Google Toolbar in the Dock?

Bloomberg reports that someone is suing Google, alleging that the Google Toolbar reports information back to the Google mothership.

The complaint, filed in federal court in San Jose, California, claims Google has misled users who download the software, used to search and browse the web, to believe they can disable features that transmit personal data to the company. The case, which seeks class-action, or group, status, was filed on behalf of Jason Weber of Brooklyn, New York.

The case is Weber v. Google, 10-05035, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. I went to the court website, but couldn’t find it on the docket; either I gave up too soon (one of my lawyer acquaintances tells me those aren’t the easiest websites to navigate) or it hasn’t made it to the public area of the website yet.

Google’s terms of service, linked in the story, state that the toolbar can be used without transmitting any personal information other than that needed to make a Google account (Gmail, etc.) functional within the toolbar.

I read through the Toolbar TOS. I will give Google credit for this; it is written in much plainer language that most similar documents. It’s not the language of an outfit that is trying to slip something over on folk. I’m inclined to think Google, for all it sometimes has goofed on privacy issues, is generally trying to deal in good faith.

I’ll enjoy watching this play out, but it doesn’t affect me directly. When the first major browser toolbar came out (was it Yahoo’s?), I looked at it and decided it was so much clutter; for my purposes, there was no benefit and a high annoyance level. My constant quest has been for a bigger browser window and a cleaner desktop, not for a smaller window with lots of superfluous doodads.

(That’s one reason I use the Fluxbox window manager: Highly configurable menus and hotkey bindings and no desktop icons by default , although there is an add-on for adding them on.)

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