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What Google Knows About You and Its Relationship with the Government
By: Ivan Strouchliak
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    2008-11-12

    Table of Contents:
  • What Google Knows About You and Its Relationship with the Government
  • Google Desktop
  • For How Long does Google Keep Data About You?
  • Google's Privacy Policy and What Government Can Access

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    What Google Knows About You and Its Relationship with the Government - For How Long does Google Keep Data About You?


    (Page 3 of 4 )

    On May 23, 2008 AOL leaked keyword data to the world, revealing its search query history data structure. AOL Search is powered by Google, so we can assume that Google uses a query data structure similar to AOL's, archiving:

    • Numerical user ID (including IP)

    • Each separate keyword query from user

    • Time query was requested

    • Web site that was clicked on

    Though not included in the leaked AOL keywords, it's safe to say that Google (like all big search engines) tracks the time you spend on each site before hitting the back button, combined with all the sites you explore during each search session.

    According to an LA times report, Google keeps this information for nine months and used to keep it for 18 months.

    Bowing to pressure from privacy watchdogs and regulators, Google said that it would shorten how long it retains consumer data, making those records anonymous after nine months rather than 18.

    What happens with this data after this point? Does it get deleted? I doubt it. Archived? If so... then how?

    Like any corporation, Google plays the PR game, and these games aren't usually church confessions, but brand and mind-share management tools. I don't put much faith in official press releases; instead, I look for independent sources.

    According to David Faber, director of the movie "Big Brother, Big Business," Google worked to exclude itself from a privacy bill in California, designed to better regulate commercial data brokers. This hints that Google wants to sell consumer data down the road, which is logical, as bad as it sounds.

    Let's look a little further into its connection with the government.

    Google and NASA

    Before we get into legislature, let me mention the wonderful relationship Google enjoys with NASA, a government entity closely tied to the Pentagon.

    NASA and Google have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that outlines plans for cooperation on a variety of areas, including large-scale data management, massively distributed computing, bio-info-nano convergence, and encouragement of the entrepreneurial space industry. - NASA

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