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Submission + - Google's privacy policy bashed by research organiz (

secretsather writes: " ogles-privacy-policy-bashed-by-research-organizati on-privacy-international/

The human rights research organization, Privacy International (PI), released a report, following a six-month investigation, into the privacy practices of 22 popular Internet-based companies. Google ranked the lowest with an initial assessment of "hostile to privacy," followed by AOL, Apple, Facebook, Windows Live Spaces, and Yahoo, among others.

The Internet-based companies were evaluated on details such as the type of personal information that the sites collected; whether or not the collected data was actually useful to the company; for how long the data was kept; and whether or not the company employed a strong, transparent privacy policy.

        "We are aware that the decision to place Google at the bottom of the ranking is likely to be controversial, but throughout our research we have found numerous deficiencies and hostilities in Google's approach to privacy that go well beyond those of other organizations," said Privacy International, in its report.

Privacy International (PI) recently tried to contacted Google, but received no response.

"It's a shame that Privacy International decided to publish its report before we had an opportunity to discuss our privacy practices with them," said Nicole Wong, Google's deputy general counsel. "We are disappointed with Privacy International's report, which is based on numerous inaccuracies and misunderstandings about our services."

Why Google? PI claims Google to retain large quantities of information about all users for an unstated or indefinite length of time with no disclosure or opportunity to delete personal data.

In addition, PI claims it to be a "prevailing view" that a 24 month record of all search strings linked to an individuals IP address is unacceptable, and possibly unlawful.

The list continues, but it is a monotonous tone of drivel that seeps from the mouth of a child; I'll spare you, but there are a few things that trouble me with PI's report.

First, it makes mention of Orkut, Google's online community:

          "We ranked Orkut as a separate entity even though it is owned by Google."

But later links the two together while citing the reasons why Google was ranked so poorly, claiming:

          "Google often maintains these records (user data) even after a user has deleted his profile or removed information from Orkut."

PI makes no mention as to what Google does with the Orkut data. Why? Because they don't know; but, does not hesitate to lower Google's privacy score as a result of, as stated in the report.

        "Google has access to additional personal information, including hobbies, employment, address, and phone number, contained within user profiles in Orkut."

  But assessing a company, based on facts unknown, is a violation of its own rules.

        "It was not always possible to precisely assess a company's approach in each category. As a result, we erred on the side of caution and gave the company the benefit of the doubt and assessed it only for what we could actually identify."

Ironically, Microsoft was given 'orange' status (two levels better than Google) despite PI's claims that there is "not so much" of a difference between Microsoft and Google's data practices and privacy policies.

Rather, Microsoft achieved a better color as a result of "corporate ethos and leadership." Continuing, PI states Microsoft "appears to have adopted a less antagonistic attitude to privacy."

So Microsoft appearing to have a not so hostile approach gains them 2 levels above Google? Thanks for the privacy report, PI, but it's starting to seem as if there are larger things on your agenda than being concerned about my privacy.

Among those who achieved a 'blue' status of 'generally privacy aware' are BBC, Wikipedia, LiveJournal, and Ebay; however, it should be noted that not one Internet-based company was able to achieve a green light status from PI."


Submission + - Group says Google the worsr on privacy

pcause writes: According to this article in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), a study by Privacy International. While Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo were included, none came close to Google, which was said to be "achieving status as an endemic threat to privacy".

Since Google business and revenue and enhanced by systematically violated your privacy, getting you to install spyware on your Desktop (yes, that is what the toolbar and Google Desktop), and tracking your every web action (why they want you to stay logged in), I guess they don't consider this behavior "evil". As a Privacy International person is quoted as saying, "Under the microscope, it turns out that Google is doing much more with our data than we ever imagined".

Shouldn't we all be concerned about the volume of information about us that Google collects and how they use and abuse it?

The Dangers of a Patent War Chest 125

Timothy B. Lee writes "I've got an article in the New York Times in which I make the case against software patents. Expanding on a point I first made on my blog, I point out that Microsoft has had a change of heart on the patent issue. In 1991, Bill Gates worried that 'some large company will patent some obvious thing' and use it to blackmail smaller companies. Now that Microsoft is a large company with a patent war-chest of their own, they don't seem so concerned about abuse of the patent system. I then describe how Verizon's efforts to shut down Vonage are a perfect illustration of Gates' fears."

Submission + - iPod Casualties Can Offer New-in-box Bargains

An anonymous reader writes: For the last few years makers from Creative to Virgin have proclaimed their latest DAP to be an iPod Killer, only to watch those portables flame-out in the marketplace. This doen't mean there was anything wrong with them, in fact some were pretty decent. They just couldn't compete under all the iPod hype. It turns out this created a a huge sub-market of unsold stock, sold for pennies on the dollar to overstock vendors who then pawn them off cheap to the public. For the price of a basic iPod Shuffle you can now acquire some well-equipped units. Examples include the 40GB Toshiba Gigabeat F40 and AlienWare's CE-IV with external speaker system.

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