In what could be yet another blow on Google’s current web standing, Privacy International, an independent internet watchgroup has ranked Google in the bottom of other internet companies in terms of privacy practices. The study was conducted among major internet players using various core parameters relating to internet privacy protection best practices. Among those major internet players included in the study are Amazon, Microsoft, mySpace, Bebo, Facebook, among other web 1.0 and web 2.0 major players.
In ranking the internet companies the following ranking categories were used:
- Corporate administrative details,
- Corporate leadership,
- Data collection and processing,
- Data retention,
- Openness and transparency,
- Ethical compass,
- Customer and user control,
- Fair gateways and authentication,
- Privacy enhancing innovations and privacy invasive innovations,
And based on these categories, the study revealed that the lowest ranked company is none other than, Google.
- User personal information is retained by Google for an indefinite period of time, without giving the users option to delete those information,
- Google records and maintains search strings and IP addresses of users for 18 to 24 months without giving a clear policy on when those information are deleted from the system,
The other reasons cited are specific to the various web apps services provided by Google such as Orkut, Google Toolbar, Google Maps, Google Video etc. The report gives a consolation to Google by citing that none of the companies received a “green” status or none of the internet companies is actually privacy friendly and privacy enhancing. However, Microsoft, one of Google’s major rival got a ranking that is two steps “friendlier” than Google. Yahoo on the other got a “red” status meaning the company poses a substantial threat to privacy.
In response to the report, Google’s Deputy General Counsel, Nicole Wong said:
“We are disappointed with Privacy International’s report, which is based on numerous inaccuracies and misunderstandings about our services. It’s a shame that Privacy International decided to publish its report before we had an opportunity to discuss our privacy practices with them.”
Meanwhile, Privacy International accused Google of conducting smear campaign to discredit Privacy International and the findings of their study.
Expect more Google press release regarding this issue by Monday. Let’s see how Google will further react to the findings of the study. But then, does it really have to? Should Google be afraid that the confidence of its user base would go down? Your guess is as good as mine.