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  (Source: Ardash Vijay/Google+)
Nation's privacy regulators say they would like Google to better explain itself

For a while the online trend privacy-wise was towards greater anonymization, and shorter storage of data.  Today things seem to be going in the reverse direction, with companies like Google and Facebook actively working to reduce user privacy for profit.

Google Inc. (GOOG) the world's largest provider of internet search, web video (YouTube), and email (Gmail) is preparing to roll out a sweeping (and alarming) new cross-product privacy policy.  Under the new policy, Google will do away with separate privacy agreements and individual collection of data in its various products.  In its place will be a single mass monitoring/data mining apparatus, which will collect sensitive information including location, interests, age, sexual orientation, sexual habits, relationship status, religion, political views, health concerns, employment status, and more.

But the advent of "Googley the Privacy Slayer" has been potentially delayed by threats from French authorities.  The European Union nation's National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties (CNIL) sent an open letter [PDF] to Google asking the company for more information about precise technical details of its plans.

The letter to new Google CEO Larry Page complains that the policy seemingly "does not meet the requirements of the European Directive on Data Protection, especially regarding the information provided to data subjects."

The European Union as a whole is very concerned about the new policy.  It has launched a probe into Google's actions.

Data Mining
Google is looking to mine your sensitive personal data to a greater extent
than has ever before been possible. [Image Source:]

French authorities -- and EU officials in general have a laundry list of concerns:
  1. The proposed changes lack transparency.
  2. Mass application of an ambiguous privacy policy covering dozens of the world's most used online services is troublesome.
  3. Government officials were not given clear warning about the changes.
  4. Users were not given clear warning about the changes.
In the U.S. Attorneys General for various states are expressing similar concerns and criticism [PDF].

Google, however, has insisted that no matter what the government or users say, it will implement the policy on March 1, which it insists is legal.  The policy has the potential to bring Google huge new profits via the sale of user data to "trusted" parties and via improving Google's in-house advertising.

For those wishing to opt out of the Orwellian new monitoring scheme, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a document detailing how to do so, in addition to explaining why the alarm at these changes is justified.

Sources: CNIL [complaint letter], EFF [how to opt out], The New York Times [more coverage], Rhode Island AG

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By Magnus909 on 2/29/2012 10:17:53 PM , Rating: 1
There's nothing new here.
The "Massive user monitoring" Jason refer to I suppose is the aggregated data about certain target groups (e.g men between 31-45) that has been going on for a long time.

This is not the same as targeting, for example, the person "Jason Mick". It's just cookies that try to place a certain username (not identity) in a target group
The free services that we all know are made free by advertising, built on user behaviour patterns (when searching, using email, youtube etc) and it has been so for many, many years.

It is a different thing when the government is spying on you, listening in on phone calls, e-mails and so on for suspicious behaviour for a certain identifiable person.
That isn't what google is doing, but it sounds like some people think that this is what they are doing.

And it is extremely easy to opt out of it, either completely or just for some of the services.
You could, for example use different accounts for different services, thereby circumventing the percieved threat of the mass monitoring.

And besides that, most readers here probably use adblockers, flashblockers and so on and don't see any ads at all. But we are apparently in a small minority (about 5% or so) and that is good since the web is built on advertising (that the rest just put up with).

This is exactly what governments wants: Us being scared of a lot of bad things on the net, like google, facebook, file-sharing (could be child porn), bullying on social networks and so on.
They must protect us against this "Evil" and are allowed to put forward strict laws that makes it possible for them to regulate internet globally with idiotic law, like the new privacy laws in the EU, which could make it impossible for some US web sites like the "TWIT" podcasts to be open to Europe, since they could be fined some great amount. Leo Laporte said that they would just block EU citizens since they otherwise would be in danger of paying big fines.

This ludicrous fear of the big bad wolf must stop, it isn't google or facebook that is the problem today. The real problem is the old industry. The film studios, music business and the likes which are lobbying hard on regulators all over the world wanting a much more regulated and less free web. That combined with the other big problem, the governments that wants to control people on the net by regulating the net makes a really dangerous combo.

In that web, you wouldn't have the choice between being more or less open, but with todays internet you can choose to use google services and participate in their "Massive User monitoring" or you can opt out of it.
That is a great difference!
We do not want more regulation that robs us of this great choice!

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