Google Bad On Privacy?


I’ve been keeping my eyes open this weekend for a response that analyzes the report that’s been recently released that places Google at the bottom of the list in terms of respecting our individual rights to privacy.

Here’s one of the few that actually read the report and did a little digging into who the report writers are and whether or not they might have an agenda:

“[The claim is] a pretty damning conclusion, especially when we are told it is based on a ‘six-month investigation into the privacy practices of key Internet based companies.’ I eagerly opened the report. At last, someone was finally doing the very hard drill-down and a decent under-the-hood comparative look at how private data is handled, right?

Wrong. Looking at the report, I was pretty shocked that it appeared to be a mishmash of details that can’t be properly weighted against each other. But then I shouldn’t have been shocked. Going back to the summary of the report, it starts out saying:

The report was compiled using data derived from public sources (newspaper articles, blog entries, submissions to government inquiries, privacy policies etc), information provided by present and former company staff, technical analysis and interviews with company representatives.
Wow, lots of second-hand information there. No real feel or detail that they fully drilled-down anywhere.”

In other words it’s a preliminary report done using secondary and tertiary sources rather than primary ones.

There are things to be concerned about in terms of privacy. And I think it’s right to be asking Google how exactly they are working to “not be evil.” But to pull them out and focus on them is mostly just a bit of attention-getting, headline-grabbing as far as I can tell.

A much better and more helpful way to go would have been to talk with folks about what sorts of privacy they are giving up by doing something like sending an unencrypted email, or browsing with cookies enabled. Or using a search engine – any search engine. (It’s rather hard to imagine that Yahoo and Microsoft aren’t trying to monetize the search result data they are getting in just the same way that Google is.)

So, in summary, why is Google singled out? Mostly because it’s more successful in that arena apparently.

Read the rest here: Google Bad On Privacy? Maybe It’s Privacy International’s Report That Sucks

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...