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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: Amazon.com]

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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Did you read it?
By Trisped on 3/1/2012 7:02:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
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.
Did you actually read the policy? I know I did. Google makes it very clear in the "Information we share" section that they do not share your information unless you consent, the person managing your account consents, legal reasons, or Google is having a third party process it (.."in compliance with our Privacy Policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures."). What is not clear? That Google is sharing your information between products to create a smarter, more connected system? Well I guess we should stop turning phone numbers in your text messages into links and not let you search for terms in your emails.
And yes, I think (and have since the early 90s) that better targeted ads are a good thing. I am tired of auto loan, weight loss, and other products I will never use cluttering up my life. Tell me about the new game that is similar to the one I already play, or where the best place is to get a good deal on the groceries I buy every week. Just don't tell the advertisers who I am (let me be an ambiguous number).
quote:
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...
That is right, unlike every other company, Google lets you opt out and continue to use their services (although without the data sharing they would be the same as everyone else's, ignorant and less effective).

I can understand the hype, the confusion, the concern. I cannot understand why experinced Tech news journalists cannot read the Privacy Policy and understand what Google is saying.

If anything, this lack of understanding will probably result in one of those 3MB privacy policies with bold , CAPITALIZED, italicized, and underlined legal speak which only a lawyer would dare claim to understand. I like those, I don't feel bad not reading them because they are so long and complicated no one else does either.




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