Forbes profiles hacker Moxie Marlinspike, who has created a new online tool to avoid Google’s data collection while using its services. Note that this tool does allow Marlinspike to see users’ activities (explanation below):
Google offers Web users a simple trade-off: Let the search giant track a substantial portion of your comings and goings around the Web, and it will offer you a free, superior online experience. […]
On Tuesday, Marlinspike launched a service he calls Googlesharing, a plug-in for Firefox designed to give users access to Google’s online offerings while cloaking their identity from the company’s data collection tools. By hosting a proxy server with a collection of Google “identities,” the privacy software, which can be accessed at Googlesharing.net, will allow users to temporarily route their traffic through another computer that masks their identity by mixing their online actions with those of other users.
“Each identity looks like a normal user, but everything is mixed up between identities so Google can’t track any individual,” says Marlinspike. That means users can exploit any of Google’s offerings that don’t require logins, such as search, maps or news, without allowing Google to assemble a profile of their activities that can be used for advertising targeting–or, as some users might fear, information that could be subpoenaed by government investigators. […]
Still, there’s one person from whom Googlesharing doesn’t necessarily hide users’ activities: Marlinspike himself. To solve that dilemma, Marlinspike is also offering up Googlesharing’s code to anyone who wishes to create his or her own proxy. “If you don’t trust us, you can find someone who you do trust,” he says. […]
[He] has a history of publicizing hacking techniques that could allow cybercriminals to impersonate Web sites, even those that are supposedly secure.
But like many hackers, Marlinspike argues that those revelations were meant to make browsing safer by exposing vulnerabilities so they can be fixed. And he points out that he has far less to gain than an advertiser from exploiting your online history.
A Google spokeswoman responded in a statement that Google believes “transparency and choice are the foundations of privacy, which is why we give users meaningful choices about what information they provide to Google and to others.”