Friday 28 January 2011

Google Bots Are Deleting Genuine Blogs As Splogs

Google must consider the question whether use of privacy and cyber security safeguards like Tor software is in itself sufficient ground to remove a blog from Google’s database? Does the mere use of Tor violates the terms and conditions of Google?

Google has been struggling to deal with offensive blogs that are spoiling this otherwise genuine and wonderful platform. Since the numbers of offending blogs are numerous it is not possible to manually do this exercise.

Google has to essentially use automated bots to do this cleansing job for it. However, Google bots need an urgent tweaking as they are giving more and more false positive. Many genuine blogs have been blocked/removed as they were considered to be spam blogs.

Not all these removed blogs are spam blogs rather a majority of them are genuine blogs with original contents and no objectionable contents. While I would not like to comment upon the spam detection and its removal procedure, I would like to discuss a very serious and civil liberty issue here. The matter pertains to protecting privacy of users of Google that it is not only morally required to protect but also required under the provisions of various national and international laws and norms.

The crucial question is whether Google is against use of Privacy safeguards like Tor software? Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis.

It seems Google consider the Tor traffic as malicious activities and removes any blog that uses the same from its database. The complete details of the same are available at its Help Forum.

At the same time, Google also blocked access to the Google account itself in this case so no requests for review can be made from it. In fact, there is no way a person can log in to this account.

While browsers like Chrome, Firefox and IE are working in the direction of ensuring more privacy to the users, Google bots are working in the opposite direction. The Federal Trade Commission's has recently called for a simple mechanism empowering consumers to universally stop advertising networks from tailing them around the Web.

If a person uses Tor these advertisers cannot bother him with privacy violating advertisements based on personal profiling. Tor automatically filters these advertisements and many cyber security threats.

In the past Google has not taken privacy issues very seriously. This has, to a larger extent, eroded its motto known as do not be evil. Of course Google has a right to take violations like spam very seriously, but it needs to reformulate its policies and practices regarding empowering its users with more privacy.