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FUDBusters: Data Gathering in the Corporate Environment

FUDBust: Google's Gmail already has been established as a potential vulnerability to user privacy and security, and it's probably just the tip of the iceberg. True, tools such as the increasingly popular Blinkx don't actually host users' Web content off-site, as Gmail does. However, any software that relies on advertising dollars must gather information about user contents on its servers and make contextual advertising decisions based upon that data.

Of course, these companies have no intention of externalizing this data. Blinkx, for example, plans to pull mathematical models back to its servers, rather than search phrases and/or keywords. But, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Before you implement software that sends information about your company's data to an off-site location, you should demand full accountability from the vendor. Ask how the data will be protected and how long it will remain on the vendor's servers. And ask vendors for a precise explanation of how their software functions. If they are unable or unwilling to answer these questions, don't let them in.