I don’t think of online privacy much. I reallllly should but I rarely do. I don’t register with anyone, I have a different password for every site that needs one, that kind of thing. But that’s security, privacy is related but a bit different. Your information can be secure from hackers but the service it goes through might have an uncomfortable amount of your data.
At the last Yulblog I had a very interesting conversation with Karl who has already mentioned his worries about privacy [fr] vs the amount of data Google has going through their servers. (Also see his Geek paradise [fr] piece.)
Two groups surprise me by their almost complete lack of attention to this issue; companies who don’t encript their emails and don’t worry about employees passing along information through 3rd party email servers like GMail. The second group is the “mild geek” of which I am part. Not the crypto fanatics hanging out on Slashdot, just the net savvy people who should know better, where are all the posts and articles about security issues?
Here’s one on 37 Signals where they say that GWA shines light on Google privacy concerns. It’s interesting to note the people jumping in defence of Google. There’s an Apple cult but there’s also a Google cult.
For the sake of argument, let’s take for granted that they do good. That doesn’t mean all their employees do good, doesn’t mean they are 100% safe from hackers, it just means the corporate entity doesn’t aim to use your data in an evil manner. They are still piling information about your habits and unencryted personal information. For some users it’s everything; browsing habits, emails, messaging conversations.
Above and beyond wether Google is good or not, the issue should be monitored and discussed. People should take steps to secure their data.