[thelist] PageRank changes for different versions of same URL

Stuart Young syoung at unitec.ac.nz
Mon May 17 02:48:56 CDT 2004

> What's the spyware part in the google toolbar?

Admittedly the spyware part is only in the Advanced features that you
specifically have to turn-on, and Google do provide a privacy warning
when you do this. 


checking PageRank is part of the Advanced features so it is Spyware in
the context of this thread which was about checking PageRank.

Some spyware checking software does not classify Google Toolbar
(advanced) as spyware because this information - every URL you visit -
is not used maliciously, 

there is lots of discussion about this if you do a search for "Google
toolbar spyware".
some people describe it as "optional spyware" 
others say, its OK because they use the info "to make its search engine
more useful, as opposed to using it to gather information about you to
sell you tailored advertisements" 

Google-watch is more concerned about the automatic updates:

"6.   Google's toolbar is spyware:
With the advanced features enabled, Google's free toolbar for Explorer
phones home with every page you surf, and yes, it reads your cookie too.
Their privacy policy confesses this, but that's only because Alexa lost
a class-action lawsuit when their toolbar did the same thing, and their
privacy policy failed to explain this. Worse yet, Google's toolbar
updates to new versions quietly, and without asking. This means that if
you have the toolbar installed, Google essentially has complete access
to your hard disk every time you connect to Google (which is many times
a day). Most software vendors, and even Microsoft, ask if you'd like an
updated version. But not Google. Any software that updates automatically
presents a massive security risk."

"Let me explain what is different about the Google toolbar that keeps
it from being targeted as spyware like many other third party toolbars.
Google uses its page rank system to make its search engine more useful,
as opposed to using it to gather information about you to sell you
tailored advertisements. You are not a source of income to Google.com,
except as a site visitor looking at the same ads everyone else sees,
toolbar or no toolbar.

Google goes to great lengths to explain that, in their own words, there
may be privacy issues with some of the features, and provides an
alternate download where those features are disabled. You have to go out
of your way to find and activate those features. Contrast this behavior
to some other toolbar makers who use activex to spread like trojans,
gather statistical data on the user to present them with "more relevent
special offers", forcibly reset browser settings, and make it damned
hard to remove.

Google does make money on it in a roundabout way, because these
features make their search engine more accurate and useful, which makes
more people likely to use it and click the ads they sell on the site.
The ads, by the way, are determined by the keywords you search for, NOT
where you've been surfing, unlike many of the other toolbars. You'd see
the same ads with or without the toolbar installed.

So, is the Google toolbar spyware? No, it is not. "

whats the answer, I don't know.


Dr Stuart Young,       +64 (0)9-815 4321 Ex 8656
<syoung at unitec.ac.nz>     
Lecturer, School of Computing and Information Technology,
Unitec New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand
I would provide a URL for my official staffpage, but its too long and

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