Ethical and Social Issues

What are the social and ethical issues that may arise with search engines?

What does Google do with all the information from searches?
Can you track someone’s search history? Who owns this information?

Google Recovers after Virus Hit
This issue is about a virus that effected the Google search engine. Google gets 200 million global enquiries each day. This virus, myDoom, slowed down the searches.

"Google is one of several search engines used by MyDoom to find valid e-mail addresses on the net. Past versions of the virus only searched a user's own computer or address list. The MyDoom.O variant spreads in the form of an e-mail attachment. The attached message pretends to be from the user's net provider's or company's support team saying that their PC has been used by hackers to send spam."

What could be the impact? Perhaps Googles' share price may be affected? Perhaps some users may move to other search engines and as a result Google advertising may decline? Perhaps only a small number of the users noticed - did we? Have we changed to another search engine?

Search Engines and Legal Issues: (James Chen)
This issue is about if search engines are legal or not. This site is about: What do Playboy and pagejacking, tarot readings and taxes all have in common? They were the subjects of ground-breaking court cases that set legal precedents for acceptable practices on the web.
Not long after search engines emerged, so did legal disputes involving them. Cases have been fought over trademarked terms being linked to ads or inserted into meta tags. Actions have been taken against "pagejackers" who use other people's contents to generate search engine traffic.
Participants on the "Search Engines and Legal Issues" panel discussed four prominent cases involving search engines, commenting on the outcomes and the ramifications of each case.

'Cheating' the search engines (Kamol)
This issues is about, how can the biggest search engines can be manipulated. we want to find the correct and the reliable infromation but now they are being manipulated and we can't get the infromation we want.

Essentially, the web is a collection of pages, all linking to each other. With all of these links, the main search engine algorithms were fooled into thinking this was a relevant result for that search term, and Bush was driven to the top of the rankings. Mr Bush had been link bombed. Link bombs are usually self-defeating - as they become successful, other popular sites begin to discuss the bombs, and end up becoming more popular than the link bomb, driving it from number one.

Google unhappy with rude copycat”(Linda)

Google are demanding that ‘Booble’, which allows users to search for adult products, changes its name and identity” and the issue here is Intellectual Property ‘Booble’ because it allows users to search for adult products, changes its name and identity and the design and layout of the page is very similar to Google’s.
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Controlling terrorism Via Google adwords (Poom)
The American Government has been making use of AdWords in a bid to ensnare terrorists and control terrorism. The ads are visible to Internet visitor on the content network and to searchers looking for keywords such as “terrorism”, “Middle East peace”, “human rights”, “press freedom”, “renewable energy”, “food aid” and “US elections”. The ads are only shown to Google users in Canada, the UK and the UAE. This is because Google ads are a very effective way of drawing people to the site.

Google Queried On Privacy Policy - Tom

This article is about claims that Google has not been abiding by European Privacy laws, and presents a number of issues in a variety of areas of impact, including Security, Privacy & Anonymity, and Globalization & Cultural Diversification.
"Google has been told that it may be breaking European privacy laws by keeping people's search information on its servers for up to two years."
"Google collects and stores data from each query. It holds information such as the search term itself, the unique address of the PC being used, known as the IP address, and details of how a user makes searches, such as the browser used and previous queries to Google. That information can contain private data about a user, and could be used to build a detailed picture of the user's habits or lifestyle."
What could be the impact? Perhaps Google will be in trouble with the government? Maybe some users may move to other search engines because they don't want Google to keep their Data? Maybe the general public don't really care that Google keeps their data - do we? Do we even know that this goes on?

**Search Engines warned over data** (Dolyana & Rozanna)

Article by Darren Waters, Technology editor, BBC News website.
This article mentions that when using search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN, personal data such as the user’s IP/PC Address, how a user makes their searches, and search history is stored from each search query.
Search engines should be deleting or making personal data anonymous, which is held for at least 6 months. This is a problem because of security, privacy and anonimity issues, especially when the information is no longer necessary. User data in Google and MSN is made anonymous after 18 months and Yahoo anonymise user data after 13 months.
More data is collected when users create an account on a search engine such as search history and data from 3rd parties.
Article 29 Data Protection Working Party said "search engine providers must delete or irreversibly anonymise personal data once they no longer serve the specified and legitimate purpose they were collected for" and should not be stored or processed "beyond providing search results" if the user had not created an account or consented and registered with the search engine.
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Privacy Issue with the use of Search Engine

"In January 2006, the Justice Department asked a federal court in San Jose, California to force Google to turn over search records for use as evidence in a case where the government is defending the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). On March 17, 2006, the judge rejected the government's overreaching request for user records"

Issue of privacy of the use of search engines, as record your queries and stores them in a databases that can obtain details of your life and preference. This information can be very private and can reveal a lot of things about your life that you might not want strangers to know, such as your work location, or people in your family. If people are seeing search references that apply to your medical history or financial information, it will become a huge issue of privacy for the user of the search engine.

This article is about Google's, Msn's and Yahoo's privacy policies dealing with deleting user information withing six months. These search engines are extended this due date of six months.The article says that Google, Msn and Yahoo anonymise users' personal inforamtion within 18 months, and this goes against their privacy policies.

"Google said its privacy policy "strikes the right balance" between privacy, security and innovation. " (BBC news, 2008)
Here google are saying that their privicy policie is working, yet they are not deleting personal information after six months, in which they are breaching their own policie.