Google blacklists journalists for Googling?
August 7, 2005 10:36 PM   Subscribe

Google blacklists CNET reporters? An article about privacy issues that highlighted the potential for abuse if logs of search terms linked with IP addresses are combined by search companies with address and phone data, angered Google CEO Eric Schmidt enough to blacklist CNET reporters for a year, at least according to the bottom of this CNET story. The article begins with information about Schmidt found via Google searches, and goes on to "question Google's ability to adequately balance the heavy burden of safeguarding consumer privacy rights with the pull toward intermingling and mining data for ever more lucrative targeted advertising."
posted by mediareport (18 comments total)
It's unclear what specifically may (I say may) have caused the shutout, but it's worth noting the correction at the bottom of the first page of CNET's privacy story as a possible factor, as well as the personal info about Schmidt, which seems to be the leading contender for Gary at the SearchEngineWatch blog. Others think it might simply be anger at the red flags the article raises.

If anyone knows of an official response from Google on this one, please post.
posted by mediareport at 10:42 PM on August 7, 2005

The linking of search term logs and IP has been the one thing about Google that has bothered me the most. If they would openly and simply allow opting out of this logging, and deletion of logs at one's own whim, it might not be such a bad thing.

As it stands, a gun is no less dangerous in the hands of a saint than in the hands of a thug. If Google wants to remain the good guy, they need to be wary of their potential to be the bad guy.
posted by Saydur at 10:50 PM on August 7, 2005

If anyone knows of an official response from Google on this one, please post.

In the NYT:
In an instant-message interview, [Google PR director David] Krane said, "You can put us down for a 'no comment.' "
posted by Vidiot at 11:41 PM on August 7, 2005

Thanks for that, Vidiot.

The linking of search term logs and IP has been the one thing about Google that has bothered me the most.

The part that's bugged me, Saydur, is that while Google says it won't sell "personally identifying information" without your permission, the company's privacy policy considers your computer's IP address to be "non-personally identifying." Which means, of course, that under their current rules, and without asking your permission, Google could begin selling your IP address's search history to third-party marketers, who can cross-check the IP address with data they've bought from, say, commerce sites that collect phone numbers and addresses. Which would make for one truly valuable combined database -- a database unlike anything previously available in the amount of detail about individual consumers.

Anyone want to bet that Google and the rest are already doing that kind of thing? A large, publicly traded company -- one with an eye always on quarterly results -- would have to be filled with saints to ignore that kind of revenue just dangling there. Sure would be interesting to see an answer in the NYT to this question: Is Google currently selling or renting user IP addresses and search histories to third parties?
posted by mediareport at 12:25 AM on August 8, 2005

I think, depending on the nature of the third party, they're almost certainly giving them away ...
posted by bwerdmuller at 12:36 AM on August 8, 2005

They're probably mad that Eric Schmidt was exposed as a liberal, which isn't good for governmental relations these days.

Pretty soon the latest Republican meme will be about how you can't trust anything on "the liberal internets." Fox Search will be established to counter Google's liberal influence.
posted by grouse at 2:06 AM on August 8, 2005

The phrase "targeted advertising" sounds quite euphemistic in the post text.
posted by nervousfritz at 5:17 AM on August 8, 2005

Didn't Google used to have a business philosophy that said "Don't be evil?"
posted by caddis at 9:17 AM on August 8, 2005

Uh, don't you need a static IP to be positively identified by it? Don't pretty much all ISPs have dynamic IPs? Am I being ignant?
posted by ddf at 9:46 AM on August 8, 2005

ddf, you can certainly be identified by using a dynamic IP. The ISP's all have logs that record who had what IP when. Moreover, the legal precedent has been set that those logfiles are totally accessible by those filing legal charges (napster etc).
posted by H. Roark at 9:53 AM on August 8, 2005

You'd think they'd be more paranoid about starting 3rd-grade schoolyard fights with news organizations, while their stock price is still unsustainably high. A little tiff like this could easily drop a hundred points off, leading to a loverly shareholder's lawsuit. It certainly doesn't strike me as competent management of an investors funds....not in today's lawsuit crazy world.
posted by nomisxid at 10:18 AM on August 8, 2005

Google can blacklist who ever they want and their stock price won't know the difference. My two cents anyway.
posted by zach4000 at 11:37 AM on August 8, 2005

Yeah, but their stock price is due for a correction anyway. Not so much because of this little incident, but because they have some new competition. Including some competition for the title of most ridiculously over-hyped tech stock, now that BIDU is around.
posted by sfenders at 1:13 PM on August 8, 2005

I was about to ask what BIDU is, but a Google search told me that:

1. it is Baidu, a Chinese search engine (that, interestingly, appears to have an mp3 section, though on closer inspection it looks like it's just the equivalent of a "filetype:mp3" google search); and that

2. there are rumors that Google is planning to buy them out; and that

3. Baidu may be changing their bylaws (or whatever businesses change) to make it more difficult for an external company to wrest control.

On even further inspection, the mp3 section will list the top100 charts and perform a search from there with a simple click. The results screen for mp3s (and .wma, etc.) seem to have music-specific information.
posted by nobody at 2:54 PM on August 8, 2005

To be a bit more clear, I didn't mean to say that Baidu was serious competition for google's actual business, though I guess they might be in China. I was thinking more of Yahoo's new ad service there.
posted by sfenders at 3:32 PM on August 8, 2005

Google can blacklist who ever they want and their stock price won't know the difference.

Except SEC regs say you can't give exclusive information. You tell one reporter or analyst, you have to tell them all.
posted by ilsa at 9:17 PM on August 8, 2005

Don't forget that Yahoo says it now indexes 20 billion pages as opposed to Google's measly 11.3 billion. Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah!
posted by madman at 1:31 PM on August 9, 2005

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