"Consumers Should Not Use New Google Desktop", warns the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
A new feature on Google's new desktop version launched last Thursday, called Search Across Computer
"greatly increases the risk to consumer privacy", according to the EFF, a non-profit organisation that aims to protect civil liberties in the networked world.
The new tool will store copies of the user's Word documents, PDFs, spreadsheets and other text-based documents on Google's own servers for up to 30 days, to enable searching from any one of the user's computers.
EFF urges consumers not to use this feature, because it will make their personal data more vulnerable to subpoenas from the government and possibly private litigants, while providing a convenient one-stop-shop for hackers who've obtained a user's Google password.
Kapsersky labs gives out the same warning: "If an attacker can obtain your Google log-in details they will be able to access your confidential files," the company noted on its blog. It has also advised users against Google's new technology.
"Unless you configure Google Desktop very carefully, and few people will, Google will have copies of your tax returns, love letters, business records, financial and medical files, and whatever other text-based documents the desktop software can index," says Kevin Bankston, an EFF Staff Attorney.
"The government could then demand these personal files with only a subpoena rather than the search warrant it would need to seize the same things from your home or business, and in many cases you wouldn't even be notified in time to challenge it,continues Mr. Bankston.
The US government has indeed subpoenaed Google last month to hand over data about user search queries, which Google is fighting. For more information, see CDRinfo's previous news
The EFF further argued that the software highlights the lack of privacy protection in today's laws. It has urged Google to lobby US Congress to update privacy laws.
Google argues that the growing use of multiple computers by users makes the nes feature on its version 3 useful. "Too many people are working across multiple computers now," Google vice president Marissa Mayer told USA
Today. "This makes their lives easier."