Google Storing User Data: Controlling Privacy and Relevancy

There has been a bit of a dust-up in the world of online privacy following the release of a report that smacked Google for not doing enough to protect the privacy of their users. While the report seems to have some flaws, it’s one of Google’s responses to the report that has me the most worked up: Google plans to anonymize server logs after 18-24 months:
Recently, we took another important step to improve our privacy practices by announcing a new policy to anonymize our server logs after 18 to 24 months, becoming the first leading search company to publish a data retention policy. We also posted here to explain the factors that guided our decision to retain server log data for 18 to 24 months.
Matt Cutts, the Google search guru, also cheers this change on his personal blog.
In my opinion, 18-24 months is both too long and too short a time to store customer’s data. It’s too short for people who are willing to share whatever data they can with Google in order to improve their search experience. For example, Google knows something about the terms I used to search for homes and cars, but I don’t buy either of those items on a 18-24 month search cycle, so Google will have to re-learn how I personally search for this type of item every time I’m in the market.
18 months is clearly too long for people who value their privacy over anything else. While there are options to completely opt-out of data collection, there is a much better option that could be implemented by Google: give users control over their own data. If everyone can see what’s being collected about them, and choose a set of privacy criteria that feels right for them, everyone’s happy. Some will say, “keep everything” others will turn everything off, and a large group in the middle will set some limit on how much or how long they’re willing to share information with Google.
People trust Google. They really really do to the point of sharing more medical information with Google than they may feel comfortable sharing with their own doctor. With that comes with a lot of responsibility to protect user’s data in ways that users both understand and can control.
{Warning: Don’t trust Google! Internet searches for health and disease information are a real danger to our future jobs and credit! Consumers and patients should know that Internet searches for medical information are NOT PRIVATE. Most ‘health’ sites are run by corporations that collect, aggregate, data mine, and sell our search records that reveal what diseases and fears we have about ourselves, our families, and our friends. Google stores our searches for medical information—there is NO FEDERAL LAW to stop Google from selling our search records to insurers, employers, drug companies or any other private corporation that wants to discriminate against us and our families or sell us drugs or products. See the story below: Google does not even “anonymize” our searches for 18-24 months. How effective is “anonymization” anyway? If it is effective, why aren’t all our searches “anonymized” and encrypted immediately? It’s very clear that we need to take back our privacy and force Google and other Internet giants to stop destroying our fundamental right to privacy: the right to be let alone. New ‘smart’ technology called ‘consent management tools’ allows us to tell Google and all others who collect electronic data about us exactly when, where, and for what purposes they can or CANNOT use our e-data. We must have the right to opt-in before ANYONE uses our e-data. Anything else is criminal behavior—it’s called theft. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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