Posted April 20, 2007 9:42 am by with 3 comments

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According to CNET, three public interest groups will file a joint complaint with the Federal Trade Commission asking for an examination of the privacy threat posed by Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick.

Apparently doing the dirty work of MSFT, Yahoo and AT&T, the complaint claims that Google’s existing network of sites, combined with the data held by DoubleClick, will pose a security threat to millions of web surfers.

The public interest groups contend that by holding all of that data, Google is vulnerable to security breaches and surveillance by law enforcements in the United States and abroad; and people’s right to privacy could be severely diminished. Among other requests, the groups ask that the FTC order Google to create a “meaningful data-destruction policy” and give users reasonable access to information stored about them.

Google’s legal counsel, Nicole Wong, gave this initial response to the complaint.

We can’t imagine taking any actions that would undermine these relationships or the trust people have in using our products and services,” Wong wrote.

What??? I’m sure AOL didn’t have any intention to undermine the trust of its users either, but look what happened. I’m sure Google will tighten up its stance, should the complaint gain traction, but right now, it needs to answers some serious questions about what it does with the information it collects.

Even using “non-identifiable” data poses many risks, claim those making the complaint.

“Identity can be inferred,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director for EPIC and author of the complaint, said in an interview with CNET “We believe that this complaint provides an opportunity for FTC to look closely at whether the online advertising industry provides adequate privacy protection for Internet users and consider the privacy impact of nonpersonally identifiable information collected through search histories.”

The complaint calls for Google to hold itself to tougher privacy standards, make their privacy policy more accessible and provide users a way to access and delete information held about them. Unfortunately for those making the complaint, the US government may actually want Google to keep all of your precious information.

Gives you something to think about, before enabling Google’s new “web history” features, doesn’t it?

  • Yea I have actively turned off the web history feature. In fact I just stay signed out of gmail all the time now. They already know enough about me they don’t need more fuel for their fire.

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  • I don’t see what is so bad here! I really don’t mind that Google has personally identifiable information about me.

    What are they going to do? Steal my credit card info? Find out that I lookup porn sometimes?

    Great for them…

    If people are so concerned about their privacy, what is it that they’re trying to hide?