It was a few days ago that I posted (here) that people loved badmouthing Google for the ... 'different' ... measures and methods that it seems to be adopting now. Now, it seems as though some are on the backfoot, and some are just plain crazy ... but Google at the end of it is taking risks that might not pay off that well. On Friday, 10 February, Google released the third version of their Desktop software (in beta), with more features to increase usability, ease and raise eyebrows. The feature heavily in question is their new Search Across Computers (more info). This feature allows one to search the files on their computer from any other computer that has Google Desktop installed, and they have access to. Google achieves this by storing a copy of the files on their servers, so that they are available for viewing and searches. The feature is completely optional. Now isn't that cool? Not! This poses one of the biggest privacy and security threats ever, and for our sake (and Google's), I hope Google is going to divert most of their security checks to keep all that data secure. Google claims that the details of the files in your account will not be sold or opened to anyone else but you.
Your HTTPS web history will never be shared with your other computers, whether or not you allow indexing HTTPS items on one of your computers.(Desktop Features Page) Although, concerned authorities think otherwise!
Digital civil rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation is warning that the latest version of the Google Desktop application may pose a serious risk to your privacy. But the EFF says that the laws protecting data held in this manner are far from robust. In fact, it becomes much easier for legal parties to get hold of your data by forcing Google to hand it over if it is keeping a copy of it, particularly governments.(courtsey PC Pro) That being the case, I have doubts as to if the motives of offering this feature are completely consumer driven. If you remember, a while back the Bush Administration had asked Google and other leading search companies to hand over their copies of the search terms and queries to supposedly track down illegal pornography (story here). This might be something of an aftermath of that lawsuit, which Google is trying to hide under the covers of a 'new feature'. Who knows what Google is upto? But whatever this is, the ease of usability and added convenience is amazing, and I am sure those who know that they've remained on the right side of the law, will gladly welcome this feature since it gives them the convenience of storing the important files from a secure and easy to access storage spot! Now, if only they would come out clean and tell us what their main motive behind this new feature is... Filed Under: google