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Mailbag: Google and Privacy

A couple recently sued Google for invasion of privacy after Google took pictures in their private driveway for its Street View tool. Doug asked readers whether they think we have enough privacy from Google and others. Here are some of your responses:

I think that you're just trying to bash Google ANY chance you get. Please try to write from a more unbiased position.

There have always been technologies to compromise privacy, from telescopes to wiretaps. It does not mean that there is no longer a right to privacy. Google's argument is chutzpah, which is classically defined as a child killing his parents and then begging leniency from the court on the grounds that he is an orphan.

In the age we are in, we have to be very careful to not have our rights bulldozed over by a bunch of arrogant, rich companies who only see the moment and their profits. This type of blind disregard for the views, wants, desires and needs of those who currently are not in power can lead to serious backlash when the infamous worm turns. People will only stand for so much before they rise in mass and overthrow an oppressor.

Since the chains that bind us to companies such as Google are only those of personal choice, they can be severed in a heartbeat. Google needs to tread very carefully in this matter. There are plenty of alternatives for each and every function it offers. Piss us off and we as a people could shut them down by the most deadly method available in this Internet age: We could ignore them.

Read "Woodswoman II: Beyond Black Bear Lake." If you're not familiar with who the author is, she's a self-described advocate for the environment and especially for the Adirondack Mountains. But what I found interesting in this book was the fact that she moved from a pretty obscure lake in the Adirondack Mountains to a super-obscure lake due to the fact her fans kept on trying to find her. Now, if she doesn't have privacy (she actually fought the USAF and won on the fact they aren't allowed to fly over her place anymore), who does?

I'd be interested in the details of that case you cited. I'll bet the couple didn't have "posted property" signs on their road. Also, if they really think their road is a private road, then it should be gated. Also, it could be declared "public" if they have a deal with the state/locality for road maintenance. There are "private road" signs up in one hood in my county, but people go up them all the time to "house view." Unfortunately for them, unless they took really stern measures to safeguard the privacy of the road, they don't stand a chance in court. However, Google's take on it is pretty bad, too, and that isn't right either.

Vista is the least-favorite OS of one more reader...but a few more of you think it's not all that bad:

From 1985, my company used DOS, Windows 3, 95, 98, ME, XP Pro and Vista Ultimate. All except Vista were certainly acceptable and our real favorite is XP. We tried Vista on two new machines and after five months, had the hard drives reformatted to remove all traces of it and put XP Pro on them. The effort of installing XP and reinstalling our applications was certainly worth to get rid of Vista.

I like Vista. Most all of the negative comments I've read to date concerning Vista is just whining. The only downside that I've experienced has been support for drivers, primarily equipment older than two years and adding print drivers in a locked-down environment. This took a lot of time to resolve due to the new driver signing requirements. In fact, MS said it couldn't be done, but we proved them wrong. If you're ready for a hardware refresh, it doesn't make sense to look backward.

In my experience, I think that Vista itself is pretty much where enterprise needs it to be -- although you need to have a pretty modern PC to get the most from it. Unfortunately, it is third-party support that is still lacking. For example, the Cisco VPN client for Vista does not have the same level of functionality as the client under XP. You cannot, for example, pre-connect the VPN before logging onto the PC, which is an absolutely necessary for remote GPO updates, etc.

I don't know if Microsoft can do anything to help third parties overcome these issues, but the slow adoption of Vista is not entirely of Microsoft's making.

And Jonathan wonders why OneCare's more obscure OEM supporters got mentioned in a recent Redmond Report, but not others:

I saw your post regarding Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare announcement in the Redmond Report and wanted to thank you for the coverage, but I'm also hoping you can provide some clarity as to why you omitted mention of Sony and Toshiba from the list of participants. I understand that OEM deals outside the U.S. may not be relevant to all of your readers, but I'm concerned that actively excluding mention of Sony and Toshiba in your commentary provides a limited view of the actual news that was announced.

Got something to say? Let us know! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on August 04, 2008