Monday, 20 February 2012 14:08

Google's stand on their new Privacy Policies brings an added danger...

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GoogleThe news has been buzzing with talk of Google’s new combined privacy policies and the impact they will have on the user’s personal information. This is due to the way that Google is moving to a combined user format and will allow for the sharing of user information between different platforms and services. Now, we agree that this is not a good thing and is something that Google needs to reverse their decision on, but there is something else at stake here. This is something that most publications have missed the boat on and one that I think even Google has not considered…

As it stands right now Google’s new privacy policies are in breach of the promise they made to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) about requiring expressed user permission to share data with any other service (including ones internal to Google). There is no doubt about that. Google does not feel this way and has no plans to change their stance on this. They are moving forward and there is nothing that anyone can do about it….

No one except for the FTC. The FTC can actually delay the start of these new policies and could potentially fore Google to change their minds about this. Considering the pressure the FTC is getting from Anonymous and now the Senate, well there is a chance that the FTC might actually stand up and do something. Great right?.... Um yes and no unfortunately.

The yes part is that Google would possibly be forced to keep their existing separate privacy policies for each service and maintain user information in its own space. The bad is something that could potentially be worse than having your personal information shared between Google services. It could mean that Google will lose credibility when opposing bills like SOPA and ACTA.

If you remember Google was the one company that opposed SOPA that was allowed to attend the congressional hearing on the bill. At that time they tried to discredit Google by bringing up issues with Google’s Ads, and their search policies that (if you type in the right key words) allow you to search for downloadable content from the internet. This was a real concern as it raised doubts about Google’s reasons for opposing the bill. Now, if they are found to be guilty of exposing user data to risk or in violation of an FTC agreement they could lose what little voice they had in congress.

This last possibility worries us the most about Google’s stance here. Whether you like Google or not they were an important part of the opposition to SOPA and PIPA having them discredited would be bad for future laws that are being drawn up even now to put the pieces of SOPA back into place one at a time. We truly hope that Google recognizes that the risks here are not worth the reward and changes their minds. Then again, it is also possible that Google wants to be forced out of the argument and this represents an easy way out for them (we truly hope this is not the case).

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