There’s a story on Reuters today detailing how ten countries have issued a letter to Google asking that the corporation revise their policies as to data distribution and privacy. The letter; signed by the governmental data protection chiefs of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Spain; addresses the privacy issues addressed when Google Buzz leaked contacts into the public view, Google Street View in other countries in regards to blurring of faces and “continued concern about the adequacy of the information you provide before the images are captured,” and other requests to lessen the amount of information stored about users, clear terminology for how the data collected about users is to be used, strict protection of said information, and simple procedures for deletion. Frankly, this letter, in my opinion, is insulting and demonstrates that these heads of government for the protection of data have never spent a day using Google’s products.
Other companies mess up privacy as well, as the letter mentions in passing, and also clean up the messes left behind them, such as Microsoft’s late update to Internet Explorer 6, whose weak link allowed the Chinese government to hack into Gmail in December 2009. On March 22nd of this year Google stopped censoring their search results, sending queries from mainland Chinese users (Google.cn) to the Hong Kong servers (Google.com.hk) instead. Not only is Google leading the pack here in privacy concerns, but they’re also refusing to bow to the tyranny of oppressive governments censoring its subjects, providing the world with the right to information.
Where’s the letter to Microsoft for failing to maintain its software and allowing foreign governments to hack into the mainframes of more than twenty US companies in the Internet, finance, and chemical sectors? None of those guys are upset that Yahoo! sells user’s information to law-enforcement officials? Why aren’t they asking Farmville to better screen its advertisers to stop Scamville?