I spoke with Briony Smith of IT Business about the recent Privacy International report that put Google at the bottom of their study on the privacy practices of online businesses. She also spoke with Phillipa Lawson and Richard Rosenberg.
Here's a bit:
David T.S. Fraser, a privacy lawyer with the Halifax-based McInnes-Cooper, is unsurprised that Google is coming under fire. Said Fraser: “This is probably inevitable because of their size and the diversity of their business interests: e-mail, social networking, search, classified ads, Google Documents.”
There are also no overarching privacy laws, comparable to PIPEDA, in the United States, according to the Vancouver-based Richard Rosenberg, president of the British Columbia Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.
Lawford said that Google’s business seems to be set up to cull the maximum amount of information about its users, and that he wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that Google was farming out profiled information to outside parties. Proving this can be difficult, according to Lawford. “Following the information through the chain can be hard,” he said.
Fraser suggests that Google’s privacy policies be made much more transparent, and that it tells its users as well just how long their information will be retained for (which, in North America, is indefinitely, according to Rosenberg).
One minor correction: Google has recently announced their retention schedule for their log information, but it still is likely beyond what's reasonably necessary (Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Why does Google remember information about searches?).