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The Google Trap The Google Trap - Gerald Reischl writes about the dangerous company Google - Page 2

Google gives in

July 9th, 2008

 It took a long time. Ten years to be exact. As of today - at least I only noticed it this morning - Google has added a “privacy” note on its homepage. It’s called “privacy” on and “data protection” (Datenschutz) on The link to the privacy-guidelines can be found next to the “copyright”-symbol, where the “Google” logo was formerly positioned.
Until now Google had refused to add this notice on its homepage, because it would destroy the design. I have written about this a month ago. What does this rethinking imply? If you exert enough pressure, the company reacts. Google can only be forced to disclose its methods or to change them if a discussion develops.

US-antitrust commission reviews Google-Yahoo deal

July 9th, 2008

Even antitrust groups in the US finally became upset about the mega cooperation between Google and Yahoo. According to an article published in the New York Times the US department of justice launched a formal investigation regarding the advertising deal between the two companies. Experts had been asked to assess the Google-Yahoo advertising partnership for antitrust implications.

Not only Google- and Yahoo experts were being interviewed, but also Microsoft representatives. We will see what happens and if the colourful Google-logo and the charismatic Google CEO Eric Schmidt will blind the antitrust commissioners. Schmidt never seems to get tired of assuring how important the deal is for the Internet, for us users. I remember one of his statements when Microhoo was still a topic: this merger endangers the freedom of the web. Have the Romans gone berserk? Sorry: the Mountain Viewers?

It is perfectly logical: if the number one merges with the number two on the market, a highly questionable dominance will develop. Let me repeat one of my comparisons again: what would the world be like, if nine out of ten cars were VW-Golfs? Volkswagen would definitely be more than pleased. Or if you could only choose among one milk and one yoghurt at a supermarket… if you only had “Müllermilch” on the shelves?

Voices critical of Google can now also be heard in the USA. “Until now, Google was always careful not to show predatory behaviour,” says Christine A. Varnie from the law firm Hogan & Hartson. Varney used to be a member of the (US) Federal Trade Commission. “But a cooperation such as this is completely anticompetitive.”

I am always bemused but also worried about Google representatives that say, “We are certain that our agreements are fair and competitive.” How blind can one be? Until September, a decision will be made…

I ask myself, when the EU will finally inspect Google’s market-dominance and will realize how dangerous this information monopoly is to society? When a single company dominates more than 90% of the web searches and ads, the term “monopoly” can easily be applied. And I wrote this on the cover page of my book: “The market domination by Google is dangerous for society. It allows for political censorship (as it is practiced in China), simplifies spying on user privacy and does not allow criticism or competition.” And the only information we get is what the search engine defines as “Google-correct”…

And Google remains silent…

July 9th, 2008

Oftentimes I am asked how Google reacted to the “Google Trap”. Had they threatened to sue or had they commented in any way to the numerous reproaches made? Nothing. To this day there has not been an official or an unofficial comment by Google to the “Google-Trap”. Except for one interview with the European Policy Counsel of Google - “Google’s liaison officer for political issues”, Annette Kroeber-Riel, was confronted by with facts from the book and simply considered them to be “rumours and speculations.” So far, Google has not made an official statement, because they want to avoid that the discussions about the topics in the book, which are now increasingly discussed in various media, continue to become more intensive.

Google is up to every PR trick: the best reaction to criticism is not to react and to continue providing the Internet community with positive news. People should not get the wrong ideas. A recent example is the article “Voyage through the Google-Republic”, which was published on the “Futurezone” yesterday.
It included a very amusing paragraph:

This is what Google says
Google spokesman Kay Oberbeck answered the question, why large website operators in Germany and Austria ignore their information-responsibility towards users (whereby Google’s own user terms were clearly breached), with: this is a “good question” and he would try to get more information if sanctions were being imposed. has now been waiting for more than two weeks for his answer.

Futurezone will have to wait for a long time, since Google-spokesman Oberbeck is known for not answering critical questions and sweeping problems under the table. It is Google’s PR tactic to play “dead” if matters become too hot.

Google is everything but an “open” corporation; it only pretends to be one. Google was confronted with two dozen critical questions, while I researched facts for my book, and I, too, had to wait for many weeks before I received an answer. After having contacted Oberbeck on his cell phone, he said that he had reacted to my questions – most of them were answered with the usual “we cannot comment on this” or “we are not allowed to comment on this”.

Therefore I appeal to everybody who wants more background on Google and who is not interested in their self-adulation and only positive-stories, which are published by various Google-blogs: put more pressure on Google and force them to take a stand on all topics you confront them with. Data protection and privacy concerns us all.

+ I would be interested to find out, if and how the implementation of Google Analytics is legally covered. This free of charge web analysis tool is an obvious prying program.
+ Who has access to the collected data, why does Google cooperate with authorities in totalitarian states, etc.?

There is a long list of questions. I am planning to publish them online soon… maybe we, as users, can find answers, especially if Google continues to remain silent.

Attention: Google visits every website at the same time you do

May 1st, 2008

Normally I try not to write about topics that will be published in the Newspaper KURIER. On the occasion of this topic, a recently announced Google-revelation, I had to make an exception…

Surprises are usually exciting and, for kids at least, a lot of fun… Google is excellent for surprises, yet they usually have a dire aftertaste.

Not many people know that some services, even if Google does not brand them, are still a part of the company. A new service developed by the Austrian search engine specialist (and creator of the search engine Walter Karban, shows that Google does more data collection and active spying, than initially thought…


Karbans service,, analyzes the Internet and identifies connections – which subdomains are on a specific domain, which pages link to a specific website and – this is the important part – which external services are used on a website. With one can inspect not only every website, but especially Google services.

83 percent of the top-300,000 webpages connect – without their users knowing – to Google servers. For instance: when you connect to the website of the German magazine “Spiegel”, its servers, in turn, connect to Google servers… If, for example, one connects to,, or, all pages that imply personal interests or data, Google saves user statistics with its online tool Google Analytics, which is available for free online…

How does work?
If you go on the service’s website and click on “Domain-Info”, you can query any website you would like to know more about. If the search isn’t successful, the service maps the desired domain, allowing you to view the information 30 minutes later. You can then inspect a list of subdomains, links and a complete listing of external services on the site – this may include different Google services, like “Googlesyndication” (Google AdWords), DoubleClick, YouTube or Google Analytics.

And the power of Google Analytics is evident – it creates useful user-statistics and saves interesting data. This includes IP-addresses, which (independent of whether they are static or dynamic), can be called personal data. They can be analyzed or, in combination with Google cookies, used to generate very detailed user information.


It is especially interesting when you select “traxx detail” or “see the traxx” in regard to Google Analytics under the “external services” section. If you click on “Javascript”, details on which information is sent to Google become visible – you can test that on your own. Next week I will commence another campaign regarding this issue…


And one final detail: The “Javascript” technology implemented by Google Analytics even makes it possible to save the location and button-states of your mouse. And everything is sent to Google. And there, the data can, after identification of your IP address, be processed and brought into connection with an individual. This may then show who “secretly” uses sex-portals.

And by the way, there are skeptics in Austria’s IT-offices. There is no official recommendation not to use Google, but still no Ministry – apart from one exception – uses Google Analytics for its online services. And those that – due to the lack of better knowledge – do use Google Analytics, will hopefully implement a different technology soon. The IT-officers of the ÖVP, SPÖ and Greens should follow this advice – the political story can be read in tomorrow’s KURIER, page 24.

Googolopoly instead of Monopoly

April 29th, 2008

Google is a dangerously funny Company – young, colorful and very liberal, almost a harlequin Ikea-Kindergarden for adults. One could even call it a playground – a description that can be found on Google’s page “Google’s technology playground.”

It is almost logical that this playground in Mountain View is inspiring to even those that do not live in the Lego-colored flower-power-paradise: The website recently launched a new version of Monopoly called Googolopoly because: „we often come to the conclusion that Google’s way to do business with other companies and interest in controlling the information age makes the company look more and more like the software monopoly of yesteryears. Overall, it’s questionable whether such a powerful position made the world better or worse.“ More and more people arrive at the same question – is Google’s power (some even say it is a monopoly) good for the world? I say: NO!
With “Googolopoly”, which is available here, one can explore the world of the powerful people behind Google and learn to play with the properties of the Internet. The goal of the game, as explained by, is to acquire a large number of companies without ending up in the Deadpools in the corners of the playing field. You have to work like Google – quickly eat all start-ups before they become dangerous to your business model. Google is a datamine, a monster, a Googzilla….

Where are Google’s Server-Farms?

April 29th, 2008

The Google-System consists of a network of thousands and thousands of computers and servers, which contain data of 60% of all internet-users worldwide. These systems are spread over all continents, containing more information about some users, less about others. It’s always a question of how much the individual user reveals online.

The exact number of Google-Server-Farms is a well-kept secret. Some experts believe that there are seven, others are convinced that the company maintains twenty-five. Likewise, the number of servers at the Googleplex in Mountain View can only be guessed. Approximations range from 100,000 to 450,000, which would be twice the number of computers at Microsoft. Christoph Pichler, an internet-marketing expert at CPC-Consulting, has found a map of all of Google’s data centers on Pingdom. It shows a world-map with publicized locations of the individual server farms. Overall, there appear to be 36, of which 12 are in Europe. I believe this map includes every Google establishment, not only server locations.
Google Data Centers
This secretive behavior is simply a protective measure against potential attacks – Google does not want to become a potential target.

4 Stars for the Book “Die Google-Falle”

April 29th, 2008

I was aware that my book, “Die Google-Falle” (“The Google-Trap”) will have a polarizing effect on the public – even whilst writing it. I was also certain that there will be critics – but I am still surprised by some of the too subjective and unfair reviews.

It gives me great pleasure that one of the most important reviewers on Amazon, Dr. Werner Fuchs (who has written more than 1486 online reviews), gave me a good critique and concluded with a rating of four stars. I consider this a distinction, allowing me to conclude how important the topic online-privacy is and how urgently a Google-warning and list of its true colors was needed.

GFDr. Werner Fuchs’ review:

There is no protective measure against conspiracy theorists
Whether we consider the moon landing, the death of a princess or 9/11, whoever scents a conspiracy, cannot be reached by rational arguments. But there are also conspiracy theorists that intend to amend a conspiracy theory to others, allowing themselves to maintain a certain view of the world. These types of critics gave Gerald Reischl’s book just the minimum rating. Their alacrity made them even write an Amazon-discussion – yet they are unaware of the significance of objective research required for writing a book. And even though these online-rants seldom have any significance, I strongly oppose censorship in any form. It is simply the price that we have to pay for a diversity of opinion. And now to the actual review.

The journalist and author Gerald Reischl dared to question Google. He was aware that this will most probably spur a lot of discussion. Whether one considers a sports-club or company, a true fan is characterized by his lack of neutrality and objectivity. I also suffer under this condition – the ZSC Lions ARE the best ice hockey club, there is no question about that. But Gerald Reischl doesn’t solely want to highlight the downsides of Google. He simply looks at those aspects of the company that haven’t been considered before, concludes on what they really mean and publicized his results. And if he isn’t the first to do so, that’s even better! Since Google has chosen my birthplace and hometown as its European capital, I have been affected by the overwhelming Google-euphoria. All Google critics are criticized. But I am also affected every time I find out how little the Google-fans know about the company. One does not have to be a paranoid privacy-advocate to consider the potential dangers of the concentration of (economic) power. One does not have to disconnect from the Internet or eradicate all mobile phones after reading this book – in fact, nothing has to be done. But one may see the online world with other eyes. And this is precisely what is expected from serious journalists.

I have asked myself how the book’s contents could be presented in a more attractive fashion to the young audience that should read it – even though Gerald Reischl is excellent at writing in the casual tone of modern journalism, his book is not one of the most entertaining and exciting I have read in the past weeks. The lack of pictures, modern layout features and changes in contextual rhythm make the book a rather tedious journey through 190 monotonous pages. This creates a potential danger that the most important messages of the book will never reach the internet-users that will define a lot of our future.

Conclusion: Next to all optimistic enshrinements of Google, controversial books like this one from Gerald Reischl are absolutely necessary. Some may put it off as all-words-and-no-content, but I liked it, even though its message could be mediated through a better presentation. But the lack of good literary presentation cannot be equated with a lack of content.

The Alternatives to 47 Google-Services

April 29th, 2008

How expensive would it be to replace Google? This admittedly fascinating question was asked at the beginning when Google’s economic impact was being evaluated. It was examined which opportunity costs would arise for users and the economy, if Google would close down at short notice. In order to conduct such a calculation the marketing analysts KREUTZER FISCHER & PARTNER based in Vienna, at first examined the services provided by competitors during the corresponding period (November 2007). Investigations took place to find out which alternatives were available providing services similar to those supplied by Google.

In a second step it was examined which direct and indirect costs would arise if one were to switch to another service instead of Google. The “management theoretician” Michael E. Porter describes these kinds of adjustment costs as “conversion costs”. The higher these conversion costs are, the larger the damage, which would be caused if Google-services would be terminated.

The examination included 47 Google services ranging from Web Search, Google’s actual browser, to You Tube, the video portal, which had been purchased by Google just shortly before. Possible qualitative losses in case of a conversion were not taken into consideration, since - understandably- there was no agreement among the community.
Below you will find a list of alternatives for the various Google services compiled by KREUTZER FISCHER & PARTNER:


EU restrictions for the data loggers Google & Co.

April 29th, 2008

The report is titled “Opinion on data protection issues related to search engines” and encompasses 29 pages, including the cover sheet and table of contents. It was put together by the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party. The group is made up of European data security officers, which have worked on this report during the last months. They closely examined search engines and their relationship to data protection. Search engine & data protection sounds somewhat like a contradiction, if I think of my own research… Google and DoubleClick, Microsoft and Yahoo – a lot of things are going on in the search engine business. Not only with respect to acquisitions.

Should the claims, which the Article 29 group has worked on, become reality and EU-restrictions, this would have a huge impact on Google & Co. In any case, the measures to be taken, which have been suggested by the Article 29 group, confirm the deplorable circumstances that have been revealed by the “Google Trap”.

Shady data collections
One of the most severe grievances is the uncontrolled passion of collecting data. Google & Co. collect too much personalized data and offer no explanation whatsoever why they need this information to begin with. Furthermore, the collected information is saved much too long – some operators even save the data indefinitely. A period of six months would be absolutely sufficient, anything exceeding this amount of time is simply not justifiable.

Excessive storage period
Google even stores data for a period of 18 months. The data protectors are now demanding that the search engines must demonstrate and explain why such a long period of storage is necessary. In a first statement, Peter Fleischer, Google’s head “data protector” insisted on the 18 months – this would be the only way to maintain a high search quality.

Cookies stored too long
The Article 29 group also criticizes cookies, which are installed on our computers. Cookies are protocol files, which are loaded onto the computer while you surf the web, “present” us with a distinctive identity number, make a protocol of our surf habits and finally offer this data to the web-operator. Some cookies are valid for decades. That means if you do not delete them, you are identifiable for decades (at least theoretically, since the computer will probably have been replaced during that time.)

User profiles
The information, which has been collected by these cookies, allow an exact compilation of user profiles. Especially if they have been enriched with information from other sources – something, which is often the case and has been explained in the “Google Trap”. Just think of the numerous patents Google already owns in the categories user-tracking, user-analyzing, etc.

Right to have a data entry corrected
Information on registered users is even more detailed. According to the Article 29 group they should be allowed access to their data collection, in order to delete, correct or update the information.

Google & Co. will be facing difficult times: in the coming weeks, the unsubstantiated and uncontrolled collection of data will stay a much discussed topic - for sure.

Google wants a clear record – and is selling Performics

April 29th, 2008

Putting pressure on Google can be successful: The EU had approved Google’s DoubleClick-Deal on 11. March. On the following day, it became clear that DoubleClick possesses a so-called search engine optimizer, on account of a company acquisition with Performics in 2004. The prestigious search engine expert Danny Sullivan called upon Google in an open letter that same day and requested Google to get rid of this company immediately. It was unheard of that a search engine owns a company, which is specialized on selling tips how to be positioned at the top of search results.

This morning, Chrisoph Pichler from CPC Consulting made me aware of a recent entry on the official Google Blog: Tom Phillips, one of the Google Directors, who is responsible for the integration of DoubleClick into the Google system, writes that Performics will be sold to a “third party”. It will be interesting to find out, who this “third party” will be. I will keep on checking this.

The Performics story also makes something else obvious: public resistance can make a difference. One should therefore put more pressure on Google in connection with the data- and privacy protection and data collection, as well as a continuous discussion of human rights. Only then will things change!