Google Is Faulted On Privacy

Fri, Jul 10, 2009 at 10:15 am

    A group critical of Google’s privacy practices got a jump on the search giant yesterday.

    Consumer Watchdog, which accuses Google of spying on users, sent out an alert early yesterday claiming it had obtained a "confidential" and "proprietary" document that the company had intended for lawmakers.

    The 23-page presentation is a response to concerns that Google’s latest ad-targeting program violates users’ privacy. The Google document is a basic explanation of Google’s "interest-based advertising" program, which collects information about users in hopes of delivering relevant ads to them. The practice is often referred to as behavioral targeting.

    In the presentation, Google touts its privacy protections, including giving users the ability to opt out of the program. Still, Consumer Watchdog seized on the document as an another example of how a company that professes to be open is actually a black box.

    The group said the presentation is nothing more than "spin" and offered up its own annotated version of the presentation alongside the original one, mocking Google’s efforts. For instance, the group said Google fails to mention that it takes seven clicks to opt out of the ad-targeting program.

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