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Google Almost “an Endemic Threat to Privacy”



Privacy International chose to label Google as with the worst privacy rating of any of the twenty-three companies they examined in their report on privacy for Internet service companies.

I think that at least some of the reasoning behind PI’s rating is found in their statement:

We are aware that the decision to place Google at the bottom of the ranking is likely to be controversial. . . .

I think that there are definitely some areas that Google can work on as far as private information goes—but I also think that PI knew when they chose Google that all things Google are pressworthy.

What does Privacy International really expect? While it’s not totally clear from their report, it seems that they’re deeply concerned that Google is collecting usage information on searches and their other products. However, I think it’s unreasonable to expect any interactive software company not to collect information about its users in an effort to improve the end user experience.

If you’re that concerned about your privacy, lie to them. As long as they’re not paying you (in which case, by law, they have to collect tax information from you), you can give Google a fake name and other information. Better yet, don’t use them. Log out of your account and never use them again. You can certainly make do with a different, “orange” level service.

For more information on Privacy International’s study see:

  • http://www.seorefugee.com/seoblog SEO Refugee Blog

    While I’m sure the desire to be controversial played into the decision a bit, I think Google’s reaction to it was even more telling. It seems to me that Google’s response has (and granted I’m paraphrasing) “Everyone else is just as bad” or “There’s no way we’re the WORST”.

  • Jordan McCollum

    Yeah, I don’t think their reaction was well played, especially the, “we heard that someone on your board has a conflict of interest with Microsoft.”

  • http://www.businesseducationsite.com Business Education

    I seen you use feedburner for your rss feed. If I am not wrong, right now google in discussion to buy feedburner. This new really make people worried since google right now rules and can get any kind of information about you.

  • Jordan McCollum

    Well, we did report on the confirmation of that deal two weeks ago, and the rumors for several weeks before that. We also use Google Analytics ’round here and Andy and I both GMail. We’ve chosen to give Google that information. In fact, FeedBurner’s opt out period to give your information to Google ends on Thursday.

  • http://www.seorefugee.com/seoblog SEO Refugee Blog

    Unfortunately it’s becoming harder and harder not to give Google at least some of your information. I think I’ve given up hope that some competitor will rise up and provide me with alternatives, I’m now hoping for government regulation or something… btw I’m not holding my breath. Maybe I’ll just start practicing my “Resistance is Futile” line ;)

  • Jordan McCollum

    Yes. I think that most people, however, are pretty comfortable giving Google at least some of their information in exchange for the benefits/goods/services they get in return.

    Or, you could look at it this way: the more they tighten their grip, the more star systems control will slip through their fingers. I could certainly see them running some of their apps into the ground–about as likely as I see there eventually being some other competitor.

    No one dominates the market forever. This Internet thing is just a passing fad ;) .

  • http://www.thevanblog.com Steven Bradley

    It’s funny, because Google is the only one of the search engines that ever seems to do anything to protect privacy. They don’t go far enough, but still they seem to be doing more than the other engines.

    The thing with Google is they also have more access to our information than the other engines, which is why I think everyone looks at them.

    I can understand why Google would be frustrated with the report, but pointing the finger at others probably isn’t the best way to respond.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    LOL – looks like you beat me too it!

  • Jordan McCollum

    Sorry about that, Andy… I accidentally hit publish instead of save :\ . I actually published it before I’d even finished.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    NP – I we may have a few more overlapping during the next few days, as I’m on a different schedule now. :-)

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