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Google Privacy Uproar Continues but What’s Really Going On?

The Google flap over privacy continues and the machine moves with fine efficiency. Take a look at these headlines.

Google Bypassing User Privacy Settings – MSDN

Microsoft: Google Bypasses Privacy Settings in Internet Explorer, Too – All Things D

Google Privacy Fiasco Lesson: There Is No Privacy – Computerworld

Not Just Google: Facebook Also Bypass Privacy Settings In IE – ZDNet’s Friending Facebook

More Sneaky Business About Google: It Bypasses Internet Explorer Privacy Settings Too – Business Insider

It seems that everyone wants to put Google on a skewer and roast them over an open fire. Makes for great headlines but let’s take a look at two quotes from two of the above articles. First, Friending Facebook

Google Hand-Holds Congress Through Privacy Concerns

Google must be getting paranoid by now. I bet Larry Page can’t fart without getting a letter from Congress these days.

The latest Congressional attention of course comes from the latest privacy scandal to hit the Internet. Oh, I’m sorry, I must have channeled my inner sensationalistic blogger for that last line. The only thing that has really happened, at least as Google says it of course, is the consolidation of privacy policies. That idea was enough to get members of Congress to get their hands out of lobbyists pockets and realize that the cameras might be rolling in an election year so they jumped to attention and called Google to protect your interests (wink, wink, nod, nod).

Google responded on their Public Policy Blog

EU Plans to Fund Recovery Through Data Protection Fines

Ok, it may be that I took a liberty or two with the headline. However, when you read what the EU (European Union) is “allowing” itself to do if a company violates their first update to their data protection laws in 17 years and then look at the state of THEIR union its not a very far jump to get to my conclusion.

From Bloomberg

Companies face fines as high as 2 percent of yearly global sales for losing personal data under an overhaul of European Union privacy rules.

Data protection agencies in the EU’s 27 countries would gain the power to sanction companies that violate requirements for handling personal information proposed by the European Commission today. The measures, which also target online- advertising and social networking sites, update the EU’s 17- year-old data protection policies.

Wikipedia Goes Dark in Protest of SOPA: Students Forced to Find Other Means of Completing Homework

Wikipedia and several other sites including Reddit and Boing-Boing will go dark on Wednesday as a form of protest. What they’re protesting is the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Critics of the act say that it supports wholesale censorship with no recourse for even accidental offenders. At the root is the concept that the government can block any website that carries pirated materials. Obviously, this would be a big problem for eBay, YouTube, Facebook, pretty much any website that allows users to upload content.

Facebook Attempt to Stop Lawsuit Not Liked By Judge

A lawsuit against Facebook regarding their use of likenesses and more for advertising purposes is being allowed to continue despite Facebook’s attempts to stop it.

According to Bloomberg

Facebook Inc., the world’s most used social-networking service, can be sued by people who claim showing advertisements that their friends apparently like violates a California law regarding commercial endorsements.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose rejected Facebook’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit on Dec. 16, ruling the plaintiffs may pursue claims that the company’s sponsored ads violate state law and are fraudulent. Koh granted Facebook’s request to dismiss a claim that it unjustly enriched itself with the sponsored ads.

FTC Stands Behind Self-Regulation of Online Ad Industry

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz spoke up for self-regulation of targeted advertising during a presentation at ad:tech New York on Tuesday.

He stated that consumers must be given a choice as to how much of their personal data is tracked, but it’s up to the ad industry, not the government, to make it so.

“We at the FTC have no interest in shutting down the Internet party,” he said. “Our only concern is that, if guests understand there could be a cover charge to the party [in the form of giving up some privacy], they should be able to make meaningful choices about how much they’ll pay.”

This comes just as the Digital Advertising Alliance released an up-dated set of principles regarding online data collection.

Online Publishers Score Legal Victory Regarding Linking

The Canadian Supreme Court has decided that publishers who link to libelous material cannot be found liable themselves for the spread of that material. It’s a rare legal protection for online publishers who are often treading on very unstable ground when it comes to this area.

paidContent reports

Hyperlinking is fundamental to how information spreads on the web—it’s the reason why traffic spikes on some sites and also explains why false information can funnel outward so quickly. One question that publishers and lawyers have long wrestled with is whether sites are legally liable for the accuracy of material they link out to. In a major ruling today, a court offered an answer to that.