Model’s “skank” suit highlights Google privacy issues

Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    A model’s suit to force Google to identify an anonymous blogger highlights the privacy issues surrounding many of Google’s services.

    According to The Washington Post and Online Media Daily, model  Liskula Cohen is suing to compel the Internet giant to identify the blogger who called her a "skank."

    Google’s position is that it protects a user’s privacy unless compelled to release the identity by court order.  It’s not clear how the case will play out;  the next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 26.

    I don’t want to discuss whether the comments were inappropriate or defamatory as Cohen alleges. What is clear, though, is that Google compiles huge amounts of identifiable personal data on users of its services. Most users, I suspect, don’t understand how much identifiable information flows to Google in an unnoticed conversation with the company’s servers. Check our videos to see what’s at stake.

    Google’s position now is that it  will "only provide information about a user in response to a subpoena or other court order."  Depending on the type of case that can be relatively easy to obtain. And, who’s to say that Google won’t change its policy tomorrow? What about hackers or a rogue employee who access the data?

    Internet users should be able to control how much of their personal data companies collect and keep.  That’s why Google needs to add an "anonymizer" clearly available across all its services so users can control what happens to their personal data.

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