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Caution Using New Google Desktop Search

by Shivaranjan on February 13, 2006

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Previously I had posted about the New Google Desktop search. Now I came across a website which says that it should be used with caution. So go through this article below.

Close-on-the-heels of alleged government interference in Google’s search data, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) – a leading US digital rights campaign group has warned users that the newly released Google Desktop 3 poses a risk to their privacy.

The feature named “Search Across Computers” allows people to search for items stored on multiple computers at the same time. Users need their Google accounts for the feature to work. When “Search Across Computers” is enabled, Google transfers users’ files to its own servers.

EFF in a statement issued on its website has urged consumers not to use this feature, saying that it will make their personal data vulnerable to subpoenas from the government and possibly private litigants, as also to hackers. The software lets Google keep personal data on its servers for up to 30 days before the data is deleted. The feature is optional and works with certain types of files including Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and PDF files.

The case has thrown the spotlight on the issue of personal information held by internet companies. Kevin Bankston, staff attorney, EFF, said that unless users configure Google Desktop very carefully, the search giant will end up having copies of users’ tax returns, love letters, financial and medical files, etc, which the government can demand with a mere subpoena rather than the normal search warrant.

A spokesperson for Google responded saying that the data is encrypted while in transit and on the server – where it resides only temporarily, and that the company automatically excludes password-protected files from being transferred.

Google Desktop 3 is currently available only for Windows XP or Windows 2000.

Source: Techtree

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