Google Working to Enhance User Privacy

As online privacy becomes an ever-more-pressing concern in modern life, Internet titan Google made an announcement yesterday which takes a few steps towards protecting its users privacy in the long term: after about 18 to 24 months, Google will anonymize its server logs so individually-identifying information about sessions, locations, serach terms, and other details can’t be reconstructed. The exception? Google will hang on to complete logs in any instances where it is required to do so by law. Once in effect, Google will apply the policy retroactively to existing logs.

The move comes some months after AOL, apparently inadvertently, published a sizable chunk of its search query logs for academic and private research use. Of course, the logs quickly leaked, and folks combing through them were able to quickly overcome AOL’s feeble anonymization and specifically identify several individuals from the log data. AOL pulled the information from its servers, but there’s no way to “unpublish” anything on the Internet, and the search logs are still floating around. Last year, Google was the only major search engine to fight Department of Justice requests for substantial amounts of log information and other user data the government wanted in order to make its case for upholding the Child Online Protection Act. AOL, MSN, and Yahoo all blithely complied with the DOJ data requests; Google fought the DOJ in court, with the result that substantially less information about its users was turned over to the government than was true for othr search engines.

However, privacy advocates might not want to celebrate Google’s announcement just yet: at the earliest, the new policy won’t go into effect until the end of 2007, and Google is quick to cite the difficulty of implementing its new initiative as a possible cause for delay. And, even if it gets underway, Google will still hold on to personally identifiable information for 18 to 24 months, which is the sort of timeframe governments are considering mandating as a legal minimum for Internet services to retain user data.

What sorts of data does Google collect? At a minimum, the data include search terms, the IP address you’re using when you connect to Google services, information stored in cookies (such as your preferences and data associated with any logins you may have to Google services, like GMail, etc.) along with the pages/ URLs you access within the Google network of sites and the date and time of your access.


Department of Justice asks judge to force Facebook to decrypt Messenger

The Department of Justice and Facebook are embroiled in a legal dispute over the future of Messenger's privacy policies. The government is demanding it decrypt Messaenger to allow for wiretapping of criminal suspects. Facebook is refusing…

Google confirms it still tracks users who turn Location History off

Google is tracking your location -- even when you tell it not to. According to an investigation by the Associated Press, Google services store location data, regardless of whether privacy settings claim otherwise.

8 easy ways for you to transfer photos from an Android phone to a PC

If you haven't already, you should back up your photos to a computer. Here's how to transfer photos from an Android phone to a PC using third-party services and a wealth of storage devices.

Should you OK Google, Hey Siri, or talk to Cortana? Here's the top voice assistant

In this virtual assistant comparison, we examine how they're becoming an important part of our lives. So how do Cortana, Google Assistant, and Siri stack up against one another when it comes to features and voice recognition?

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850 chip appears in benchmarks with improved performance

A benchmark for Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 850 processor show a less-than-stellar increase in multi-core performance over the previous 835 chip. Introduced in June, the Snapdragon 850 promises up to 30 percent better performance.

These 30 apps are absolutely essential for Mac lovers

There are literally hundreds of thousands of great software programs compatible with MacOS, but which should you download? Look no further than our list of the best Mac apps you can find for the latest MacOS and how they can help out your…

With Q#, Microsoft is throwing programmers the keys to quantum

Quantum computers aren’t yet practical, but Microsoft has already developed a programming language for them. Q# works inside Visual Studio, just like most other languages, and could offer a gateway into the weird world of quantum physics.

Apple’s rumored entry-level MacBook may appear in September starting at $1,200

Apple may reveal new products in September including an entry-level 13-inch MacBook based on Intel’s seventh-generation processors. Apple originally intended these units to rely on Intel’s now-delayed 10nm “Cannon Lake” processors.

AirDrop makes sending files to Apple devices easy -- here's how

Want to send files or photos to your friends when you're standing directly beside them? Instead of texting or emailing, why not learn how to use AirDrop? Here's everything you need to know about using AirDrop on both iOS and MacOS.

Stay safe on the web and save up to $70 with McAfee Total Protection

If you don't have some sort of protection on your phone, tablet, or computer, you're basically leaving the door open for anyone looking to do some cyber burgling. Protect yourself for a year with McAfee Total Protection for just $30.

PDF to JPG conversion is quick and easy using these simple methods

Converting file formats can be an absolute pain, but it doesn't have to be. We've put together a comprehensive guide on how to convert a PDF to JPG, no matter which operating system you're running.
Product Review

Recent production woes make the Eve V a worse buy than it once was

Our Eve V review looks at a crowdsourced detachable tablet that checks some boxes for its backers. Its delay in making it to the market holds it back in some areas, and Eve Technology is an unknown quantity.

Here's how to convert an MP4 to an MP3 file with online and offline tools

Sometimes you just want the audio without the video. In this guide, we'll show you how to convert an MP4 to an MP3 using web-based software and dedicated programs for both Windows and MacOS.

Crypto-intrigued? Here's how to buy Bitcoin for the first time

Is it time to purchase your first Bitcoin investment? If you're ready to get involved in the cryptocurrency, we'll walk you through how to pick an exchange, how to choose the right wallet, and how to buy Bitcoin the safe way!