Beware: Google cloud platform exposed

Google CEO Eric Schmidt proudly announced his Q1 2007 stellar earnings report to Wall Street yesterday, underscoring how Google is growing its platform, big time.  What is that platform?
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor
Google CEO Eric Schmidt proudly announced his Q1 2007 stellar earnings report to Wall Street yesterday, underscoring how Google is growing its platform, big time. 

What is that platform? It is the global, Google cloud. The Googley “cloud computing and advertising go hand-in-hand,” Google-centric, new multi-billion dollar Web-based business paradigm. 

Schmidt is extremely confident in the robust Google platform, saying at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference last month:

Why would a rational person put personal information anywhere else but the (Google) cloud, given risks of losing and/or damaging a mobile device or PC?

Of course, rational people and companies are rightly concerned about housing their information in the Google cloud due to risks concerning data integrity, security, privacy, access, control and manipulation. 

In fact, as use of the Google platform grows, along with Google’s ambitions, so do the data and privacy risks inherent to reliance on the Google cloud.

In Google, YouTube double down on user tracking: DoubleClick next up I discuss the latest Google search for controlling all the world’s personal information: Google “Web History.” 

"Which sites do you visit frequently? How many searches did you do between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.?” Google wants to know, and will, in perpetuity.

In typical Google not so privacy fashion, Google disclaims its own privacy policy for “Web History”! 

1) Google on user control of personal histories: You can choose to stop storing your web activity in Web History either temporarily or permanently, or remove items. If you remove items, they will be removed from the service and will not be used to improve your search experience.

2) Google on Google control of users’ personal histories: Google also maintains a separate logs system for auditing purposes.

In other Google words, once users’ personal information on Google servers, always users’ personal information on Google’s servers.

What are the implications for reliance on the Google cloud in the real world?


In Google Office enterprise security snafu earlier this week I discussed how sensitive information about private corporate activities is being shared, unwittingly or not, via company postings within the Google Calendar application.


The Google Calendar team was nevertheless quick to defend its belief in the safety and integrity of its application, as I presented Wednesday in Google to Calendar users: Read the instructions.


Google Calendar application collaborator Calgoo cites its own engineers' use of Google-Calgoo as Google evidence:

Google Calendar is very useful tool. Like all tools it is important to learn how to
use them properly. Google Calendar settings are easy to use and we here at the Calgoo office default our business calendars to private. That way there is a number of steps one must go through to make a calendar public, and thus very hard to do by accident.
Google did not cause an information leak - there was just a problem with the user not knowing how to use the settings.

The Google cloud-dependent Calgoo business model:

Calgoo uses the Google Calendar to store your calendars. Google’s incredible storage and security means your calendar information is kept private and safe and always available to you online.

Are non-power users not enjoying "private and safe" Google Calendar usage, however?

Executive Googlers apparently realize that blaming Google users is not the best strategy for reinforcing confidence in the Google Cloud. 

Greg Badros, Google engineering director, acknowledges that while “We wanted to make the settings as easy as possible to make a calendar public…We are working on improving the messaging there,” as cited by Jaikumar Vijayan, Computerworld.

Google cannot totally prevent users “from shooting themselves in the foot around this,” Badros offered though.

No, but users can, by not relying on the Google cloud.

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