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Google gets a kick in the Privates

Alex Christie

6 July 2008

Google appears to have had
its name dragged through the mud in the last month, and I’m starting to
wonder how much more of a publicity bludgeoning the search giant can
take before having to do something about it.

It
seems like there have been three recent strikes against Google’s
privacy policies. Firstly, in June there was an issue with Google
refusing to put a link to their privacy policy on their homepage –
something that Google relented to after engaging in Conference calls
with a number of world privacy organisations, including the World
Privacy Forum, the Electronic Privacy Information Centre, Consumer
Action and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. There havn’t been many
alterations to the format and the content of the ‘classic’ Google look
homepage over the last few years – and its something that the search
giant felt they had to do to keep its users happy.

But the
controversy dosnt stop there. This week, as we have heard in earlier
Tamar search blogs, Google has been told by consumer watchdog Viacom to
hand over the entirety of its YouTube viewers data. The data totals
over 12 terabytes, which I would imagine will create a fair bit of work
for the bods in the Viacom office.

The latest in the privacy
laws saga consists of Google being asked to refer its plans to roll out
its ‘street view’ tool in the UK to the Information commissioner. The
street map package is already in use in America, and has already been
causing concern. The problem is that in the process of taking images to
be applied to maps to create a three dimensional view of a city, there
is the potential for individuals faces to be captured. The argument
from opposition including Privacy International is that a company
should not be able to tender a product that features individuals
appearance without their consent. The group uphold their protest
despite Google’s efforts to create an algorithm that detects human
faces in photographs, and blurs them.

However this controversy
turns out, one thing is certain. Google wont be liking all this
attention for the wrong reasons about its privacy policies, and it’s not as if it’s the first time Google’s handing of individuals information has been called into question. At the moment, we’re just waiting for the  charm offensive response to make it all seem better…

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