A Rojo, Google & My Privacy Story

Nervous about your privacy on the ‘net and your ability to control it? I’d like to tell you an uplifting story about one company, Rojo, and the behemoth search company, Google, and what happened with my privacy.

I often look at the referring pages to see how people have come to my blog or any given post within it. It’s enlightening to see where people came from (which often surprises and delights me) and also to see the various search strings that ultimately led someone to click on one of my posts.

Someone did a search in Google for “steve borsch”+ Eden Prairie and ten results were displayed. Much to my horror, one of them had my full signature (address, phone, mobile #, etc.) in it. It turns out Rojo, two years earlier, had inadvertently exposed bug reports publically and Google had spidered them, rendering them searchable (Note: this inadvertent exposure by Rojo was fixed long ago).

Though it’s simple to find just about anyone and data about them if you’re search savvy, this was far too naked of an exposure. I immediately contacted Rojo through email. Did my email fall in to a black hole at Rojo? What was the likelihood that a major company like Google — enbroiled with Justice Department data requests and the shitstorm around cooperating with China on their search restrictions — would care at all about some guys exposed information being brought to their attention by a feed reader company?

I received a reply from Barbara in Rojo customer support within a day of my contacting them:

Matt (Director of Operations) forwarded your message on to me and let me begin by saying that we are really, really sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you .  From what I understand, this was an issue that originated from a mistake made a couple of years ago when things were first set up. It has been fixed.

We have been trying to get Google to pull the residual information that now is left on their site.  Unfortunately as you can see, we have had little success. Please be assured that we will continue to work with Google on it…

Two days later I received this:

I got an update from our team with some good news, Google has finally agreed to remove the information. This is what they said:

Please be assured that we’ll delete our cached copies of these pages as soon as possible.

After we delete the cached copy of a page, the page’s title and URL will continue to display for the same search queries until our robots revisit the site. Users will still be able to visit the live page. Because this information has been removed from the live page, this page will not return as a result for searches on related keywords after our next crawl. We appreciate your patience during this process.

When I pulled up your search again, all the information appears to have been removed. You still have our deepest apologies that this situation ever happened. Thank you for your patience while we worked this out and and please feel free to email us at anytime.

My jaw hit the floor! I instantly searched on Google and it was gone! I was absolutely stunned and blown away that this would have been taken care of at all…let alone within three days of my original request.

Huge kudos to Rojo and that they would even bother to expend the energy to handle this matter for some guy out here in the ‘net wilderness. This speaks volumes about their values, their integrity and their support. Hats off too to Google that they actually responded to Rojo, performed the cache purge, communicated with them effectively and made this right so quickly.

We all hear far too many stories about the lack of integrity in the world, that Google is spiraling toward doing evil, and that all the Web 2.0 companies are understaffed, underfunded and can’t scale (especially with their support communications). I am so pleased with what happened and wanted to shout it in to the blogosphere.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Connecting the Dots Podcast

Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.