Privacy International Ranks Google Last In Privacy Protection - InformationWeek

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6/11/2007
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Privacy International Ranks Google Last In Privacy Protection

Google scored lower in the report than competitors who turned over records of users' search queries to the U.S. Department of Justice last year.

Privacy International has singled out Google for reportedly failing to ensure user privacy and ranked Google last among major Internet service companies. But Google representatives claim the group didn't do its homework.

Privacy International, based in London, published a report Saturday that named Google as the winner in the race to the bottom in terms of privacy protections. The report, entitled, "A Race to the Bottom: Privacy Ranking of Internet Service Companies," sparked a dispute that's playing out in the media and on the World Wide Web.

Google denied the findings, which state that Google's broad range of services give the company a penetrating look at users and threaten user privacy. Google representatives said the conclusions were based on inaccuracies and that they never had a chance to review the allegations before they were published.

"We are disappointed that the report is based on numerous inaccuracies and misunderstandings about Google's products and services," a Google spokesperson told InformationWeek. "None of these allegations were shared with us prior to publication so we did not have the chance to correct any of them. Google is proud to offer a range of innovative products that have proven to be both useful and trusted by our users. User trust is central to our business and that is why we aggressively protect our users' privacy. We stand by our record for protecting user privacy and offering products that are transparent about what information is collected and empower users to control their personal data." Privacy International accused Google of reacting with a smear campaign. The group accused Google of telling reporters that Privacy International has a conflict of interest because a Microsoft employee serves on its board. A Google spokesperson didn't mention Microsoft to InformationWeek, but some media outlets did report on a potential conflict of interest.

On Sunday, Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, posted an open letter to Eric Schmidt on the Internet. The letter states that the Microsoft employee is one of 70 advisors who could not and would not influence the entire group or the report. The letter also points to several instances in which the privacy group has been highly critical of Microsoft.

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