Jan 282010
 January 28, 2010  Posted by  Featured News, Online

Oops… although I reported concerns about Google’s toolbar identified by Ben Edelman, I seem to have missed the follow-up that Google subsequently addressed his concerns. Thomas Claburn of Information Week reported:

Indeed, Google has acknowledged that its Toolbar wasn’t working as it should have been and has issued fix.

“To be clear, this is only an issue until a user restarts the browser, and it only affects the currently open tabs for a small number of users,” said a Google spokesperson in an e-mailed statement. “Specifically it affects those using Google Toolbar versions 6.3.911.1819 through 6.4.1311.42 in Internet Explorer, with enhanced features enabled, who chose to disable Toolbar without uninstalling it. Once the user restarts the browser, the issue is no longer present. A fix that doesn’t require a browser restart is now available on www.google.com/toolbar and in an automatic update to Google Toolbar that we are starting tomorrow.”

Update: See Ben Edelman’s comments below.

  2 Responses to “Google Fixes Toolbar Privacy Flaw – or Does It? (Updated)”

  1. Hi,

    I wouldn’t say Google’s changes “addressed my concern.” Quite the contrary: I identified the following specific practices, among others — none of which Google has addressed in any way, or even acknowledged in statements to the press or public:

    * Internally-inconsistent statements about what information is tracked (“sites” versus “URLs” — there’s a huge difference!)

    * Turning on Enhanced Features tracking with a single user keystroke: press Space or Enter once, at the end of installation, and the tracking is turned on.

    * Privacy Policy mentions Enhanced Features transmissions only on page, and with no tools to Copy, Search, Save, or Print the lengthy document.

    * Google Toolbar adds a button to a user’s Taskbar, with no disclosure or user consent whatsoever.

    These serious issues demand a response and a resolution. So far, Google has offered nothing of the kind.

    Ben Edelman

  2. Thanks, Ben. I hope that they will respond to the issues you raise.

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