How Google stops you hiding your location

Discussion in 'privacy general' started by lotuseclat79, Oct 31, 2010.

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  1. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

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    How Google stops you hiding your location.

    The real question is whose choice is it - the user's or Google's. If Google continues to refuse to give the user an opt-out on location, then the user seeking anonymity would naturally opt not to user Google searches anymore - there are plenty of alternatives to searching without using Google.

    -- Tom
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  2. CloneRanger

    CloneRanger Registered Member

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    I don't see the Anywhere near local links, with or without scripting ? In fact the top one is only about 10,000 miles out :D

    goo1.gif

    Am i doing something right or ?
     
  3. vasa1

    vasa1 Registered Member

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    This is exactly the point. The incessant "Google does this, Google does that" is quite tiring (with privacy dominating security). You have a choice. Use it.
     
  4. katio

    katio Guest

    Plenty?
    I wish.
    There's bing and yahoo and a few smaller one. They all don't give me as relevant results as I get from Google.
    The only alternative with good results is scroogle, and it isn't really an "alternative"...
     
  5. Eice

    Eice Registered Member

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    The title of the article is quite misleading.

    Opting out of location-based searches does not offer you any anonymity. Every server between your ISP and Google inclusive know where you are regardless of whether you enable location-based search or not. While I don’t think it’s a good idea either for Google to impose this restriction on users, to say that they’re “stopping users from hiding their location” is a flat joke at best.

    As for an alternative, I've had decent success with Bing; it's a viable substitute, as far as I'm concerned.
     
  6. LockBox

    LockBox Registered Member

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    As far as alternatives, if you're only talking search there are several. However, Google News searches (for example, being able to narrow down within 24-hours) and some others are fairly unique.

    I'm surprised there are so many willing to defend Google and their Corporate Big Brother tactics here at Wilders. A couple of posters seem to make it their mission in the privacy forums to defend Google. Talk about an oxymoronic activity.

    Privacy and Google, in no way, co-exist. No matter how hard one wants to answer legitimate questions with a question in return. The facts simply are too clear that Google is a privacy invader of the first order. Some governments in this world are untarnished by Google lobbying money and are taking appropriate action.
     
  7. hierophant

    hierophant Registered Member

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    Anybody who really cares about being pseudonymous or anonymous will use Tor and/or a multi-hop VPN with strong privacy and security. Given that, it's not true that "[e]very server between your ISP and Google inclusive know where you are". Only the first knows that.
     
  8. Eice

    Eice Registered Member

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    Well, obviously that has nothing to do with whether Google's location-based search is turned on either now, does it?
     
  9. DasFox

    DasFox Registered Member

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    To bad Xerobanks free browser doesn't work all that hot, when and if it ever connects... But then again if they made the free service decent, no one would pay for the service they offer.


    Well the BIG QUESTION then is, who's as good a search engine as Google and I don't mean what we all like and think, but if there is some actual fact as to who the next competition is?
     
  10. hierophant

    hierophant Registered Member

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    As long as geolocation via wifi router MAC address is disabled, that's true.

    Honestly, Eice, most people are so careless (literally) about online security that it's hard to be sympathetic when they get hosed in one way or another. OTOH, although Google is far from the only Big Brother on the net, they stand out because of their reach. Also, their "do no evil" motto invites one to apply higher standards (as unfair as that may be).
     
  11. nightrace

    nightrace Registered Member

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    Use a metaseach engine with a decent privacy policy, preferably one not hosted in the US of A.

    http://www.etools.ch/
     
  12. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

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    I confess to not understanding what is going on: does Google automatically return searches according to location?

    I searched for "flowers", and nothing returns near my area:

    googlesearch_1.gif


    Then I search for "flowers los angeles" and get lots of hits in the area, which is what I would expect:


    googlesearch_2.gif

    I notice a "search location box" so I enter "los angeles california" and get a "location not recognized" message. I enable scripts and cookies and still get that:


    googlesearch_3.gif

    So, do I have to "opt-in" somehow?

    thanks,

    rich
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2010
  13. Fiat_Lux

    Fiat_Lux Registered Member

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    Personally I uses www.scroogle.org , just use the link where it says "Scroogle scraper" and make a permanent link to the scroogle searcher .
    It use google but strips it of personal info : http://www.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/scraper.htm
    Reason why I included link to site root above is so you may learn about the site , when Scroogle are up I don't use anything else, and b.t.w. I absolutely loathe Bing !
     
  14. Fiat_Lux

    Fiat_Lux Registered Member

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    Hi Rich,
    Don't know if this will help you but it was what I could find in a jiffy :
    Location Features - Web Search Help
    My Location Master advanced features - Toolbar Help
     
  15. nightrace

    nightrace Registered Member

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  16. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    Rmus, the Google screen I get is much like yours, except not in English.

    Except where you see 'search near' it auto-detects my city plus zip code.

    No opt-out.

    I do have wireless wifi (although encrypted) and that may have something to do with this. I thought the Google streetview cars had not been near my area (Europe), but I could be wrong. The MAC address may also have been located otherwise. I wonder if I'll have the same issue if I get a non-wireless router ? What databases exist, I don't know. My ISP asssigns my IP based on the router's MAC.

    I'll have to do something about this. Maybe I should stop using a router.

    For as far as I know I don't use any (other) geolocation services.
     
  17. Cudni

    Cudni Global Moderator

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  18. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    I have never used Firefox and I don't believe it's that safe.
    IE 7 on this machine. It doesn't have any geolocation.

    I don't use Java either. Disabling javascript probably isn't that practical. Besides, Google has my MAC, right ?
     
  19. hierophant

    hierophant Registered Member

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    @Fly

    I believe that I understand. Once Google and other geolocation services have the latitude-longitude of your wifi router's MAC, they assign that location to your IP address. So, even if you're using IE7, which doesn't implement geolocation, Google can report the precise location using your IP address.

    Have you tried connecting through a VPN? If that changes the location that Google reports, you have your answer.

    As I've noted, I wouldn't use a wifi router.
     
  20. katio

    katio Guest

    From what Google so far told us, MAC based geolocation is only enabled when you install their toolbar. Maybe they now use the built in geolocation of some browsers but you'd get a warning. If you never allowed that Google certainly didn't get your location that way.

    This doesn't work with dynamic IPs. However there is a way, even circumventing the geolocation API: Drive around with your google cars, map MACs to IPs, then map google cookies to IPs. That would be sneaky. The only workaround, don't use WIFI or delete cookies.

    Based on this I'd say they get your zip code solely based on the IP record.
     
  21. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    To use a VPN I'd have to pay for it, right ? Any 'free' way to test that ?

    I can actually manually enter a fake city+zip code. However, occasionally it switches back to auto-detection.
     
  22. katio

    katio Guest

    torproject.org
     
  23. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    I wouldn't trust a single statement made by Google.
    Didn't they revise their 'privacy policy' recently ?

    Technically my IP is dynamic, but it is static most of the time. Cable broadband. The name, host name/machine name (?) could be used as a unique identifier ?

    Deleting existing cookies doesn't work. The city plus zip code automatically resets. Even CCleaner is not helpful here. Neither is restoring an image.

    The thing is, I just happened to notice this city plus zip code thing AFTER I HAD JUST INSTALLED SERVICE PACK 3 PLUS SOME UPDATES. Maybe that's coincidence, maybe not. After all those updates I noticed that IE 7 had a Windows messenger BHO/browser extension, and another one. Maybe something was slipped in with SP3 plus the updates ? If that was the case, restoring a 'clean' image didn't help, though.

    And something else: many months ago, when I googled for the weather Google automatically detected my city ! Even though some IP lookup tools came up with different cities.

    Obviously Google is able to locate me. Perhaps there are databases with MAC addresses that can be used for this purpose ? I didn't get my router from my ISP.

    I do have another computer that I usually don't connect to the internet. I have never used my router with that machine. Until I have dealt with this issue I'm even more reluctant to connect that computer to the internet.

    The thing is, once information is 'out there', it is impossible to get the genie back in the bottle. At times I get spam emails that address me by name ! At least twice they didn't just have my name, but also my address !
    I have always been reluctant about putting my personal details on the internet. But data get shared, leaked, stolen, sold and there is nothing you can do once that has happened.
     
  24. katio

    katio Guest

    No.

    Did you monitor your IP lately, has it changed since you created this thread https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=284930 ?

    Posted last month. Disconnecting the modem for a few minutes might help.

    I still believe this has nothing to do with wifi/MAC based geolocation. Otherwise they'd now your street or block. It's opt-in and if you or someone else didn't click on anything it's pretty much impossible Google got the zip code that way. I think it's coincidence, Google recently added the location "feature".

    One thing I forgot: Have a look at your IPs reverse DNS or what it's called. If it contains anything unique besides your IP address (usually looks like 12-34-567-890.some.DNS.name.your-ISP.com) that can uniquely identify despite having a dynamic IP.
     
  25. hierophant

    hierophant Registered Member

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    Mullvad.net has a free trial.
     
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