public statements all seem to suggest that it's setting itself up as a gold mine for any government agents who express interest in accessing information about anyone, such as email correspondence (whether the person has a Gmail account themself, or sends email to one), history of search terms used, etc. (eBay and PayPal, as you probably know, have already pitched themselves to police, government, and intelligence agencies as data mines to be freely accessed upon request.)

One alternative, for now, is, which allows you to get Google search results, ostensibly without Google knowing your IP address or sites you click-through to knowing what you terms searched for (as that information is omitted from the URL of any search results listing). Also, though they may well be just as corrupt, Yahoo and MSN now often return better search results than Google, which was not always the case.

I was surprised to learn much of this a few weeks ago, though Google's official motto, "don't be evil", has always struck me as naive at best, if not dishonest or deliberately misleading, given the wide perception among the geek/hacker communities, within the corporate media, and apparently among most web users (even many alternative researchers/journalists) that Google (and hence Gmail, etc.) is the epitome of everything good, or at least on higher moral ground than your average big, well-connected corporation. (And Google has its share of well-connected people on board.)

Best regards,
Marcus Macauley

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