Google Desktop’s “Search Across Computers” Copies Your Personal Data to Google’s Servers
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The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) is warning that a new feature of Google’s Desktop, called “Search Across Computers” copies entire documents and an enormous amount of data from your hard drive to Google’s servers.

According to a statement by the EFF, “If a consumer chooses to use it, the new “Search Across Computers” feature will store copies of the user’s Word documents, PDFs, spreadsheets and other text-based documents on Google’s own servers, to enable searching from any one of the user’s computers. EFF urges consumers not to use this feature, because it will make their personal data more vulnerable to subpoenas from the government and possibly private litigants, while providing a convenient one-stop-shop for hackers who’ve obtained a user’s Google password.”


Internet Patrol readers will recall that just a few weeks ago the government sued Google for access to user records, demanding that they turn over users’ search records so that they can see who is searching for illegal content.

Even in the face of the Electronic Communication Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), once your data is on Google’s servers your privacy protection is limited because, as the EFF describes, the ECPA “gives only limited privacy protection to emails and other files that are stored with online service provider – much less privacy than the legal protections for the same information when it’s on your computer at home. And even that lower level of legal protection could disappear if Google uses your data for marketing purposes. Google says it is not yet scanning the files it copies from your hard drive in order to serve targeted advertising, but it hasn’t ruled out the possibility, and Google’s current privacy policy appears to allow it.”

So, whether you generally trust Google to do the right thing or not, unless you implicitly trust Big Government, hackers, and others, think twice before using Google’s “Search Across Computers”.

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No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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One thought on “Google Desktop’s “Search Across Computers” Copies Your Personal Data to Google’s Servers
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  1. Would it be possible to get a “snapshot” of the Goggle desktop and where the “search across computers” option is offered??? I am reluctant to start looking for it – in case I find it and inadvertently give it access…. I’m enjoying your news bulletins. THX

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