Most people know I'm a Google devotee. I live by Gmail, I introduce web design to my students with Blogspot, I introduce Web 2.0 to my students with Google Apps. I love Google. The interface is spiffy, the search results are good, and it is chock full of awesome free stuff. So I've taken the Google privacy furor in the last few days with a grain of salt. I've maintained for some time that privacy is an illusion anyway, and for those of us in Ed Tech, privacy is not something we can reasonably expect.
Most of us answer to taxpayers and therefore have quite an obligation to use Internet resources (for which they pay) in ways that don't raise any eyebrows. If my users are searching for porn on school property with school Internet connections, then they deserve to get nailed.
Not that this is terribly likely for Google users. Sure, Google saves your search history. They have to make money on something if we would like them to continue providing us with new and innovative services like Sketchup, Google Apps, and Gmail. Nobody is better at turning your search strings into cash than Google. However, we have to keep this in perspective.
As fellow ZDNet blogger, Garett Rogers, points out, regarding the recent Privacy International ranking of search engines,
"It’s funny how [Privacy International] know so much about their horrible practices when they even admit Google didn’t respond to their request for information. Certainly that means their practices are the worst on the internet. "
We must also remember that every other company involved in search also stores your search information. None of them happen to be as good at monetizing it as Google, but they all store it. Again, Garett Rogers reminds us that just under a year ago, AOL accidentally released 20 million queries from its users on the Internet.
Your ISP keeps track of where you go. The sites you visit keep track of who you are. Google stores your search strings. Maybe this matters to you at home, but in education, who cares? crazystrippokerteens.com should be blocked by your content filter anyway.