Posted by: Jim | July 28, 2008

G’bye Google

I’ve been involved with internet privacy for some time. My other infrequently updated blog is BooYahoo!, which is actively speaking out against Yahoo! for its despicable privacy policies in China, which has resulted in the imprisonment of innocent activists.

All along, I’ve tried to remain a proponent of Google, because it has at least tried to abide by its own slogan of “Don’t Be Evil.” Note that the slogan isn’t “Don’t DO Evil,” as this allows them to invoke an old philosophical argument between doing and being … but that’s another topic. Regardless, Google has done slightly less evil than it’s competitors. The problem I have with Google today is its enormous potential to do evil. Namely, they could look up every search term I’ve ever used and provide it to the government. Given the government’s current propensity for warrantless wiretapping, e-mail snooping, and the like, it’s no stretch for them to ask Google for their search term database. In fact, they did ask for it in 2006 under the auspices of the increasingly mis-named “US Patriot Act,” but Google refused  (Has anyone heard the outcome of that standoff? It’s mysteriously not in the news.)

The fact that Google catalogs these search terms–and especially that they are cataloged by IP Address–is like waving a truffle in front of a chocoholic. It’s simply irresistible.

Case in point. I’m a writer. I write fiction. I have had to do research using terms like “nuclear blast radius” and “suitcase bomb” etc. If the government got their hands on Google’s search term database, they might have already put my name on the Terrorist Watch List. Not good. 

Enter “Cuil,” (pronounced “cool”) stage left. I’ve already played with it, and frankly, it looks good–and possibly will be better than Google after its engines have some time to rev up. It has a privacy policy that is FAR better than Google’s. It claims to have 3-times more web pages cataloged than Google. Google will be anonymizing it’s database in the next 12-18 months. After that time, I may go back to my beloved Google.  

Until then … I’m a Cuil man.



  1. The Guardian highlighted Cuil today.

    To be honest, I am not impressed, and a comparison between the use value of Cuil with Google for the same search term is easy to make. With the searches I ran, Cuil simply did not perform well.

    Your wider point is sound, but I do think, with the technology available, that to switch search engines on the basis of privacy is like trying to find more privacy in another corner of the same extremely well illuminated space.

    I have also entered all manner of strange phrases into Google and had an interest in T-ism stories, thereby entering the T-ism word to track them down. Am I to trust that the powers that be can separate the spectators from the performers…

    One hopes so.

    (I’m with you on Yahoo! and never use their products now. It appears that there is no price, ethical or moral, that Yahoo! are not willing to pay to play in the Chinese market)

  2. The Google will not tolerate your insubordination. You will be assimilated.

    * * *

  3. first, there is no more scrabulous….now you expect us to live without google???????!!!

    a few years ago, wasn’t there a day when everyone sent an email with the word “bomb” in it? just to mess with that terrorist act…..

    there is also a “nude gardening” day in england.

    i would like a “get over your big-bad self” day-that all political leaders must participate in.
    a day when they have to just sit at home google-ing, and scrabble-ing, and leave the rest of us alone…..

  4. I always thought a ‘stink bombing campaign’ would be entertaining…

    … hell, I still do… – good scrabble engine and site that’s been running for years

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