Congress Sends Google CEO Larry Page Letter Asking About Google Glass Privacy Concerns

google-glass In the midst of the 2013 Google I/O developer conference currently being held in San Francisco, Google CEO Larry Page received a formal letter from eight-members of congress addressing Google Glass privacy issues. The letter from Congress outlined eight specific areas of concern, asking specifically: Does Google have plans to prevent Google Glass from unintentionally collecting data about the user/non-user without consent? (After referencing  Google's agreement to settle charges in 2010 for collecting information from encrypted wireless networks without permission.) What proactive st [...]


Schmidt: Google Has More Respect For “Real World” Concerns, One Reason Why Google Glass Is Limited

Eric Schmidt & Jared Cohen [caption id="attachment_43692" align="alignright" width="300"] Eric Schmidt & Jared Cohen[/caption] Whereas the Google of old might just throw products "over the wall" and not think much about their real world impacts, the Google of today has much more respect for what its digital products might do in the real world, says Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt. That's one reason why Google Glass is in a long and limited distribution process, he gave as an example. Schmidt was at Google Los Angeles last week, speaking to an audience of Google employees and outside guests from the area [...]


Eric Schmidt Takes Refreshingly Sober View Of Technology In His Book “The New Digital Age”

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 8.46.57 PM Along with co-author and foreign policy expert Jared Cohen, Google Executive Chairman is doing the rounds on radio and TV in support of their new book The New Digital Age. This evening, both were interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered program. I don't have an advance copy of the book and haven't read it. But, the interview made me curious. If it's any indication, there's considerable time spent on the darker political and social implications of the Internet and the way it may play out differently in various parts of the world. Schmidt and Cohen appear to have a very balanced -- one m [...]


Study: Millennials More Comfortable Sharing Personal Data For Targeted Ads & Relevant Offers

personal-data-privacy-featured A recent survey conducted by the USC Annenberg Center for Digital Future and Bovitz Inc., revealed "Millennials" (those 18-35)  have a different attitude than Internet users 35 years and older when it comes to sharing their personal data online with businesses. While 70 percent of Millennials agreed with the statement, "No one should ever be allowed to have access to my personal data," 56 percent said they would share their location with a nearby company in return for a relevant coupon or promotional deal. Only 42 percent of users 35 years and older agreed they would share their location. [...]


Unhappy Google’s Not Changed Privacy Policy, EU Vows Six Individual EU Nations Will Press On

google-privacy-200 The European Union's privacy watchdog announced today that as Google hasn't made suggested changes to its privacy policy, it will continue investigating. Well, six EU countries will, to see if there's actual action to be taken against Google. The European Union's "Article 29 Working Party," an EU-wide privacy body, was upset with Google's privacy within days of it being announced in January 2012. The eventually led to the French privacy regulatory body CNIL to ask, on behalf of the entire Article 29 body, for Google to make some changes, including: Tell users what data are being collec [...]


Google’s Privacy Director, Alma Whitten, Leaving On July 1st

google-g-logo-2012 Alma Whitten, Google's Director of Privacy for Product and Engineering, is leaving the company this summer. Forbes first reported her move, and Google has confirmed it with us. Whitten has been with Google since 2003, but took the role of Director of Privacy in 2010 as part of Google's forced cleanup after the company's Wi-Fi data collection screw up. Part of Whitten's mandate was to build privacy awareness and controls throughout Google's products. That resulted in, among other things, a controversial privacy policy consolidation that went into effect on March 1, 2012. A Google spoke [...]


EU Regulators “Plan To Take Action” Against Google Privacy Policy

google-privacy-200 When it comes to the issue of privacy, it seems that Google and Europe are on opposite sides of an ocean, metaphorically speaking. Reuters reports this morning that frustrated European authorities "plan to take action" against Google for its failure to satisfy them regarding its consolidated privacy policy. Google has maintained that its privacy policy conforms to all European laws and regulations. Privacy regulators from France and across Europe have heavily criticized the "consolidated" Google privacy policy and say it overreaches. However, they've stopped short of declaring it "illegal." [...]


Microsoft’s “Scroogled” Campaign Against Gmail Wins 0.002% Of Users

Scroogled It's been a week since Microsoft went on the attack against Gmail, launching its "Scroogled" campaign portraying Gmail as a privacy monster that reads your emails for ad targeting purposes. How's that been working out? To date, the Microsoft-backed petition against Gmail's practices has gained about over 6,000 signatures -- equal to about 0.002% of Gmail's user base. The Petition To Nowhere At the Scroogled site, Microsoft invites people to sign an online petition. In the week it has been up, it's gathered about 5,600 signatures: That's hardly an overwhelming response, especially consider [...]


Chrome To Gain Search Encryption, Following Similar Moves By Firefox & Mobile Safari

google-chrome-privacy-featured The wave of browsers using Google SSL Search -- and thus blocking publishers from receiving search term data -- continues. Google's own Chrome browser is next up, with the latest Chrome 25 beta using encryption. Google shared the news on its Chromium blog today. Chrome follows in the footsteps of Firefox and mobile Safari, which added encryption last year. Our stories below have more background on that: Firefox 14 Now Encrypts Google Searches, But Search Terms Still Will “Leak” Out How An iOS 6 Change Makes It Seem Like Google Traffic From Safari Has Disappeared The Safari [...]


EU Takes 10 Days To Question Google Privacy Change; After Two Months, Finally Looks At Microsoft’s

online privacy Two months after Microsoft introduced the same type privacy policy changes that Google did, and was attacked by the European Union over, the EU is finally getting around to questioning the Microsoft move. Microsoft's change happened on October 19. It was announced with little notice to consumers. Despite allowing for cross-platform sharing in the way privacy changes at Google allowed earlier this year, it attracted virtually no press attention nor that of regulators. In contrast, Google's change drew heavy attention the day it was announced and which continued on. Ten days after the anno [...]


Dark Google: One Year Since Search Terms Went “Not Provided”

google-clouds-dark-featured A year ago, Google began going dark. Dark in terms of no longer sharing with publishers, in some cases, how people searched for and found those publishers through Google's search engine. The "single digit" percentage of withholding that Google predicted at the time has turned into more than 50%, in some cases. If Google's withholding were an eclipse, more than half the sun is being covered. "Dark Google" is upon us, and it will only grow darker. I'm drawing the term "Dark Google" as a play off the "Dark Social" concept that Alexis Madrigal wrote about recently in The Atlantic. Dark Socia [...]


Europeans: Google Privacy Policy Not Illegal But Please Make Some Changes

European EU flag After all the saber rattling, commentary and anticipation yesterday there was an expectation that Google would be asked by European data protection authorities, led by the French privacy regulator CNIL, to "unravel" or roll back its unified privacy policy. There was also a strong suggestion that there might be fines imposed. Instead we essentially got a relatively polite request to make some modest changes to the privacy policy, mostly around disclosures to end users. The coverage today of the CNIL letter to Larry Page (embedded below) is all over the map, with some outlets focused on hypot [...]


Europeans To Ask Google To Change Unified Privacy Policy, Gain User Consent For Data Collection

google-privacy-200 Earlier this year, in March, Google consolidated more than 70 different privacy policies into a single more unified policy that allowed it to combine user data from all Google properties into a single view. Google argued that it represented privacy simplification for users (which was true). However it also benefited Google with more insight into its users' activities on the Google network, the ability to deliver more personalized search results and presumably enabled better ad targeting. The Europeans raised concerns about Google's new privacy policy at the time and suggested that it might [...]


Microsoft To Make Same Privacy Change Google Was Attacked For; No One Seems To Care

logo-lg-1x Earlier this year, Google announced a privacy policy change that was widely covered by tech blogs, the mainstream press and which generated much governmental concern. Last month, Microsoft announced the same type of change. That generated little reaction. Either Microsoft's change deserved the same scrutiny from all the same parties that examined Google so closely or Google got unfairly attacked. This is a long article, so let me say from the start that I don't think consumers need to fear either the change Google did or the one that Microsoft will implement later this month. You can jump [...]


Acer, Skyhook And Google’s Android Self-Interest

android logo Danny has written two articles about Android, openness and the degree of Google's control over the ecosystem. These were sparked by the recent controversy surrounding computer-maker Acer's attempt to use a non-authorized version of Android (the Alibaba-made Aliyun OS) on mobile handsets: Google: Acer Can’t Work On “Non-Compatible Android” & Be Part Of Open Handset Alliance What Is The One True Android & How “Open” Is It? Aliyun OS "Incompatibility" Acer was set to announce that it was going forward with the Aliyun OS on one or more handsets but abruptly cancelled t [...]


Will Google’s New “Red Team” Keep It Out Of The Privacy Danger Zone?

google-privacy-200 According to a Google job listing and several stories this morning Google is building an internal "Red Team" to address privacy and security issues. The job description reads: As a Data Privacy Engineer at Google you will help ensure that our products are designed to the highest standards and are operated in a manner that protects the privacy of our users. Specifically, you will work as member of our Privacy Red Team to independently identify, research, and help resolve potential privacy risks across all of our products, services, and business processes in place today. Top candidates will hav [...]


FTC: $22.5M Penalty To Get Google To “Take Its Privacy Obligations More Seriously”

Google FTC logos It's official. As earlier reported, Google will pay $22.5 million to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that it placed tracking cookies and served targeted ads to Safari browser users, after it said it wouldn't. The cookie placement violated the privacy settlement Google reached with the FTC in October of last year. It's the largest penalty ever posed for violation of an existing order by the FTC, according to the Commission, but it represents a drop in the bucket for Google, which had Q2 revenues of more than $12 billion. When questioned about the sufficiency of the penalty, [...]


Google To Pay $22.5 Million To Settle “Cookiegate” In Latest Privacy Fine

Reuters is confirming that the civil penalty Google will pay to settle the "Cookiegate" episode, in which it bypassed the default Safari privacy settings on the iPhone, is $22.5 million. This figure was previously reported and represents a fine of $16,000 per violation per day. In February the Wall Street Journal first reported that Google and other ad networks (i.e., Gannett’s PointRoll) were discovered circumventing mobile Safari’s default “no third party cookies” settings. Google said it was simply trying to make its +1 buttons work on iOS and nothing sinister was intended. [...]


Whoops: Google Admits It Still Has Some WiFi Payload Data Collected Via Street View Cars

google-street-view-car Despite assurances to the contrary, Google told the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) today that it still has some of the WiFi payload data that it's Street View cars collected in 2010. That data may include personal information such as usernames, passwords and email addresses that Google collected via unsecured WiFi networks. Google's collection of such data has sparked numerous governmental investigations around the world -- some of which are still in progress. Google had previously promised the UK government and public that it had deleted all of the data. But Google attorne [...]


Report: Google To Pay Massive $22.5 Million “Cookiegate” Fine

google-legal-law The Wall Street Journal reports Google and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is expected to announce the terms of 'Cookiegate' fine. This fine is due to Google bypassing the default privacy settings in Apple’s Safari web browser. The Wall Street Journal says they expect the fine to be the "largest penalty ever levied on a single company" by the FTC. The amount is a whopping $22.5 million according to sources. For Google, $22.5 million is not much but for their reputation, it just tacks on one more dent to their "do no evil" reputation. The penalty is $16,000 per violation per day, a [...]


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