Want privacy? Don't give up your personal data.
That's the gist of the brouhaha that followed Google Inc.'s release this week of an upgrade to its Google Desktop software, which can store files from a PC on the company's server.
Among the enhancements in the new version of the product, which is available by download, is a feature called Search Across Computers, which allows people to choose files on their hard drives that they want Google to automatically index, store and track on its servers, and make accessible over the Web from any computer. People can disable the feature, if they don't want files stored online.
Nevertheless, even the vocal critics of the Mountain View, Calif., search engine agree that Google is not the villain with a black hat in offering to store personal data. "But, it's at least wearing a grey hat," Kevin Bankston, staff attorney for privacy advocate the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said.