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What's the deal with the google analytics on the site -- Privacy
Old 08-26-2007, 05:19 AM   #1
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What's the deal with the google analytics on the site -- Privacy

People this can be used to stitch together a profile to sell to marketers.


Where is the sites privacy statement?
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Old 08-26-2007, 07:13 AM   #2
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How and what info is being gathered?

I thought google looked at the words used and then tried to put in appropriate advertising.
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Old 08-26-2007, 07:17 AM   #3
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I don't understand either, chinaco. I agree with dex . . . words = advertising (I thought). Give me a clue here.
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Old 08-26-2007, 07:33 AM   #4
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Google Analytics does not collect any personal information about our members and no personal information about our members is ever shared with any 3rd parties. All information that Google Analytics collects is agregate information that any web server you access can collect (whether Analytics is installed or not). None of the info Analytics collects is connected with individual member accounts.
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Old 08-26-2007, 07:38 AM   #5
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Google analytics is a tracking mechanism that helps marketers to understand your behavior on the net. The intention is (I believe) for sales. It appears that they build a profile by aggregating information about you in database and track info. This information can be cross compared with other databases.

Remember the recent accident at AOL where alot of information was released.

There are multiple concerns and possibilities. One of which is that they may use the information for other purposes in the future. There are few laws governing the use of it today.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics - Benefits


I started getting pop-up boxes notifying me that I was trying to connect to google analytics. I looked at the page source and noticed some javascript (the urchin software) that is used to report back to the Google.

I am not sure if it was placed on the pages by Andy or if was included by owners of the free forum software he uses. Either way... I am a little uncomfortable with it.

So then I started looking for this sites privacy policy just to see what it states. I have not found it yet. Anyone know where it is located?
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Old 08-26-2007, 07:47 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy R View Post
All information that Google Analytics collects is agregate information that any web server you access can collect (whether Analytics is installed or not).
Andy come on. Who do you think you are talking to? The difference is that you are feeding the thing. That information can be stitched together with other information form other data aggregators. Surely you know this.

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Originally Posted by Andy R View Post
None of the info Analytics collects is connected with individual member accounts.
Your database is one query away from aggregating the data you have with information from anyone else. You could take it and sell it.

One of the hottest financial marketing areas today is retirement planning. Marketers will pay for it. Once they have it, they can use it however they see fit (few laws govern its use).


Do you have a privacy statement?
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Old 08-26-2007, 09:12 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
Your database is one query away from aggregating the data you have with information from anyone else. You could take it and sell it.
All the data in Analytics is for the site overall. It does not tell me anything about an individual member nor can I query Google for information like that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
One of the hottest financial marketing areas today is retirement planning. Marketers will pay for it. Once they have it, they can use it however they see fit (few laws govern its use).
As I said, you information will NEVER be given, sold or provided to any 3rd party with out your consent.
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Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
Do you have a privacy statement?
I do not have one at this time but I will get one created and posted ASAP. It's been on my To Do list. I am heading back home (to the States) tomorrow, arriving on Tuesday and then going to spend Tuesday/Wednesday catching up with my family. I have a meeting in LA on Thursday and then head to Colorado for a little get together with my college buddies for Labor Day. I will schedule time with my lawyer the week after Labor Day to get a Privacy Statement developed. Thanks for pushing me on this, it's something that I have been planning to do. I would also like to be part of the BBB Privacy Seal program and get the systems certified by Hacker Safe. I want you all to have trust in Social Knowledge and to feel safe posting here, so please rest assured that I will address this ASAP.
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Old 08-26-2007, 11:11 AM   #8
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I use Firefox and don't see any adds. I doubt if google can put me in a catagory. I am a female transsexual transvestie martian.
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Old 08-26-2007, 03:41 PM   #9
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Actually the google ads are just a 'false front'. They use them to find out which individuals are paranoid, and then sell their ID to survivalist web sites.

No, really.

-ERD50
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Old 08-27-2007, 02:54 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
Actually the google ads are just a 'false front'. They use them to find out which individuals are paranoid, and then sell their ID to survivalist web sites.

No, really.

-ERD50
I note the humor in your post. But do you know how it works or understand the implications?

The use of data is ahead of regulations and governance to limit how it is used and in many cases abused. The information is an asset that is worth money. That is a strong motivator for rationalized use abuse. Read sell.

Over the last few months I have started getting an increase in junk mail from financial service providers (all manner of them). I am careful about giving out information. I somehow wound up on some data aggregators list that they sell to companies.

When I saw the google analytics pop up, I had/have a concern.

The lack of a privacy policy just makes it worse. Everyone should have a concern.

Of course, if one is not aware of the implications... it might seem as as trivial concern. It is not trivial. Junk mail is just one of the most obvious annoyances.
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Old 08-27-2007, 07:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
I note the humor in your post.
......
The lack of a privacy policy just makes it worse. Everyone should have a concern.
OK, on a more serious note:

I agree that there should be a formal privacy policy. It is just the right thing to do, and Andy recognizes this. But it does not really concern me, much. I'll take what Andy implied at face value, this is just a carry-over from Dory not having one.

Quote:
But do you know how it works or understand the implications?
I think so. Google scans the content of a page for keywords to link to advertisers. Google places those ads in the top bar. Advertisers pay if you click, Andy gets something for this. The site is able to pay it's bills, Andy get fantastically wealthy and retires in the next 37 days with a SWR of just 0.0264% .

Quote:
The information is an asset that is worth money. That is a strong motivator for rationalized use abuse. Read sell.
Works both ways. Google's business model, which seems to be working well ( says a guy who failed to buy on the IPO ) also depends on NOT messing with your personal data. I really don't think they would kill the goose that laid the golden egg in order to collect some under-the-table money from spamsters that want the email address of chinaco.

Google does have a privacy statement:

Quote:
We may share with third parties certain pieces of aggregated, non-personal information, such as the number of users who searched for a particular term, for example, or how many users clicked on a particular advertisement. Such information does not identify you individually.
Quote:
Of course, if one is not aware of the implications... it might seem as as trivial concern. It is not trivial. Junk mail is just one of the most obvious annoyances.
Trust me, I hate, hate, hate junk mail. My ISP is currently blocking so much stuff that I need to go in several times a day to retrieve the stuff I want. But there are so many sources for SPAM. For your theory to work, a site admin would need to be grabbing your registered email address, contacting the google ad sources and offering these addresses. Google does not have access to your address through these postings.

Now, for the sake of the conversation, let's assume someone on the staff at this site is devious, or the personal info (email addys) gets acquired. Seems it would be much easier to sell that stuff on some kind of underground black market (just contact the people you GET spam from) than to try to contact the google advertisers, who are very probably legit.

Therefore, I fail to see how Google ads would realistically be a source of a problem in any way, shape, or form, and hence my 'paranoid' reference.

And now that I have actually thought it thorough, it strengthens my feelings about it.

Ockam's razor - there are simpler explanations for your financial spam.

-ERD50
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Old 08-27-2007, 06:46 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
OK, on a more serious note:


-ERD50

AOL search data identified individuals

Some cases are just mistakes... carelessness.

Amazon.com revises its privacy policy to sell data | OUT-LAW.COM


Others have a profit motive (with much money to be made)... see Amazons move.

I am not inclined to assume too much.

Now that I know that google is spreading urchin around, I know how to block it.
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Old 08-27-2007, 07:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
...The lack of a privacy policy just makes it worse. Everyone should have a concern.

Of course, if one is not aware of the implications... it might seem as as trivial concern. It is not trivial. Junk mail is just one of the most obvious annoyances.
I just want to give you a public thank you for putting this in the spotlight.

Please keep us posted when you feel satisfied with any solutions put in place.
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Old 08-27-2007, 10:02 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
AOL search data identified individuals

Some cases are just mistakes... carelessness.

Amazon.com revises its privacy policy to sell data | OUT-LAW.COM


Others have a profit motive (with much money to be made)... see Amazons move.

I am not inclined to assume too much.

Now that I know that google is spreading urchin around, I know how to block it.
I still fail to see how google placing ads based on the content of the forum page is going to link an individual to anything.

That's not to say there are not breaches of privacy out there, as you point out. We should be careful, but I just don't get the connection here.

here is a site with way too much info, if you ask me:

Free People Search by ZabaSearch!

-ERD50
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Old 08-27-2007, 10:10 PM   #15
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I also think that some of these news reports of 'privacy violations' are a bit of hype.

Some of the information they get exited about is available in any phone book. But. discover it on the internet, and it's suddenly a 'breach of privacy'.

I am much more worried about those cases of a laptop being lost/stolen with lists of financial clients on it with key info that could lead to ID theft. And I don't even really worry about that.

-ERD50
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Old 08-27-2007, 11:16 PM   #16
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As Sun Microsystems's co-founder Scot McNealy said many years ago, you have zero privacy on the internet, get over it.

While I respect Chinaco and other like the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) who are concerned about internet privacy it is to late. I think that not only has the barn door been open for the last decade but the farm animals have run way and are happily posing as teenage girls on myspace.

I am pretty sure Google being under heavy scrunity does exactly what their privacy policy say it does, namely the information is used in aggregate.
I think ERD50 is right but even if he isn't and somehow somebody has got someone email address because of Google Analytics.

Let me ask Chinaco what the heck is wrong with you getting advertising information from financial services? Given the number of posts you have made in the last 6 months mostly about FIRE stuff, I think you would be a prime potential customersfor financial services. Now I understand that the vast majority of the services they offer (e.g. Variable annuity with high load funds) you aren't interested it. Yes, it is a pain to have to throw out junk email, but I'd rather get spam from a discount broker than a better Viagra drug.

To a very large extent, the entire basis of the American economy is based on companies reaching potential customers and informing (i.e. selling) them of very narrowly targeted products. (E.g pink cell phones, with Disney ring tones, and built in GPS so parents can know where their kids are.) Being able to do so efficiently is what has increased the productivity of American companies, which in turn leads to higher profits, higher stock prices, and enables many of us to enjoy an early retirement.

For many years I had a roommate named Chris. Several times a year Chris received Tampoon samples in the mail. What happened was some not so bright direct mail guy got a list of names in the neighborhood and mailed them to all the woman, not realizing the Chris was short for Christopher. Now days we'd have a name for companies dumb enough to do such a thing, it would be called bankrupt.

I hate getting the pitches for the silly penny stocks, refinancing my mortgage etc. but every once in a while I'll get a offer for good deal from a a financial company and take advantage off it. Now in a perfect world, I get no ads in my life, and never have hit the delete button on my email, surf to a new channel on my TV, or scream at 100th time I've heard the same radio commercial. But if everybody enjoyed my perfect world, I'd be working and feel very lucky to have a job. So when I clean my spam every day and throw out my decreasing amount of physical junk mail, I note with satisfication that I'm not being sent Tampoon samples.

The internet has experiment with an ad free environment, and the overwhelming consensus is the given a choice between puting up with ads, and forking over $50 to $100 a year for a bbs like this people will take the ads.
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Old 08-28-2007, 12:43 AM   #17
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If you are really that paranoid about privacy you can access the site through an anonymous proxy server... ultimately privacy is your responsibility not the responsibility of the sites that you visit because sites can change ownership (as we have seen) and then all bets and promises are off anyway.
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Old 08-28-2007, 02:28 AM   #18
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ERD50 - When I became aware of google urchin being used, i posted a concern. Google tracks anything you do off of its search engine. Now they are spreading this analytic software that phones home no matter how you got there. That information can (and will) be aggregated with other information and sold eventually. Used in ways you never imagined. Some could be helpful... some may not be. Will it matter to me personally, I do not know. But I know one thing for sure a few years ago SSN, DOB, and few other pieces of information were kept semi-private with little concern (used for a variety of purposes). Now in the age of mass data, communications, and easy credit, identity theft and fraud are rampant. We have little understanding of what this could mean in the near future.

I believe a reasonable dose of concern is warranted. Inquiring about it seems reasonable. But then again, I have much more knowledge and background on the subject than the average person.

Google's interest in spreading a tracking beacon (for free to all site owners) is of concern. I fail to see any upside for me... only possible down side.

Laws and regulations often lag behind when technology creates new capabilities. Businesses and individuals often push the limits (mainly for a profit motive). Sometimes just being careless.

I responded to your comments. At first, I thought you might just be ignorant about the subject. Now it appears that your motivation is to invalidate the concern, or you are just fishing for a reaction, or just want to argue on the matter.

I have no interest in trying to convince you of anything.

I took care of the google issue for myself. As far as I am concerned it is not an issue. No need for a proxy server. Simpler than that.


On the privacy policy issue, Andy indicate he would put up a privacy policy. Seems reasonable.
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:20 AM   #19
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ERD50 - When I became aware of google urchin being used, i posted a concern. Google tracks anything you do off of its search engine.
Concern is fine. But I have yet to understand how Google ads pose any real threat to users of this forum. You have only mentioned vague threats.

Quote:
I fail to see any upside for me... only possible down side.
UPSIDE: Andy gets paid, the site remains free. We 'pay' for it with some fairly innocuous ads on each page that are pretty easily ignored.

Most of the magazines I subscribe to have ads. OMG, they have my address, my CC number, and now they know my interests. No big deal to me. Google ads no big deal to me.

It is a personal choice for me, but I do not use an ad blocker on any of the 'free' sites I visit regularly. I figure that is the price of admission. I make an exception if they start doing the obnoxious flashing interruptive ads, and I let the site admin know about it.

Quote:
Now it appears that your motivation is to invalidate the concern, or you are just fishing for a reaction, or just want to argue on the matter.
No, I simply do not understand the concern. I'm not fishing for a reaction, but I am a little concerned that your view might be picked up by others as a major concern, and in a small way, that could negatively impact this site (fewer visitors, less traffic for Andy, etc, etc, etc)

Quote:
I have no interest in trying to convince you of anything.
Fine, I'm just trying to put this in perspective. I'm actually much more concerned that someone walks in my house and steals my computer and searches through my hard drive. I don't go through the effort to keep everything encrypted. That is a real concern, and I really should do something about it. I think the threat from this is 1,000,000x the threat from a Google ad.

Is your phone line secure? Do you know people can just tap in anywhere from your house to the pole and monitor your conversations? All it takes is a standard phone and alligator clips. I've always been amazed that people demand encryption on web sites for financial transactions, but will give all that info over the phone to a representative of a company (who may be a crook who got the job just to get this data), and they don't demand a secure phone line. What's the diff?

Do you send mail in secure tamper evident envelopes? Are you sure bad guys don't have a way around that? People were stealing mail from the local PO boxes here. So let's not use mail either. Do you have conversations in public? Did someone plant a mini-wireless camera near your ATM? These are all real, do-able threats, yet, we go on with our lives. I think you are making a mountain of a molehill, but that's just me.

Quote:
I took care of the google issue for myself. As far as I am concerned it is not an issue. No need for a proxy server. Simpler than that.
Are you *sure* you took care of this? Hmmmm, maybe Google can peer through ad-blockers? Seriously, if you have so many concerns, I would follow the advice of others - take extreme measures, or get off the internet all together.

Quote:
On the privacy policy issue, Andy indicate he would put up a privacy policy. Seems reasonable.
Yes, Andy should have a privacy policy, I agree. But what does that accomplish, other than the formality, and a 'feel good' move? Can we 'trust' Andy to abide by it? Can we 'trust' everyone he hires, or everyone that might gain access to our profiles? I don't think so.

Hey, for all we know, Andy is managing this site from some foreign country, out of reach of the strong arm of U.S. law!

Andy R: Ar-gen-TEE-nah!

-ERD50
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:35 AM   #20
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And here is the kind of 'personal' data that got released when those very rare occurrences of data getting leaked (AOL a year ago):

A Face Is Exposed for AOL Searcher No. 4417749 - New York Times

Quote:
No. 3482401 seeks guidance on “calorie counting.”

No. 3483689 searches for the songs “Time After Time” and “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
Scary stuff indeed

Actually, AOL itself scares me - I would avoid business with them as much as possible.

-ERD50
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