Google Desktop Search Across Computers & Privacy Concerns

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Google Desktop Search Across Computers & Privacy Concerns

Google Desktop 3 offers a Search Across Computers function which allows for a registered Google Account user to search for information housed on computers which that user claims to have access to. In order to do so, Google Desktop 3 must be installed on all PC’s and individual computer file index information is transferred to Google’s servers where it will sit securely for 30 days.

In a mobile era where work is done at home, on the laptop and in the office, such access to files on multiple machines is demanded by today’s busy body. “Too many people are working across multiple computers now,” says Google’s Marissa Mayer. “This makes their lives easier.”

From Google Desktop : In order to share your indexed files between your computers, we first copy this content to Google Desktop servers located at Google. This is necessary, for example, if one of your computers is turned off or otherwise offline when new or updated items are indexed on another of your machines. We store this data temporarily on Google Desktop servers and automatically delete older flies, and your data is never accessible by anyone doing a Google search.

Here’s a list of the types of files Google Desktop 3 saves in its remote Google Desktop (only accessible by the registered user of those machines) index for searching :

* Web history (from Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape, and Mozilla)
* Microsoft Word documents
* Microsoft Excel spreadsheets
* Microsoft PowerPoint presentations
* PDF files and Text files in My Documents

The Electronic Frontier Foundation however feels that consumers should not use the new Google Desktop 3 due to privacy concerns.

“This Google product highlights a key privacy problem in the digital age,” said Cindy Cohn, EFF‘s Legal Director. “Many Internet innovations involve storing personal files on a service provider’s computer, but under outdated laws, consumers who want to use these new technologies have to surrender their privacy rights. If Google wants consumers to trust it to store copies of personal computer files, emails, search histories and chat logs, and still ‘not be evil,’ it should stand with EFF and demand that Congress update the privacy laws to better reflect life in the wired world.”

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • This is not a violation of privacy – because Google users who are THIS savy already Know the pros and cons of what they are doing – and do so voluntarily – they are not naive…

    also, if one is running Windows XP – you can just enable the Remote Access option or Enable a VPN and access any computer you chose on a network – so the only thing Google is doing is allowing access if a computer IS OFF LINE –

    also imagine if a laptop was stolen or a PC COMPLETELY DESTROYED – this service could be a LIFE SAVER!!!!!

  • jackic23

    I dont think this article is talking about hackers more so than the authorities obtaining your information through a legal order. What rights do you have concerning the privacy of your information and documents?

  • Well, you have the 4th amendment Jackic. More on topic though, google has a very good track record of protecting users data from the authorities, in china and so forth. If you’re super paranoid about your data being snooped don’t use google desktoop, but I think for most people it is a nonissue

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