Google Picasa steals e-mail address and sends it to company

Discussion in 'Computer Security' started by ND, Jul 17, 2004.

  1. ND

    ND Guest

    I downloaded and installed Picasa, a very nice image browser, that was just
    bought by Google and made available for free. When I launched it, my
    firewall started giving me warnings that the program was trying to connect
    to the Internet. After a while I let it go through since I knew that the
    program checks for updates. While it may have done that, it also searched
    on my hard drive, recorded my e-mail address, and sent it to Picasa. I
    shortly after that received an e-mail from Picasa thanking me for
    registering! Here's what their readme says:


    Privacy and Automatic Update

    Picasa sends two pieces of information to its servers each time if checks
    for an update. We send the following:

    * Version number ("build 2.83")
    * Whether you're a registered or trial user ("trial" or "registered")

    That's it. We don't track serial numbers or any other information that
    identifies you. We only collect information so we know what to test for
    future releases, and how to keep our support information current.

    If you register with us we will send you email from time to time, but you
    can opt-out from each email or from our website. We don't ever share our
    email lists.

    If you do not want Picasa to automatically check for updates, you can
    disable it by choosing Options on the Tools menu in the Picasa application.
    You can then check for updates manually using "Check for Updates Online" in
    Picasa's Help menu.


    Unfortunately, I never registered but I did receive an e-mail from the
    company. So the program apparently searches the hard drive for default e-
    mail address and sends it to the company.

    Here's the e-mail that I received:


    From: "Picasa" <>
    To: <+++++++++++++++++++>
    Subject: Picasa Tips to help you get started
    Date: +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Dear Registered Picasa User:

    As a way of saying 'Thanks!' for registering your copy of Picasa, I thought
    I'd pass along a few tips to help you get the most out of Picasa- the
    award-winning software used by hundreds of thousands of digital camera

    1. Run a slide show by selecting an album from the album list and clicking
    the 'slideshow' button. Try pausing a slideshow by pressing the space bar.
    You can then adjust the interval between slides by clicking on the arrow
    buttons in the lower right part of the screen.

    2. Add music to your slideshow by selecting 'tools/options/slideshow', and
    selecting 'Play MP3 tracks during slideshow' - you can then specify the
    folder where the MP3 songs are that you'd like to play. While you're
    there, make sure you check 'Do full resolution slideshow' to get the
    highest quality possible (may not work on older computers).

    3. Try turning a picture to black and white by selecting the picture and
    pressing Shift+CTRL+B.

    4. EMAIL pictures by selecting one, or many, pictures and pressing the
    'email' button in the lower right - that's all there is to it!

    5. Make your thumbnails bigger or smaller by moving the slider in the lower
    right corner of the screen - It's amazingly fast.

    6. Crop a picture by double clicking on it and pressing the 'Crop' button.
    You'll never have to worry about overwriting your original file - all your
    edits, including crops, can be undone at any time by pressing the 'undo all
    edits' button.

    7. Add keywords to pictures by selecting some with a similar subject, and
    clicking the 'keywords' button in the lower left. You can then find those
    pictures instantly by pressing the 'Search' button and typing the keyword.
    Try it!

    And of course, don't forget to press the 'timeline' button - there's
    nothing like it.

    Hope these tips help you have more fun with your digital pictures!

    Click here to launch Picasa now and try some of these tips:

    Please send any technical questions to - we're here to


    Lars Perkins
    CEO, Picasa, Inc.
    ND, Jul 17, 2004
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  2. <SNIP>

    In their privacy policy it states:
    "User Consent to Privacy Policy
    Any person accessing, browsing, or otherwise using Picasa's web sites
    ("Site"), either manually or via an automated device or program, shall be
    considered a "Visitor." Further, a Visitor that registers at the Site,
    downloads, orders prints and/or makes purchases of products shall be
    considered a "User." All Visitors are bound by the terms of this Privacy
    Policy. Visitors consent to the collection, use, and disclosure of Visitor
    information pursuant to the terms of this Privacy Policy. "

    Based upon this, by downloading you became a "User" subject to:
    " Information Collected
    Picasa collects every User's name, billing and/or shipping address, email
    address, credit card information with related expiration date ("Personally
    Identifiable Information")."

    It doesn't mention that the collection of data is in whole or in part, or
    that you have to input it yourself.
    It's interesting that it got your address from the HDD. Would it need to
    know every mail clients file scheme, or is our address in some universal
    location in the registry? I'm downloading the program now and will block
    the "phone home" feature while looking for updates another way.
    Central Mass. USA

    To email: Replace with
    Dave McAuliffe, Jul 17, 2004
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  3. ND

    xpyttl Guest

    Take a peek at HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Account Manager\Accounts

    xpyttl, Jul 17, 2004
  4. Absolutely. After I did the post I took a look at the registry, "email",
    and my addresses are all over the place including the key you mentioned.
    From OE settings (NG and mail) to non-M$ software registration info. It
    really contradicts the phrase "what you don't know can't hurt you".
    Central Mass. USA

    To email: Replace with
    Dave McAuliffe, Jul 17, 2004
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