The Privacy Principles Google Forgot

Lora Bentley
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Six Privacy Principles Google Forgot


Despite the common claim that online privacy is dead, Google's privacy practices have been under pretty heavy scrutiny lately. Users were vocal when Google's Buzz automatically made people in their contact lists followers. Privacy advocates have filed complaints with U.S. regulators, and foreign privacy chiefs have been none too shy about their concerns with Google's practices - or lack thereof.


Nonetheless, Google seems to think its users and the regulators are the ones with the problem, that they somehow don't understand the company's efforts on behalf of the users. As a result, Google representatives have gone out of their way to explain their privacy principles again and again. They can't seem to grasp that maybe those privacy principles are part of the problem.


Moreover, I think Google would do well to remember a few more truths about online privacy as it considers its next steps.


For instance, decisions the company makes about services, whether they're in the alpha, beta, or production phase, really do impact the real lives of real people. Remember the Google Buzz user who was afraid for her life after she discovered that her abusive ex-husband had been automatically added as a follower on the microblogging service?


Also, Google is not above the law. I don't think it will be able to get away with the kind of patronizing responses it gave to EU regulators on their privacy questions very often, if ever again. When they ask for changes or other action to remedy a problem, it's safe to assume that failure to follow through will result in some kind of penalty eventually.

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