Saturday, April 12, 2008

Google Searching Past Forms - Good, Not Bad

Google: A Clear & Present Danger to Corporate Data Privacy

Kevin Heisler, in his post on the Search Engine Watch blog, gives his opinion on how the new Google experiment to fill out certain on-line forms in order to index the "hidden web" behind them is a threat to privacy. I disagree.

If someone has private or confidential information posted on a web site, it is their responsibility to safeguard that information in whatever way possible. It is not the responsibility of Google to ignore it. If that information is so private that you don't want Google (or anyone else for that matter) to get at it, then you need to password protect and encrypt it, or take it off the web.

In their message about this on the official Google Webmaster Central Blog, it was clearly pointed out that Googlebot will not crawl past forms which require a user name and password. I think this is enough to allay anyone's fears about Google indexing private data.

Could Googlebot be reprogrammed to get past password protection and index private data? Sure it could. And Googlebot would join the hundreds of hackers who try to get into "secure" web sites every day - as show by the web logs on the sites I manage. Do I think Google would reprogram Googlebot this way? No I don't. It' s not part of their business model and it would waste their time and energy best spent elsewhere.

Again, if you don't want information you posted on the web to be accessed by anyone other than who you want to access it password protect and encrypt it or take it off the web.