Google: Ethical or Evil? Essay

3447 Words Aug 5th, 2008 14 Pages
Google is a company that was conceptualized in a dorm room by two Stanford University college students in 1996 (Arnold, 2005, p. 1) and has morphed into one of the greatest technological powerhouses in operation today. What began as merely a means to analyze and categorize Web sites according to their relevance has developed into a vast library of widely utilized resources, including email servicing, calendaring, instant messaging and photo editing, just to reference a few. Recent statistics collected by SearchEngineWatch.com reflects that of the 10 billion searches performed within the United States during the month of February, 2008, an impressive 5.9 billion of them were executed by Google (Burns, 2008). Rated as Fortune Magazine’s …show more content…
Even though the images or comments are posted to the publicly accessible Internet, most do not consider the reality that the use of those images or comments, meant to be shared with family or friends, are out of their control when the upload is complete.

An inherent privacy issue related to Google’s practices is associated with its most basic function – the search. The first time a computer is used to access Google’s website, a cookie is placed on the system’s hard drive which serves as a unique identifier, allowing Google to monitor the search history from that machine. These cookies, according to Google, grant them the ability to store user preferences while tracking trends (i.e. – how people search) (Google Privacy Policy, ¶6). Collected information is stored on server logs and includes such data as IP address, date and time of the search, browser type and browser language (Google Privacy Policy, ¶7). They can also track which links a user selects on a given page and the path that they follow. Google is forthcoming with their placement of cookies (Google Privacy Policy, ¶ 6), but is very unclear about the expiration date of the cookie or how long log files are retained.

The significance of installing a cookie that assigns a unique identifier to each system is that Google is given the ability to read, identify and record every action a users takes when using Google products. The data collected by these cookies, combined

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