Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Google scores low in privacy rankings

Again, the issue of privacy on the Internet is being debated by governments across the world, and Google is at the center of this discussion.

Regrettably, reports actually show that the world’s biggest ‘information gatherer’ hasn’t done enough to ensure its user’s privacy!

A recent report into corporate surveillance of customers has attacked the approach to privacy of Google and other major players.

The report goes as far as saying that Google's attitude towards privacy puts it “at the bottom" as far as standards of corporate surveillance are concerned.

The search giant's attitude was attacked as being "hostile" and "ambivalent", following a six-month investigation by Privacy International into the privacy practices of more than 20 internet-based companies.

Google came bottom of the privacy rankings, which included other internet heavyweights such as Apple, eBay, Microsoft and YouTube.

The report, A Race to the Bottom: Privacy Ranking of Internet Service Companies, said Google was ranked last partly due to its "aggressive use of invasive or potentially invasive technologies", market dominance and the size of its product range.

Google gathers and retains large quantities of information about its users and their activities.

A Google spokesman said Privacy International's report is based on "numerous inaccuracies and misunderstandings" about Google's services and the company stands by its record for protecting user-privacy and offering products that are transparent about what information is collected.

Google was the only company to earn the bottom ranking for "comprehensive consumer surveillance and entrenched hostility to privacy" but none of the companies featured in the report got the highest "privacy friendly" ranking.

The report said the overall privacy standard of the key internet players is "appalling" with some companies demonstrating "mindless disregard" for the privacy rights of their customers. It’s strange that all of these issues are being discussed in the US and Europe and we don’t hear a single complaint from a governmental or ‘watch-dog’ body in the Middle East!

Don’t we deserve privacy too? Or are we just depending on the high involvement of our European and American counterparts to sort it out, and then we’ll benefit from whatever standards they implement?

Surely, we’re putting as much information about ourselves onto Google services (search, email, calendar... etc).

Is it possible that Google and other could have two sets of privacy standards? One for the countries that require stringent standards, and another one for the rest of us?I hope not!


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