Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

People google the durndest things, Part 2

In the last twenty four hours some interesting search queries have shown up on the statistics page for this blog. Also, Google has been in the news recently (well, it was a few months ago, now) because some people have taken umbrage at the fact that the major search engines keep a record of the “search strings” (the words used in a search) and the IP address of the searcher… which raises some privacy issues, as IP addresses can be traced back to specific machines (and thus, people). For more on that, click here. I will not debate those specific issues here.

Tip of the day: My recent article, They ARE reading your mail, highlighted the fact that what you do on a computer is recordable, and that Internet traffic is automatically monitored at your workplace. Records are kept. The law requires copies of business e-mails to be retained for a certain period of time (causing some embarrassment at the White House not too long ago), in case you didn’t know. You should know, also, about “cookies“, and how they may be used to track your browsing habits. Machines keep track.

WordPress — which hosts this site — provides me with some data about this blog; how many “views” I had yesterday or last month, for example, and what links (I’ve provided) people click on.. and how often. This general information is not traceable back to you, Dear Reader — not by me, anyway.

One of the stats provided me is the searches people have used to find my site. The stat does not provide me much information, just the words of the search string. I referenced this fact in an rather early article, People google the durndest things. I meant it then, and I mean it just as much today.

Consider the search referral shown below, which has been registered four different times: this person is serious about getting an answer.
In case you have trouble reading that, the string was “if my hard drive was wiped free of all depictions or viruses am i still guilty child ionternet porn”.

And this one, which shows how it appears on my Blog Stats page:
The search engine provided a list of results to these search “strings” and my blog was one of the results, which the searcher clicked on, and thus my stat. I have NOT written the answers to these exact queries, but I have written about cell phones and hard drives — the “keywords” of the string. I want to assure you, Dear Reader, in no way will I deliberately or knowingly abet an evil doer, as it strikes me these two are.

These examples do bring up the delicate balance that must be struck between law enforcement and individual privacy — a ‘hammering out’ process we are in the throes of now. I confess I am of “two minds” on this subject: I am very concerned about the erosion of civil liberties but, in the case of the first example, I would like to know this person’s identity, and a place I could report them to. That’s the kind of guy I am, I guess. I am very aware that some of you may feel differently.

Today’s free link: If you are concerned about privacy, or the current laws of the land regarding electronic monitoring, one place to look for information is the Center for Democracy & Technology.

Tomorrow, I will be off of my soapbox and return to the world of tips & tweaks. My point has been only this; if you type it, it can be seen.

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul, All Rights Reserved

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September 13, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, PC, privacy, searching, tech | Leave a comment