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Questions for Google

Kim Hart

The ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Google's chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt yesterday, posing some rather pointed questions about the proposed merger of Google and DoubleClick.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and other Republican members of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee first expressed concern about the deal last month, citing privacy issues. Barton said he wondered "if the intentional collection and coordination of all that personal data about us is such a good idea."

In his letter, Barton recalled a meeting with Schmidt that occurred last month, during which Schmidt offered his staff's assistance in providing information about Google's targeted advertising practices. But Barton said that when he tried to take him up on the offer by requesting that two Hill staffers visit Mountain View, Google officials "deemed the dates inconvenient, and the request was denied."

"Since then, all efforts to reach a mutually agreeable time have been rebuffed, and it begins to seem that no date for a visit is sufficiently convenient for Google. Your warm initial invitation followed by Google's chilly response to a proposed visit by Committee counsels is disconcerting," Barton wrote.

He then listed 24 detailed questions about how Google retains and uses personal data and specifics about the company's privacy policy. Barton also wants to know more about how Google tracks cookies and how it defines behavioral targeting. He asked the company to respond by next Tuesday.

By Kim Hart  |  December 13, 2007; 5:45 AM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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just purchased [at a major discount -- thanks Amazon 'used' books -- they are usually store returns and NOT used at all] Beginning Ubuntu Linux by Keir Thomas.

Store list price is $39.99, but I paid only $18.45 plus $3.99 shipping or $22.44 and the book is barn spanking new and has a double side CD. Side A contains Ubuntu 6.10 codename Edgy Eft. Side B contains the previous version of Ubuntu 6.06.1 LTS codenamed Dapper Drake.

The author claims for those who 'just want to try out Ubuntu, it can be run [more slowly] from the DVD drive in your machine.

When ordering 'Used' books from Amazon, there are always multiple vendors located thruout the USA. The used price can vary but all vendors are 'satisfaction rated' by Amazon based on feedback from purchasers. It is important to read the last line, because in that line if it says [for example] 'may have return mark,' all that is is a magic marker line on the bottom edge of the pages themselves and it is one way of marking a return from a bookstore. The book will be in absolutely new condition. If, on the other hand, that line says 'some highlighting,' that is most likely a used college text.

Prices usually vary significantly and a more expensive 'used book,' does NOT mean a book in better condition, strange as that may seem.

Order from a vendor that is ranked in the 90% and up group and you will be quite happy with the purchase. I usually order from vendors on the East coast, but either way, by REGULAR MAIL, I always get the book within a week and I have yet to get a lemon. Thanks Amazon.

Posted by: brucerealtor | December 13, 2007 9:11 AM

I have a question for Google.

I am a GMail user.

I would like to know why whenever I am typing a e-mail to someone my 'transmission indication' blue bar at the bottom right of the screen appears to be sending, often several times during my typing.

Is this a virus that Kaspersky anti-virus has somehow missed, spyware that Spyware Doctor and Ad-Aware Pro has missed, or is this information being sent back to Google and if the later, why is Google interested in the CONTENT of my e-mails ???

Also this doesn't happen all the time and with all e-mails, but I am especially noticing it becoming active in e-mails to ArtSpitzer with the ACLU and communications involving a DC police officer who is now serving time in jail -- WRONGFULLY, I might point out.

I know about electronic counter-measures for audio, but am 'somewhat' ignorant about computer counter-measures, etc. Could this be something like a bot that got put on my machine for surveillance purposes and if so, are anti-virus and anti-spyware companies cooperating in not removing such bots ???


Posted by: | December 13, 2007 9:24 AM

Google is interested in the content of your emails so they can show you and the people you communicate with ads that they think you will be interested in.

Maybe there's some nefarious purpose that no one knows about, but my understanding is that the main reason is to generate advertising revenue from gmail users.

Posted by: danny | December 13, 2007 10:36 AM

Ummm, are you using the web-based interface to send the email? If so, wouldn't you EXPECT this information to be sent to Google's servers so that they can deliver the email?

The reason it happens periodically, even when you have not finished sending the email, is likely due to the auto-save feature... if the browser crashes or your computer crashes, you can return to your partially saved email and continue where you last left off. It could also have to do with some occasional checks on their servers to see if you have new mail.

Posted by: duh | December 13, 2007 11:43 AM

Google does install spybots on your systems if you use G-mail, their search engine, etc. Antivirus does not pick them up. If you watch your port traffic you can see them. We found this shortly after installing a Google Search appliance into our company's network. If you delete them or block the ports, Google will not work.

Bottom line...Don't use Google or be prepared to be spied upon.

Posted by: Sierra | December 13, 2007 1:59 PM

I believe that Google, like several other major online players, is dragging its feet when it comes to clear cut definitions that can make them liable or look user-unfriendly in the public light. I'm sure one can find clues of these where-abouts intentions by breaking out their legalese in their "accept" terms for each of all their services.
Our reactionary government continues its great tradition of following up with technology long after it's deployed. Unfortunately, modern technologies have very short gestation cycles, so their benefits, as well as their detriments, are viewed from the rear view mirror of it's promoters and with a surprise, daze and confused look by "regulators"

Posted by: Richard | December 13, 2007 6:19 PM

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