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Re: AT&T the Web Spy? -- And Their Big Google Lie
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 2008 15:59:03 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Bob Poortinga" <ip () k9sql us>
Date: August 15, 2008 2:34:31 PM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: Re: [IP] AT&T the Web Spy? -- And Their Big Google Lie

This is a reply to an IP posting for IP.

From: Lauren Weinstein <lauren () vortex com>
Date: August 14, 2008 6:28:16 PM EDT
Subject: AT&T the Web Spy? -- And Their Big Google Lie

"Advertising network operators such as Google have evolved beyond
merely tracking consumer Web surfing activity on sites for which
they have a direct ad-serving relationship. They now have the
ability to observe a user's entire Web browsing experience at a
granular level."
   -- Dorothy Attwood, AT&T senior vice president for public policy

That second sentence is the kicker -- and is simply untrue.  But
it's crucial to AT&T's arguments that people *believe* it to be

Google does collect a great deal of data across their affiliated
networks, via IP addresses, cookies (when enabled by users), and
presumably URL referers as well.  But this only includes sites
somehow affiliated with the Google networks, and/or users who have
installed various Google tools and enabled associated site reporting
features.  But it does *not* otherwise include all visited Web
sites.  Not by a long shot.

If you are limiting your observation to Google's servers only, this is true.
However, millions of Internet users have installed Google Toolbar
in their browsers.  Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer is a Browser
Helper Object (BHO) and, as such it has access to every URL and web
page that the browser displays.  I am unsure as how much of this
data is uploaded to Google, but, based on my personal knowledge and
experience, the data the Toolbar provides is used by Google to index pages which have no external links. This is how Google indexes the "hidden" web.

As anyone done any research which analyzes the Google Toolbar?

Bob Poortinga K9SQL
Bloomington, IN US

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