Google Provides Orkut Data
This weekend Google Inc. made the decision to go along with requests from the Brazilian goverment and provide them with data about Orkut users pertaining to racism, pedophilia and homophobia. Orkut, Google’s social-networking service, defines itself as an online community that connects people through a network of trusted friends. However, their latest actions makes one wonder if Orkut as a whole is to be trusted or if your membership information and activities will be stored and shared at a later time.
Google has refused similar requests in the past from U.S. authorities about handing over 1 million random pieces of user search data that was recorded over a one-week period. After initially rejecting the request, and dealing with the threat of being fined up to $23,000 a day, Google agreed to comply. However, this time Google is agreeing to share personally identifying information that people gave when they signed up for Orkut such as Internet Protocol addresses of users and e-mail addresses, as reported by the Washington Post.
During the beginning on 2006, Google’s general counsel, Nicole Wong said, “Google had lengthy discussions to try to resolve this [search data request from U.S. authorities], but were not able to and we intend to resist vigorously.” Now keep in mind that this request involved a million or so random search queries the U.S. government sought to utilize as a baseline for testing the usefulness of Web content filters, not personally identifiable information such as email addresses or Internet Protocol addresses. Now, 9 months later, Wong is quoted in a MediaPost article as saying, “What they’re asking for is not billions of pages,”…”In most cases, it’s relatively discrete–small and narrow.”
The MediaPost article continues by saying, ” If Google, AOL and other Internet companies are going to insist on saving information that potentially compromises people’s privacy, look for more and more companies to foil those services. Just as some Web users learned to delete cookies when they thought cookies put their security at risk, so will people decide to mask IP addresses or otherwise cover their online tracks.” This definitely raises some interesting discussion points about online end user privacy.