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Why Isn’t Google Asking Users for Input on Its Privacy Policy?


This is a “praise, critique, praise sandwich” post.

Props to Google for announcing better steps in anonymizing Google Suggest data. In addition, a slap on the back for changing your general privacy policy so that personal data is anonymized after 9 months–as opposed to the previous 18 months.

Today, we’re announcing a new logs retention policy: we’ll anonymize IP addresses on our server logs after 9 months. We’re significantly shortening our previous 18-month retention policy to address regulatory concerns and to take another step to improve privacy for our users…

…Today, we are filing this response (PDF file) to the EU privacy regulators. Since we announced our original logs anonymization policy, we have had literally hundreds of discussions with data protection officials, government leaders and privacy advocates around the world to explain our privacy practices and to work together to develop ways to improve privacy. When we began anonymizing after 18 months, we knew it meant sacrifices in future innovations in all of these areas. We believed further reducing the period before anonymizing would degrade the utility of the data too much and outweigh the incremental privacy benefit for users.

Now the critique. Why aren’t you asking users if they’re prepared to sacrifice a little relevance, a little innovation, in exchange for more privacy? Why are you intent on acting like Big Brother and telling us little users what’s good for us. Why can’t we have a say?

Google’s probably one of the few companies in the world, that I trust to secure my data. Reducing its data retention from 18 to 9 months is a big step. An even bigger one would be to let us decide just how long Google gets to play with our personal data.

Thoughts?

  • http://www.greatpriceshere.com Nicole Price

    They are probably asking the little fellows and coming out with solutions that they think are fair. We may not know who all they are talking to. For instance, I am sure that this post would have come to their attention, or at least I hope that it does.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Roller Skating

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

    I hope it does come to their attention. I would love to be able to opt out of any data collection and have my data anonymized faster.

  • http://www.jordankasteler.com/utah-seo-pro-blog/ Utah SEO Pro

    Good point. If they were a bit more transparent on things and acted on user-engagement and/or feedback then they’d be in a better position w/consumers.

    Utah SEO Pro’s last blog post..Building an SEO Friendly Site – SES San Jose 2008 Presentation

  • http://www.amiohayon.com Ami Ohayon

    I’d prefer more control … bu in general, I trust Google more than I do many other companies. Of course, that may be naive.

    Ami Ohayon’s last blog post..From Jerusalem to Boston

  • http://mp3leben.com Tiffany

    I don’t. No company I fully trusted to secure my data. Especially Google. It’s just too big and has the ability to control everything.

  • http://www.kangye.org Kang

    Google is a good company, but it has not a good culture. Its philosophy is to collect world-wide information.

    Kang’s last blog post..历史告诉我们——Google开始收录旧报纸

  • Ola

    I dont know Andy, it seems that google does what google does.
    I think that the company is to big for public influence to some point.
    I mean, its true what you say about why they did not include our opinion into the decision. but again, you cant take users on the net seriously, cus its not personal, you dont know them that well, etc.
    And in the end, will it really matter?
    its not like google will loose money because of it

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