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iConference 2012: The ethical (re)design of the Google Books project

I’m currently in Toronto, Canada for iConference 2012, presented by the iSchools organization, a worldwide collective of 33 Information Schools. The theme of the conference is “Culture-Design-Society”, and I will be presenting a paper titled “The ethical (re)design of the Google Books project”. The paper is available in the ACM digital library; the abstract and […]

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New Course: The Search Engine Society

Special Topics in Information Science – The Search Engine Society:

Search engines have become the center of gravity of our contemporary information society, providing a powerful interface for accessing the vast amount of information available on the World Wide Web and beyond. The audacious mission of Google, for example, is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Attaining such a goal necessarily results in significant changes to the ways in which information is created, stored, retrieved, and used. This course will critically examine the nature of search engines and their role in our information society, and reveal the unique challenges they bring to bear on information institutions, information policy, and information ethics.

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Google's Privacy Principles Fall Short

To celebrate Data Privacy Day, Google has published its 5 guiding privacy principles. The principles are something every organization should commit to and strive for. The problem is, Google hasn’t adhered to them quite as closely as they’d want you to believe….

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Microsoft to Delete IP Addresses From Bing Search Logs after 6 months

Microsoft has fired a new salvo into the search privacy wars, announcing it will delete IP addresses from the Bing search engine logs after 6 months.

Microsoft has decided to take the lead in search privacy and agree to the European Union’s demand that data retention be cut to six months. Previously, Microsoft de-identified its search logs immediately, but didn’t purge the IP address until 18 months. Now, de-identification still takes place immediately, and the IP addresses are completely removed in 6 months.

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Google's Homepage Hypocrisy

[UPDATE: As of Jan 7, 2010, Google has now changed its homepage so the Nexus One ad fades in with the other content -- more below] Remember how hard we gad to fight to convince Google to include a link to its privacy policy on the Google.com homepage? Remember how Google argued “we do believe […]

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If You Trust Google’s Results, You Can Thank…“PigeonRank”?

Perhaps the greatest ethos surrounding Google’s success is its — and users’ — faith in the algorithm. Users trust Google, and have faith that the results provided are accurate and helpful. Sometimes, however, that trust can be misplaced. Recently, a student in one of my classes gave a presentation on Google, and proceeded to explain […]

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On Google's New Homepage, Privacy Fades Away

Google has announced a new “feature” to its homepage: upon loading, only the Google logo, the search box and the search buttons are visible. The links to additional products, advanced search function, and the privacy policy, only fade in if the user moves the mouse. This video shows it in action. Aesthetically, this isn’t without […]

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Google Adds Location History to Latitude: Feature Request, or Strategic Rollout?

When Google launched Google Latitude 9 months ago, they took steps to ensure users’ locational privacy was protected. Among the most important privacy-protecting features was the fact that Google didn’t keep a log of user locations on its servers; only the most recent locational ping was stored. Not even law enforcement could gain access to […]

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More on Cuil's Non-Privacy Policy

Yesterday I posted that Cuil, the supposed “Google-killer” search engine that once took pride in not keeping any logs of its users’ activities, had dramatically altered its privacy policy, effectively stripping it of the strong privacy-protecting language it originally contained. Since then, I’ve received 3 communications from Cuil. The first was a tweet promising an […]

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Google Shills for Droid on Homepage

Remember the hard battle fought to convince Google to include a link to its privacy policy on the Google.com homepage? Remember how Google argued “we do believe that having very limited text on our home page is important” and that it was pitched as some great sacrifice to include the word “privacy” and disrupt the […]

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