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Op-Ed: Google bots are deleting genuine blogs

By Pritesh N Munjal     Jan 26, 2011 in Technology
Google must consider the question of whether the use of privacy and cyber security safeguards like Tor software is in itself sufficient grounds to remove a blog from Google’s database. Does the mere use of Tor violates the terms and conditions of Google
For those who aren't familiar with Tor, it's free software 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," as the site defines.
Google has supported the Tor project and helped bloggers get their voice heard in areas where censorship is common place.
But with the growth of the blogosphere, there are also many fake blogs, spam blogs or malicious blogs that have cropped up. Google has been struggling to deal with offensive blogs that are spoiling the otherwise genuine and wonderful blogosphere. 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 generating more and more false positives and many genuine blogs have been blocked or removed for being flagged as spam blogs.
Not all these removed blogs are spam blogs, however, and many are genuine blogs with original content and no objectionable content. 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? 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 users, Google bots seem to be 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 them with privacy-violating advertisements based on personal profiling. Tor automatically filters these advertisements and many cyber security threats.
In my opinion, Google has not taken privacy issues very seriously. This has, to a larger extent, eroded its motto known as "Don't 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.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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