Does Anyone Really Care Where Google Places Its Privacy Policy?

from the isn't-it-more-important-what's-in-it? dept

In the past, we've discovered that most people don't read a website's privacy policy, and many (incorrectly) assume that as long as a site has a privacy policy, then it means that the site will keep their info private -- even if the policy is to say the exact opposite. Basically, what this means is privacy policies are almost entirely meaningless. Yet, some still think they're important for show. Even more than that, they think that where you put the privacy policy matters. And that's put Google into a bit of a bind, as it tries to join the Network Advertising Initiative, a trade group that sets standards relating to how companies collect data for advertising purposes. The problem is that one of the NAI's principles is that the proper thing to do is put a link to your privacy policy on the homepage -- something that Google refuses to do. Google, of course, takes the look and feel of its front page rather seriously, and refuses to clutter it with anything it feels is unnecessary (other than the copyright notice, which was added after tests showed people didn't know if the page had finished loading).

All in all this seems like a totally pointless debate. As Google points out, if you want to find Google's privacy policy from the front page, the easiest thing to do is type "google's privacy policy" into the search box and you'll get there fast enough. Luckily, it looks like the NAI will likely relent and allow Google to join. However, isn't it about time that a trade group like this actually focused on things that mattered -- such as what's actually in a privacy policy, or whether companies live up to it (or whether users care), rather than where the privacy policy is linked?

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