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Googlonymous not so Anonymous

I was pointed yesterday to a new site (registered July 15, 2007) I’d not seen before named Googlonymous. There are three items on the main page – a search box, a paragraph of foreboding text, and an embedded flash video.

I’ve included a screen shot and the text below.

googlonymous.jpg

When you make a search on Google, your ip address, the time, and what you searched for is stored in their database forever and this information can be used in a court of law against you. Google will willingly allow authorities to consult their database, they already did as you can see in the video below. When you search on Google through Googlonymous, it is Googlonymous that goes on Google and does the search for you, the only ip address that Google will see, is the ip address of the server of Googlonymous. Googlonymous does not keep any record who searched for what. So this way, it is completely impossible to retrieve your identity. You can search for whatever you want without a care in the world, 100% anonymously.
Click play on the video below to see a fascninating documentary showing the dangers of searching on Google.

The idea behind the site is apparently to inform the public about how our surveillance culture is quickly outstripping our awareness and then to empower them to not be tracked by one of our most favorite technologies today, Google’s Search.

However, ironically, the very embedded video on that site – a copy of CNBC’s report entitled “Big Brother, Big Business” is itself streamed from the very company that the site is trying to help us circumvent.

The video is (currently) hosted at Google Video.

Enterprising engineers at Google could probably very easily, if they wanted, cross-reference your access of Googlonymous and Google Video from the same IP at the same time. It seems the motivation of not streaming the video themselves, the owners of Googlonymous have fallen victim to the lure of convenience and price that is mentioned in the CNBC report they’re publicizing.

When the price is right, we give up some of our privacy and therefore a bit of our liberty. This is not really news – the only reason it’s notable today is the irony.

“Search Google anonymously” and at the same time “stream video from Google”.

Not so anonymous.

The tools of the information age are shiny and neat – but they come with a price for all their magic.

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{ 7 } Comments

  1. Fred | August 8, 2007 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Doh. And how can we be sure that this project is throwing its logs away? Tor + Tobutton + Stealther in Firefox is the only way!

  2. Rob | August 9, 2007 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Very good point.

  3. Diana Boston | August 9, 2007 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree with you more. When I saw it I laughed, as if to say, this is utterly ridiculous. Sorry folks but if someone wants to find you, they will.

    What we need to be more concerned about is what happens to that information once it’s retrieved. However, in the good ole US of A all of those freedoms are eroding, slowly but surely.

    Remember, Minority Report was just a film. ;-)

  4. Cal | August 15, 2007 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    And if you think that is creepy. Check out the register of googlonymous

    Kkakafouin
    4449 les testes
    OUville, arkanzas j0h1e0
    BE

    Sounds pretty fishy to me.

  5. Dave | August 15, 2007 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    The fact that google keeps our information indefinitely has nothing to do with the price of technology and the fact that they don’t inform public of what they are doing with those information has nothing to do with it too. These are just moral issues. For me, as a person, what AOL does seems justifiable. They keep records for a limited time and keep it longer if there is a formal governmental request in a particular case. However, what google does is just not seems right to me. They keep our information b/c someday they may trade them for money in someway! There has to be a law to limit their use of public information and to protect privacy of individuals.

  6. John J. | August 20, 2007 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    I’ve only just now seen the Googlonymous site, and it doesn’t appear that the video is hosted by Google. It’s on powerflv.co,

    We should know that there are anonymizers (sites, services and softwares). This may be legit. More info would be nice.

  7. Terrell Russell | August 20, 2007 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    I just checked again – It’s definitely still streaming from vp.video.google.com to me here on the US east coast.