Comments: And Google has crossed the line

WHOA. thank you for scaring me this time. hhho shit! hell, i don't even care if it only does exactly what it says it does, it's still extrreemely creepy if you're watching tv/online and the damn ads start reflecting that. it's just a disturbing idea. why would you even need it? if it's a commercial that's on tv, you certainly don't want another ad on your computer. if it's a show, besides just creeping me out, if i wanted to buy dvds or whatever else they advertise badly enough to buy it from an online ad, i probably would've gotten it off amazon or something already, or be planning and perfectly aware. i mean, i guess there are some instances where it might be sort of useful, do they really think it will be that profitable?

you know how when you do citations for papers, even leaving one out is considered plagerism, regardless of intent? (i know they slackened that rule this year, but it's still considered plagerism) well, isn't this kind of similar? "i don't care why you're recording audio of me and for how long, you're still spying". uhmmm yeah.

personally, i don't keep a microphone on when i'm not working on music, so as far as my own life goes i don't care. but i'll keep an eye on this, it's damn creepy.

Posted by suzi at September 12, 2006 09:44 AM

The fact of the matter is, even if google does release software like this, it's always going to be up to the user to install it. I agree that Google has crossed the line here but it's kinda moot if nobody buys the software or uses the tools, right? There are almost always preventative measures to be taken against this kind of thing. I'm more worried about the spyware implications of this, and the author of the article, at least in small part, seems to agree. But again, there WILL be a giant backlash against this software if and when it does get released. Still, although Google is definitely infringing greatly on civil liberties here, how consequential will it be if people like you and me just keep our microphones unplugged or off when we're not using them, or simply just not buy the software and run frequent virus scans?

Posted by Sam at September 15, 2006 11:49 PM

     This isn't new software Sam. This is a "feature" that is going to be implemented in all Google applications. Google earth, Google talk, Google desktop, and Google toolbar. Certainly I didn't use any of these myself because I didn't need them, but it remains that if I go to someone's house and I don't know anything about their computer they may very well have Google desktop and a mic plugged in and I could be recorded in that fashion.
     No shit if they released an application called "we're spying on you" no one would buy it (or even download it for free). But this isn't about buying. This is about spying through well-established free applications already vital to many people. It's not really something you can be sure of not having unless you just don't use any Google anything.
     It's interesting that you mentioned civil liberties, because this would not, in fact, be an infringment upon any of them. By downloading anything on google you agree to a privacy policy that basically reads "We can use your information for anything we want anywhere and sell it for any amount of money because once you use our products we own you." Clearly it's much more subtle than that, but many websites (such as and have already made complaints that Google's policy is so lax that they could basically be doing anything and get away with it. This is just me saying that what they've done is above and beyond what's sensible.

     "There are almost always preventative measures to be taken against this kind of thing. I'm more worried about the spyware implications of this [...]"
     I already said why there aren't really preventative measures (mainly because you can't know how everyone's computer is configured). It just won't happen. Too many people rely on google to a ridiculous degree. I don't really understand what implications this has for spyware (if any). If spyware companies wanted to, they could have been doing this for years, and we probably wouldn't have known. The only thing that would be worrying was if Google was releasing the source for this software or the method of using the "fingerprint" once it reaches Google. All of this information (if kept hidden) will keep spyware largely the same as always.

Posted by kit at September 16, 2006 04:20 AM

Ah. It's interesting, and I guess it makes sence that by downloading the update or whatever you would have to agree to some kind of license agreement that nobody usually reads, thereby letting google spy on you. I guess the main reason I'm not too fazed by this is that I've never relied heavily on google software, so this really may only affect me through my friends and family. And in addition, if google markets this "update" at all, I'm sure most, if not all of my friends would have an "OMG CREEPY" reaction like you and me, and simply get rid of google toolbar and trade in google talk for skype or something. My family is a different issue- I'll prolly have to warn them myself.

Posted by Sam at September 16, 2006 10:11 AM
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