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Google Transparency

We want Google to provide a "one-stop" site where users can opt out of tracking across the company's platforms.

</don't be evil bullshit>


An Alternative History of Silicon Valley Disruption



Finding #1: Most people saw results unique to them, even when logged out and in private browsing mode.
Finding #2: Google included links for some participants that it did not include for others.
Finding #3: We saw significant variation within the News and Videos infoboxes.
Finding #4: Private browsing mode and being logged out of Google offered almost zero filter bubble protection.

a new study from DuckDuckGo, a Google rival, found that users saw very different results when searching for terms such as “gun control,” “immigration,” and “vaccinations,” even after controlling for time and location. One participant saw a National Rifle Association video at the top of the results page for “gun control,” another saw Wikipedia at the top, while a third got the NRA video but no result from Wikipedia in any of the first 10 links.
Over the years, there has been considerable discussion of Google's "filter bubble" problem. Put simply, it's the manipulation of your search results based on your personal data. In practice this means links are moved up or down or added to your Google search results, necessitating the filtering of other search results altogether. These editorialized results are informed by the personal information Google has on you (like your search, browsing, and purchase history), and puts you in a bubble based on what Google's algorithms think you're most likely to click on. The filter bubble is particularly pernicious when searching for political topics. That's because undecided and inquisitive voters turn to search engines to conduct basic research on candidates and issues in the critical time when they are forming their opinions on them.

2017 Google, democracy and the truth about internet search

An anecdote that I don't think has ever been shared: Google once allowed schools to force students into an unencrypted version of its search engine for filtering (through DNS). The Iranian government used this technique to remove search privacy for the entire country! ~ Collin Anderson @CDA

CONGRESS NEEDS TO ARREST Larry Page and Sergey Brin FOR PROMOTING HATE SPEECH USING autocomplete suggestions as part of their racist algorhthyms. and received the following response:
“Our search results are a reflection of the content across the web. This means that sometimes unpleasant portrayals of sensitive subject matter online can affect what search results appear for a given query. These results don't reflect Google's own opinions or beliefs - as a company, we strongly value a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures.”

the power and reach of these companies is only now seeping into the public consciousness.

Rebecca MacKinnon, director of the Ranking Digital Rights project at the New America Foundation, whether it was the recent furore over fake news that woke people up to the danger of ceding our rights as citizens to corporations.

Jonathan Albright, found 23,000 pages and 1.3m hyperlinks. “And Facebook is just the amplification device. When you look at it in 3D, it actually looks like a virus. And Facebook was just one of the hosts for the virus that helps it spread faster.

This is the equivalent of going into a library and asking a librarian about Judaism and being handed 10 books of hate. “I thought they stopped offering autocomplete suggestions for religions in 2011.” ~ Danny Sullivan
Tech-savvy rightwingers have been able to 'game' the algorithms of internet giants and create a new reality where Hitler is a good guy, Jews are evil and… Donald Trump becomes president.
Since 2008, Google has attempted to predict what question you might be asking and offers you a choice. And this is what it did. It offered me a choice of potential questions it thought I might want to ask: “are jews a race?”, “are jews white?”, “are jews christians?”, and finally, “are jews evil?”
This was Google's question. And this was Google's answer: Jews are evil. Because there, on my screen, was the proof: an entire page of results, nine out of 10 of which “confirm” this. The top result, from a site called Listovative, has the headline: “Top 10 Major Reasons Why People Hate Jews.” I click on it: “Jews today have taken over marketing, militia, medicinal, technological, media, industrial, cinema challenges etc and continue to face the worlds [sic] envy through unexplained success stories given their inglorious past and vermin like repression all over Europe.”

3/9/16 Google moved more than 10.7 billion euros ($11.7 billion) in international revenues to a Bermuda mailbox in 2014 through a series of tax structures known as a "Double Irish" and a "Dutch sandwich," the most recent year for which figures are available. Doing so saved Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company, some $2.4 billion in worldwide taxes that year, regulatory filings show.

Malta "the Panama of Europe". 2017
The Maltese prime minister's chief of staff and a prominent minister held secret companies in Panama. The corporate tax system was sanctioned by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and is in line with the EU's freedom of establishment. The government has been under siege since the Panama Papers revealed details of secret companies in Panama. Those revelations have cast doubt on its ability to push through anti-money laundering legislation. The so-called Individual Investor Programme scheme, which enabled Malta to raise millions by selling its passports to rich foreigners, is at the centre of an inquiry, after Mr Busuttil claimed he had evidence to prove the prime minister's chief of staff was receiving kickbacks off the scheme. 1/30/14 Malta has bowed to EU pressure over its controversial new passport scheme for non-EU nationals, saying applicants will now be required to spend at least a year in Malta in order to qualify. The new condition was announced by Malta in a joint statement with the European Commission. Applicants will still have to invest at least 1.15m euros (£944,000; $1.57m) in Malta to get a passport.
On May 19, a network of journalists released their findings after digging into more than 150,000 documents. Describing them as the "Malta Files", the group said they showed how international companies were taking advantage of the Maltese tax system. They also claimed Malta had become a target for firms linked to the Italian mafia and Russian loan sharks.
Malta currently holds the presidency of the European Union, so the allegations are all the more sensitive. And they come at the tail end of a bitter election campaign that has seen the island's Labour government fending off serious claims of corruption, ahead of a vote on 3 June. What makes Malta so attractive? Malta operates a tax system where companies pay the lowest tax on profits in the EU. While local businesses must pay 35% on profits, international corporations profit from a corporation tax rate of as little as 5%, thanks to a complex system where shareholders can receive a tax refund of up to six-sevenths of their tax paid in Malta. The average rate in the EU is around 22%. Several EU countries say such a system damages their budgets and reveals a weakness in the EU, which allows the 28 member states sovereign rights over their taxation. According to a report commissioned by Green MEPs in the European Parliament, Malta helped multinationals avoid paying €14bn (£12bn;$15.6bn) in taxes between 2012 and 2015, which would have gone to other EU countries.

Your Google Maps Timeline stores a year's worth of information about the routes you've traveled. Did you mean to give up all that data? People respond more favorably to targeted ads when they have the ability to control their privacy settings. But do we feel that we have that control? We want to control our personal data and how it is used. Retailers can also track us through the partner apps on the phone.

the intersection point between US global power and social media - Eric Schmidt might not have been an emissary of Google alone. Whether officially or not, he had been keeping some company that placed him very close to Washington, DC, including a well-documented relationship with President Obama. Not only had Hillary Clinton's people known that Eric Schmidt's partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel. While WikiLeaks had been deeply involved in publishing the inner archive of the US State Department, the US State Department had, in effect, snuck into the WikiLeaks command center and hit me up for a free lunch. Two years later, in the wake of his early 2013 visits to China, North Korea, and Burma, it would come to be appreciated that the chairman of Google might be conducting, in one way or another, “back-channel diplomacy” for Washington. The last forty years has seen a huge proliferation of think tanks and political NGOs whose purpose, beneath all the verbiage, is to execute political agendas by proxy. A toxic piñata of attendees: US officials, telecom magnates, security consultants, finance capitalists, and foreign-policy tech vultures like Alec Ross (Cohen's twin at the State Department).33 At the hard core are the arms contractors and career military: active US Cyber Command chieftains, and even the admiral responsible for all US military operations in Latin America from 2006 to 2009. Tying up the package are Jared Cohen and the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt.

What Happens to Your Data?


Why Privacy Matters

What about Privacy for K12 Students?


Your Photos Might Be Getting Uploaded On Google Without Your Knowledge




What Does Google Store About Me?

To help make the whole process more transparent, Google has unveiled another product in its vast empire: Google Dashboard. Dashboard is a helpful tracker that sums up the information Google has collected about your profile in one place. To view your Google Dashboard, visit You will need to re-enter your password even if you are currently signed in to a Google account.

Here's how to opt-out of Google's third-party email address lists ad targeting service
You can do this by switching off "Ads based on your interests" on the Google ad settings page (for logged-in Google users) at: you direct control over how your interests are (or are not) used when displaying ads via Google-associated sites. Turn off interest-based ad preferences, this will also turn off the use of these third-party email address lists for your logged in account.

4/15/15 All sent and received e-mails in Gmail will be analyzed, says Google The new text might be a reaction to the e-mail scanning lawsuit. E-mail users brought the lawsuit against Google in 2013, alleging that the company was violating wiretapping laws by scanning the content of e-mails. The plaintiffs' complaints vary, but some of the cases include people who sent their e-mails to Gmail users from non-Gmail accounts and nonetheless had their content scanned.

opting out
and taking control


Opting out and taking control

  1. The Google provides detailed information about how each type of data is used along with links to opt out of any specific areas.
  2. Google's Activity controls page for a simple single-page list of on-off toggles.
  3. Clean up your history for anything that Google has been tracking: click the three-dot icon in its upper-right corner and choosing Delete
  4. Android device open the main system settings and selecting Google (or, if you're on an older device, looking for the standalone Google Settings app) and then tapping "Personal info & privacy."
  5. How to erase your online History. #Alexa and #Google Home Records What You Say.
    A full history of your voice commands with any Google product -- including actual audio recordings go to Voice and Audio Section of My Activity

Turn off location services



Go ahead, says Google, we'll still track you
Why does Google Play need constant GPS anyway?
This article may be confusing two technologies. It is highly likely that no GPS, cell-tower, of Wi-Fi SSID location service at all was involve when when the mentioned researcher walked into a McDonalds an his phone prompted him to download a Mickey-D's App. Rather, Google, and others, are encouraging companies to deploy Bluetooth based "beacons" in their stores. The location those beacons is fixed and known. Phones listen to the beacon signals. Each beacon is named. The phone contacts Google or Apple to resolve the beacon's name into an action, such as prompting the user to download a store app. This of course, means that your location is known, and is provided to Google (or Apple or ..), but the location information comes from proximity to the beacon, not from any GPS or cell-tower based location service. (This is not to say that these beacons could form yet another source of location information for the location services in the phone.)

Google has access to NHS patient data.
Apparently that deal does not have regulatory approval - and Google says such approval is not necessary.
“Under section 251 of the NHS Act 2006, sharing identifiable health data requires the consent of patients whose data is being shared. Where that consent cannot reasonably be given in practice - in large research projects, for example - those handling the data must go through an ethical approval process via the Confidentiality Advisory Group that culminates with consent being given on patients' behalf by the UK Secretary of State for Health - currently Jeremy Hunt. DeepMind does not appear in the Health Research Authority database of approved applications, which is updated every two weeks. Google has said that its activities are not bound by such a requirement since patient consent for what it is doing is implied.” It seems to me that for some things you should not settle for “implied.”

HALF OF ALL CLASSROOM COMPUTERS ARE NOW CHROMEBOOKS a complaint filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Google has been “collecting and data mining school children's personal information, including their Internet searches,” which is not only creepy, but also contrary to previous promises. “Despite publicly promising not to,” the EFF noted, Google mines students' browsing data and other information, and uses it for the company's own purposes.” EFF FILES FTC COMPLAINT

12/1/15 Google Leads In Misleading Privacy
Here's the problem... it is completely and utterly misleading. When I dug deeper into the policies it was found that as long as Google doesn't personally identify you, Google can share with advertisers 100% of your digital activity, connect it with the places you visit and the purchases you make in the real world. Oh, and sorry you cannot opt out. Check out Google's privacy page and their ads settings The EFF's complaint is based upon their examination of both Google's Chromebook and Google Apps for Education, a collection of educational software that numerous schools throughout the U.S. use. According to the watchdog group, “While Google does not use student data for targeted advertising within a subset of Google sites, EFF complaint found that Google's 'Sync' feature for the Chrome browser is enabled by default on Chromebooks sold to schools.” Google has previously been tripped up by signing industry pledges, which are legally binding in the U.S. In 2012, Google paid $22.5 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission complaint that it misrepresented how it tracked Web users with cookies, or small lines of software code.


Google Begins Allowing Marketers to Target Advertising Using Email Addresses
For example, say a consumer shares her email address with a clothing retailer when purchasing items in-store. The retailer can then upload that address to Google to identify her when she's using Google search or YouTube, and to target search or video ads to her for similar or complementary products, provided she signed in to Google with the same email address. By tapping into email addresses, as both Facebook and Twitter do with their own respective products, Google can take higher cuts of the more costly and better targeted ads being served even from within the Gmail and YouTube apps on mobile devices. Google calls Customer Match a “privacy-safe” product, but that may not quell the concern of users who feel that advertisers are getting even more specific with their ad targeting.

11/16/14 Google's secret NSA alliance:
The terrifying deals between Silicon Valley and the security state. Inside the high-level, complicated deals -- and the rise of a virtually unchecked surveillance power
In mid-December 2009, engineers at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, began to suspect that hackers in China had obtained access to private Gmail accounts, including those used by Chinese human rights activists opposed to the government in Beijing. Like a lot of large, well-known Internet companies, Google and its users were frequently targeted by cyber spies and criminals. But when the engineers looked more closely, they discovered that this was no ordinary hacking campaign.

8/4/14 Google scans your emails for child porn and reports to law enforcement when it finds same. Google flagged images of child abuse found in his GMail account to authorities, according to reports, revealing that the search giant is quietly but methodically watching our email activity for illegal images.




Google has cleverly planted dozens of their people in White House, Downing St, other governments. Most brilliant new lobbying effort yet. ~ Rupert Murdoch

Google's security team gives firms 90 days to fix flaws before they go public. Unless you complain to Google's CEO.

Facebook and Google Have to Open Up - Bloomberg Quint
The WPP boss has railed against the opacity of Facebook and Google for years, calling for independent checks on the effectiveness of advertising on the sites. So when Facebook said on Thursday that it had overestimated the average viewing time for video ads on the social network for the past two years, the veteran ad man was proven right. This matters because big brands are pouring ad dollars online, with nearly half of spending going to Google and Facebook alone -- as the chart below shows. Not only do the likes of Unilever and P&G want to make sure their dollars aren't going to waste, they want to know they're reaching the right people.

3/19/15 Details from an FTC investigation into Google on anti-trust accusations have emerged, suggesting the search giant specifically worked to keep competitors out of its top results. Google was deliberately blacklisting competing shopping sites.

Google Analytics Unique Visitor language. Visitors are now users.
Usually, the new and returning visitor reports are reporting on how many sessions are a new visitor versus a returning visitor. You might just want to think of the vocabulary instead of New Visitor and Return Visitor, as "Session with a new user" and "Session with a return user."

The BBC has published a list of stories removed from Google's search results because of the “right to be forgotten”. It'll be updated regularly. Neil McIntosh was careful to note in his blog that the BBC does not know, or publish details about who requested the story be removed on Google.”

Google public policy - changing-our-privacy-policies-
We still won't sell your personal information TO ADVERTISERS" is an interestingly specific claim. Would you be willing to provide more information about the organizations with which Google DOES share our information?
Specifically, who are the "affiliated companies" and "other trusted businesses" your refer to in the information sharing section of your privacy policy? Have any of them provided compensation to Google in return for access to our data? And what, exactly, in a "legal process or enforceable governmental request"? How does it differ from an actual cort order?



Google Algorithm Change History
Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500-600 times. While most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out a "major" algorithmic update (such as Google Panda and Google Penguin) that affects search results in significant ways. For search marketers, knowing the dates of these Google updates can help explain changes in rankings and organic website traffic and ultimately improve search engine optimization. Below, we've listed the major algorithmic changes that have had the biggest impact on search.



Google Spectrum Database

Google has now upgraded its patent search

The new Google Patents helps users find non-patent prior art by cataloguing it, using the same scheme that applies to patents. We've trained a machine classification model to classify everything found in Google Scholar using Cooperative Patent Classification codes. Now users can search for “autonomous vehicles” or “email encryption” and find prior art across patents, technical journals, scientific books, and more.

We've also simplified the interface, giving users one location for all patent-related searching and intuitive search fields. And thanks to Google Translate, users can search for foreign patent documents using English keywords. May 2015 on the PTO's Patent Quality Initiative, we hope this tool will make patent examination more efficient and help stop bad patents from issuing which would be good for innovation and benefit the public.

Need To Know: Mean life span of high-profile Google projects: 4 years

Google's Transparency Report



2013 Google's Transparency Report, which lists the Internet sites receiving the most notices from studios, trade associations and software and game publishers to remove copyrighted works. Whenever an ad appears on one of these leading pirate sites, the lab uses software to obtain the name of the ad network. The list of ad networks includes Openx, a Pasadena company that was backed by AOL Ventures and describes itself as a leader in digital and mobile ad technology; Google and its advertising platform, DoubleClick; Yahoo and its ad exchange, Right Media; and Quantcast, a San Francisco firm that also places ads on sites owned by such major media companies as NBCUniversal and ...
href=" Viacom,0,2960606.story

2013 Google+ is Google - There's No Avoiding Google+
Google began requiring people who want to post their reviews of restaurants or other businesses to use their Google+ profiles to do so. The same rule applies for reviews of smartphone software "apps," as well as physical goods, obtained through Google. Links to Google+ also appear in Google search-engine results involving people and brands that have set up a Google+ account. Both Facebook and Google make the vast bulk of their revenue from selling ads. But Facebook has something Google wants: Facebook can tie people's online activities to their real names, and it also knows who those people's friends are. Marketers say Google has told them that closer integration of Google+ across its many properties will allow Google to obtain this kind of information and target people with more relevant (and therefore, more profitable) ads.Users' Google+ profile pages typically include their real names, and they can add other details such as their hometowns. By default, the page is public and will turn up in a Google search. It is possible, however, to change a setting so that the page doesn't show up in search results. There is also a way for people to disable or delete their Google+ accounts.
Google derives about 95% of its more than $40 billion in annual revenue, excluding its new Motorola phone-making unit, "click-through rates"—the rates at which Google search users click on ads—have increased for his clients' ads when they include information from Google+, such as the number of people who have recommended a brand by clicking the +1 button on the brand's Google+ page. "In the majority of cases, lift in click-through rates ranged from 2% to 15%," he says.

2012 Google sees 'alarming' level of government censorship.
Web giant says that in the past six months it received more than 1,000 requests from government officials for the removal of content. It complied with more than half of them.

Google has revealed it removed about 640 videos from YouTube

that allegedly promoted terrorism over the second half of 2011 after complaints from the UK's Association of Chief Police Officers. The news was contained in its latest Transparency Report which discloses requests by international authorities to remove or hand over material.

Paul Alan Levy --
Public Citizen Litigation Group 1600 - 20th Street, NW
(202) 588-1000
"Google, Facebook and blocking offensive content 9/1412
Readers might be interested in this comparison of recent content removals or blocking by Facebook and Google, and discussion of some of the implicated policies.
Two voluntary takedowns of user-generated have been in the news lately, spurring some reflections, on the one hand, about the dangers of becoming overly dependent on certain platforms for free expression, and about how online service providers exercise their discretion under section 230 to remove material even though the providers cannot be held legally responsible for the hosting.

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) chairwoman of the Energy and Commerce Committee's Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade subcommittee, has jurisdiction over data privacy issues. Concern over the users' ability to control the information they share with Google. "The concern of Congress is how much active participation does a user have to do to protect their own privacy," she said.

Google is now in the PNR hosting business
In accordance with the US Secure Flight rules, the Google CRS for Cape Air must also have a bi-directional connection to the US Transportation Security Administration to send passenger data to the TSA and receive permission-to-board (”cleared”) fly/no-fly messages in response. This is, so far as we can tell, an unprecedented level of direct connection between Google's databases and any government agency. Has Google complied with EU law? Probably not, but we can't tell. We invite Google to allow independent verification of how it has with EU rules. There are also interesting questions about what profiling and dat mining capabilities are built into Google's CRS system. “Legacy” CRSs store PNRs in flat files in which PNRs for different trips by the same traveler can be difficult to link. But a report on the new Google CRS in the online trade journal Tnooz says it “enables … call center agents 'to see customers' history,' including past trips and upcoming flights, 'right in front of them'.”

Google's own Transparency Report, especially the section that addresses the number of governmental requests to Google for user data, and its response.
By way of example, between January and June 2011, Google received 5,950 user data requests, covering 11,057 users and/or accounts, from the U.S. government, and (according to Google's own reporting) it “fully or partially complied with” 93% of those requests. (The figures from the data removal request chart at are smaller but perhaps more troubling.)
The other concern regarding Google's information collection practice is that people may not realize how many inbound channels Google has. Under Google's current privacy policy, it maintains separate privacy statements for its standalone products, including:

+1 Button
Chrome Frame
Google Music
Google Notebook
Google TV
Google Web Toolkit
Location Service in Firefox
Safe Browsing
Translator Toolkit
Web Accelerator
Web History

The next version of the policy (the one getting all the attention) no longer explicitly breaks out the separate products, but nor does it list them to remind users of the numerous Google products (many not branded as such). It is difficult to accept that Google users are truly providing informed consent to all of the company's information collection, given the sheer volume and complexity of the disclosures.
Consumers are asked to trade convenience for personal information privacy all the time. The question, though, is how knowingly we are doing so. When it comes to Google, I am far from convinced that any sizable portion of its users understand how much of their information, through how many channels, Google is collecting in exchange for "convenience."


TYPOSQUATTING Harvard Finds Typos Gives Google 500 Million a Year Typo domains that feature only ads, no other links, have higher click-through and conversion rates, suggesting that the half-billion estimate may be too low. The full study of typosquatting and its implications found no relationship between the difficulty of spelling a word and the prevalence of typo sites, but did determine that "high PPC prices spur typosquatting registrations in the corresponding categories." Still, the study emphasizes "the feasibility of significantly reducing typosquatting" due to its high concentration among specific IDs and servers: nearly 76% of typosquatting sites were registered to the same 10 advertiser IDs.



What Google does with all the data it collects (pdf)



  • Google Details Electricity Usage of Its Data Centers
    Google released its most closely guarded secrets: how much electricity its enormous computing facilities consume. Approximately 12.5 million watts of Google's 260-million-watt total can be accounted for by searches, the company's bread-and-butter service.
    Its data centers continuously drew almost 260 million watts — about a quarter of the output of a nuclear power plant — to run Google searches, YouTube views, Gmail messaging and display ads on all those services around the world. over a billion searches a day and numerous other downloads and queries, and it calculates that the average energy consumption for a typical user is small, about 180 watt-hours a month, or the equivalent of running a 60-watt light bulb for three hours. figures did not include the electricity drawn by the personal computers, tablets and iPhones that use information from Google's data centers. Google also estimated that its total carbon emissions for 2010 were just under 1.5 million metric tons, with most of that attributable to carbon fuels that provide electricity for the data centers. In part because of special arrangements the company has made to purchase electricity from wind farms, Google says that 25 percent of its energy is supplied by renewable fuels, and estimates that it will reach 30 percent in 2011.

tags: google trust, click fraud, page rank, robot exclusion, search, search operators, how to remove personal information, ethics, hacking

Can a machine think?
"You insist that there is something a machine cannot do. If you will tell me precisely what it is that a machine cannot do, then I can always make a machine which will do just that" ~ J. von Neumann 1948 Princeton, NJ