November 19, 2006

Let Google Do Your Dialing

I suspect Google already knows exactly who you are if you use their search, mapping or other services. Why not, then, give up your phone number? Now, they provide just a bit of incentive to do so.

If you are doing a business search on Google Maps they provide a feature that will call that business for you:

Search for a business, like a hardware store, on Google Maps, and click the 'call' link next to its phone number. Then, enter your phone number and click 'Connect For free.' Google calls your phone number and automatically connects you to the hardware store.

There are two things that I really like about this. The business's phone number is automatically stored in your caller ID so you can easily call back in the future. And by checking the box to remember your phone number, you can make future calls from Google Maps with just two mouse clicks (and picking up your phone, of course).

We're providing the 'call' link as a free service to all businesses. These aren't ads and don't influence the ranking of businesses in the search results. We foot the bill for calls (local and long distance), but airtime fees or other mobile fees will still apply if you use a mobile phone number.

The click to call feature is currently available only within the US and they say that they eventually delete your phone number from their servers. But they most certainly have added the information about your search and your phone call(s) to their growing file on you. If they really want your phone number later there are plenty of ways to acquire it.

On the other side, and it may not really make a difference, there are still quite a few people that delete Google cookies after every use. But, for that to mean anything, you'd better change your IP address every time as well.

Or use something like Tor.

Posted by Steve on November 19, 2006
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