Slide Proves that Google Really Does Care About Privacy
Article by George Norman
On 21 Dec 2009
Earlier this month, computer users around the world were taken by surprise by a comment made by Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The comment made him, and the Mountain View-based search engine giant, look like a pro surveillance group that considers privacy a means of harboring illegal activities.

Here’s what Eric Schmidt said, I’ve highlighted the part that got everyone all hyped up: “I think judgment matters. If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines -- including Google -- do retain this information for some time and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.”

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As you can imagine, the response to Schmidt’s comment was swift. The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) pointed out that privacy is important on numerous levels, from “shallow embarrassments to the preservation of freedom and human rights.” Security expert Bruce Schneier pointed out that privacy “is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.” Mozilla founding member Asa Dotzler went as far as to tell users to switch to Bing because Microsoft’s search engine “does have a better privacy policy than Google.” To which Microsoft responded with a thank you gesture – see here.

Google has responded to the privacy concerns surrounding it by releasing a ...set of slides. The slides outline Google’s Privacy policies and data that Google collects; it also praises Google's functionality. See the slide here. The only thing that caught my eye is the Ads Preferences Manager that lets you opt out of interest based ads.

“Over the past several weeks, we've been spending time with policymakers, consumer advocates, think tanks, trade associations, and journalists to chat about Google's approach to privacy. As you can see from this presentation, we've talked about our guiding privacy principles, explained what search logs look like, and discussed how we use data to improve our products and services. We've also talked about three major privacy initiatives we've undertaken this past year that underscore our commitment to transparency and choice -- interest-based advertising, the data liberation front, and Google Dashboard. For 2010, we're looking forward to taking even more steps to help users protect their privacy,” explained Christine Chen, Manager, Global Communications and Public Affairs.



Tags: Google, Privacy
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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