Google Superbowl Ad Draws Attention to the Need for Privacy
Article by George Norman
On 09 Feb 2010
Back in January, on International Data Privacy Day, Mountain View-based search engine giant drew attention to its guiding privacy principles. In case you’re not familiar with Google’s guiding privacy principles, here they are:
  • Use information to provide our users with valuable products and services.
  • Develop products that reflect strong privacy standards and practices.
  • Make the collection of personal information transparent.
  • Give users meaningful choices to protect their privacy.
  • Be a responsible steward of the information we hold.

Now Google is once again drawing attention to the privacy issue. This Sunday, during the Superbowl the company aired a 52-second long clip entitled “Parisian Love” (you can view it on YouTube here). The fact that the clip was aired on TV is the new bit here; the clip has been available for viewing on YouTube for some time.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt explains: “If you watched the Super Bowl this evening you'll have seen a video from Google called "Parisian Love". In fact you might have watched it before, because it's been on YouTube for over three months. We didn't set out to do a Super Bowl ad, or even a TV ad for search. Our goal was simply to create a series of short online videos about our products and our users, and how they interact. But we liked this video so much, and it's had such a positive reaction on YouTube, that we decided to share it with a wider audience.”


By watching the clip you figure out that some dude met a cute French girl, they got together, had a long distance relationship, then got married and had a kid. You piece all this info together from the queries he enters into Google Search. Which raises the question of privacy – intimate info about our lives can be brought to light by looking at the info Google stores. That info, as the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) said, needs to be kept protected.

“The Superbowl ad was Google's first foray into national television advertising, and its great that Google used this opportunity to illustrate the importance of search privacy to one of the world's largest audiences. Now that Google has shown how personal its records of user interaction are, it should follow through and protect that information from involuntary disclosure by anonymizing search queries. Microsoft's Bing is anonymizing this information after six months by deleting the entire Internet Protocol ("IP") address associated with your search queries. Google can and should anonymize search queries in the same way after six months or less,” said Senior Staff Attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Kurt Opsahl.

Tags: Google, Parisian Love, Ad, Superbowl, Privacy, Google Search, EFF
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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