With the classic timing of those who want to downplay bad news, Google responded late Friday afternoon to a letter of complaint issued by ten countries last month about the misfired rollout of the Google Buzz social networking application when Google exposed Gmail users’ personal e-mail contacts to the online world without user consent.
Census Day – April 1 – got me thinking about the data the Census Bureau compiles about me. Google’s partnership with the bureau got me thinking about who has the most data and who poses…
Google decided to take note of International Data Privacy Day last week by publishing their five guiding privacy principles. Here are the bullet points and there is …
Two consumer groups asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to block
Google Inc.’s (GOOG) proposed $750 million acquisition of mobile
advertising company AdMob Inc., as they allege the deal would diminish
competition to the detriment of consumers. "Consumers will face higher prices, less innovation and fewer choices,"
said John M. Simpson, a consumer advocate at Consumer Watchdog. "The
FTC should conduct the appropriate investigation, block the proposed
Google/AdMob deal, and also address the privacy issues."
Few doubt that Internet giant Google is succeeding in its audacious
corporate mission "to organize the world’s information and make it
universally accessible and useful." The problem is that the mission
puts Google directly at odds with our privacy rights, and Google
appears unwilling to give consumers enough control.
Dashboard lets you get rid of some information on there. Google says
part of the goal here is to stop the theory about what Google knows and
doesn’t know about you, to provide transparency. But there are some
privacy advocates who say this is still this is not enough. For
example, one group called Consumer Watchdog put out this statement
saying, "If Google really wanted to give users control of their
privacy, it would give consumers the ability to be anonymous from the
company and advertisers in crucial areas like search data and online
behavior." And you can see the statement right there.
The Google Dashboard tool is also limited to information gathered on users when logged in to Google. It
doesn’t give consumers access to information that might be tied to
individual consumers in other ways — such as searches associated with
individual computer IP address or cookies. That means it falls short of
being a true privacy tool, according to privacy rights advocacy group
Consumer Watchdog. "The
dashboard gives the appearance of control without the actual ability to
prevent Google from tracking you and delivering you to its marketers,”
said John M. Simpson, a spokesman for the nonprofit organization. "It
doesn’t reveal anything about what is at the heart of what I call
Google’s ‘black box’ — what is associated with your computer’s IP
Indeed, privacy advocates, such as John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog, argued Google’s gesture with Dashboard was just a straw man and that if the company really wanted to help it would allow users to prevent search information from being logged or to prevent Google from tracking a user’s online activity while surfing the Web.
… Dashboard doesn’t really give users any
clearer insights into what the company is doing with all of the data it
collects. John Simpson, a consumer advocate with Consumer Watchdog,
said if Google really wants people to use Dashboard, the company should
make it easier to find, noting that there are few links to the tool
from the landing pages of any Google properties. Simpson said Google
also should make it easier for users to blow away stored search and
activity data across multiple Google properties with a single click. "Google is maximizing the PR value of this feature in response to
critics who have demanded online privacy guarantees," Simpson said in a
written statement. "They are letting a little light shine into the
black box that is Google, but to claim that this is transparency is
The advocacy group Consumer Watchdog,
which has been critical of the amount of personal data Google stores,
called the dashboard a small step in the right direction. "If
Google really wanted to give users control over their privacy it would
give consumers the ability to be anonymous from the company and its
advertisers in crucial areas such as search data and online behavior,"
spokesman John M. Simpson said on the group’s Web site. "The Dashboard
give the appearance of control without the actual ability to prevent
Google from tracking you and delivering you to its marketers."
Critics Say Google Makes Some Privacy Progress, But Call For More Transparency
Consumer Watchdog, a non-profit advocacy group formerly known as the
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said in a statement today
that it applauds Google for giving users a single place to go to manage
their data. But at the same tine, the group also came down hard on
Google, contending that it needs to give users a vehicle for stopping
the company from collecting any personal data. The company should also
provide a way for users to delete their information from Google’s
servers, the group added.
Google launched an application Thursday that allows users to see what data is stored in their accounts, but at least one group says the effort doesn’t go far enough. The Google Dashboard is "designed to be simple and useful" and summarizes data for a range of products from e-mail and calendar applications to social networking and video sharing platforms. Consumer Watchdog, a group that has repeatedly thrashed Google for its advertising and privacy protection practices, said the Internet giant should let users opt out of tracking and delete information associated with their computer’s IP address from Google’s servers.