A study from Privacy International has ranked Google at the bottom of a list of major internet destinations for privacy.
The study found that while a number of other Internet companies have issues with data protection, none comes as close to Google in “achieving the status of being an endemic threat to privacy.”
Issue with Google included:
- Failure to provide an expungement option for retained data
- Failure to follow generally accepted privacy practices such as the OECD Privacy Guidelines and elements of EU data protection law
- unstated or indefinite length of time for data retention, without clear limitation on use or disclosure
Nicole Wong, Google’s deputy general counsel said in a response to the report that Google aggressively protects its users’ privacy and stands behind its track record.
Privacy can be a touchy subject; generally people want their privacy maintained and yet the delivery of many services from Internet startups is dependent on personal data to deliver personalized content. It has long been known that Google gathers more personal data than any other company, yet Google’s growing marketshare would seem to indicate that people are willing to ignore these privacy concerns. From an industry perspective, personalization is a defining quality of the new Internet – without this data we would be winding the clocks back to 1999.
And Google’s ambitions may go well beyond the collection of personal information via the web. Their recent investment in 23andme, a service which will analyze people’s DNA, means that they may have access to people’s genetic makeup in the future. And that includes genetic flaws that might signal future health risks for them and their offspring. Google knowing what web searches we do today, or who we send emails to, is nothing compared with what may come in the future.
Do you care about Google gathering your data? Or do you welcome our Google overlords? Share your thoughts in the comments.