Looks like I'll need to dig up more links to prove to you Starkers that MS does the same thing. Google is not as evil as you think. They all are.
Kona, you are missing my point. I'm not saying that MS and/or others don't collect data... or that they aren't somehow evil in their own way. What I am saying is that I see Google as being more evil... because they scour the net for all kinds of information and seek to profit from it ALL. Not only that, Google is persistently in your face with annoying advertising that attempts to part you from your hard come by cash.... and that pisses me off severely, which is why I block Google at every opportunity.
So in a nutshell, kona, there is absolutely nothing you can say or do to change my mind... Google is a scavenging parasite: period.
Do you block Google on this site?
I block Google at every opportunity on every site.
If you post on almost any site then you are knowingly giving away your data.
Go to http://network-tools.com/default.asp?prog=trace&host=www.immi.gov.au It will show yoru route across the internet. At every stop a server marks who you are, where you want to go, and where you came from.
I know all this, Zubs, really, I do. However, you too are missing my point! For example, my ISP knows that I visit this site and others, but it does not bombard me with interest related ads... Google would, if I let it. My ISP sends me a monthly newsletter with a number of promotions and special deals, but I subscribe to that and can opt out at any time... Google does not provide an opt out, its advertising is pesristently there unless blocked.
Furthermore, while data is disseminated across the net, point of origin and destination data (cookies and etc) largely remains untouched on servers. It is used mostly for speed, efficiency and re-routing purposes, though government and various law enforcement agencies do have access to it when necessary, and undestandably so, given how much internet crime there is.
However, Google uses this point of origin/destination data to target users with localised ads and other unsolicited/unwelcomed crap. I sure as Hell don't want to see it, but there is no opt out unless I go to extremes and install NoScript and AdBlock Pro to block Google's slimy tentacles... and I should not have to go to this extreme of installing what is for me, otherwise unnecessary software.
Yes, these things piss me off, but what really irks me is Google's incessant trawling of the net and using personal information for the purpose of adsvertising. For example, my ex-brother-in-law (and he's nobody important), has a Google page revealing quite a bit about him.... stuff he'd rather not be public knowledge. Nevertheless it's there and my niece curiously did a Google search on him to discover her father has a criminal record and that she has a (similarly aged) half brother and sister she knew nothing about.
It was later revealed that most of this information was gleaned from dating sites and other forums he visited. However, also included with those search results were numerous ads for dating agencies, sex aids and escort sevices, etc. That is what I object to... the use of one's personal information purely to profit from associated advertising.... and nobody can tell me that is right.