Google has issued a strong defence of its privacy practices after facing criticism in a report issued by a London-based human rights group.

Privacy International assessed privacy at popular internet destinations, including Amazon and AOL.

In a scathing outcome, the group ranked Google in bottom place, stating:-

"While a number of companies share some of these negative elements, none comes close to achieving status as an endemic threat to privacy.

"Google's increasing ability to deep-drill into the minutiae of a user's life and lifestyle choices must in our view be coupled with well defined and mature user controls and an equally mature privacy outlook.

"We have witnessed an attitude to privacy within Google that at its most blatant is hostile, and at its most benign is ambivalent."

Privacy International complained that Google does not follow OECD and EU data protection law, that it keeps tabs on users' hobbies and other personal information and that it records search queries against IP numbers for up to two years - the same concern that is currently under scrutiny by a group of European Union data protection officials.

In a tersely-worded response, Google 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."

Concerns have been mounting in recent weeks as to Google's increasing size, breadth and importance.

The US Federal Trade Commission is due to assess the company's $3.1bn acquisition of DoubleClick on competition grounds.


Published 11 June, 2007 by Robert Andrews

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