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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Filed Under: privacy, privacy policies
Companies: google, network advertising initiative


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  1. identicon
    SearcH◆◇ EngineS WEB, 28 May 2008 @ 7:42am

    put in the dropdown menu - DUH

    Dont forget they now have a dhtml dropdown menu with links to virtually all of their vertical search sites [more]. The private policy could be at the bottom of that menu

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    MA, 28 May 2008 @ 7:56am

    it's present on http://www.google.com/ig

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Bill W, 28 May 2008 @ 7:59am

    The PP is on MY home page

    but I use iGoogle, maybe that's different.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, 28 May 2008 @ 8:01am

    Re: put in the dropdown menu - DUH

    if you click on the "about Google" link at the bottom of the main Google page, the privacy policy is right there. same amount of clicks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2008 @ 8:19am

    Come on now Mike...

    Why do you insist on trying to apply logic and common sense to all things related to the internet?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anon, 28 May 2008 @ 9:08am

    Readability Issue

    A friend of mine did some research (informal) where he fed the privacy policies of 10 popular websites into an application that discerned the reading education level of the text.

    He found that all of them were at a higher reading level than 90% of the US population.

    So figuring out how easy they are to find may not matter much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Petréa Mitchell, 28 May 2008 @ 9:13am

    I'd like to tell

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Petréa Mitchell, 28 May 2008 @ 9:15am

    I'd like to tell Google where to place its privacy policy

    Sorry, but a headline like that cries out for a response...

    If people expect to find a privacy policy through a link on the front page, then yes, it does matter, as it will be too big a cognitive shift for people to type "google's privacy policy" into the search box.

    The question is whether people are used to looking for a privacy policy at all, or whether they don't take them seriously. I'm sure someone out there is doing some research on that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    JS Beckerist, 28 May 2008 @ 9:38am

    Re: Readability Issue

    anything published? even an informal blog...that'd be an interesting read

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Chris, 28 May 2008 @ 9:46am

    Easy enough to find...

    Just click on About Google, and it is right there at the bottom of the page... Kinda obvious in my opinion..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Fsm, 28 May 2008 @ 10:27am

    Woot has a pretty readable privacy policy..

    Why can't they all be like this?

    https://www.woot.com/User/PrivacyNotice.aspx

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Stute, 28 May 2008 @ 10:37am

    It's on the iGoogle Homepage

    At the bottom:

    Advertising Programs - Business Solutions - Privacy Policy - Help - About Google


    So it's on the homepage, assuming you're logged in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Jake, 28 May 2008 @ 10:54am

    Re: Readability Issue

    Is this a web-app? I'd like to run a few things through it myself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2008 @ 11:40am

    Sounds like a case of petulance

    It's dumb of them to fight this hard for their "beautiful clean home page" when they have links to all kinds of stuff on their home page including the ridiculous "I'm feeling lucky" button. Sure they think that button is cute but how useful is it really?

    And they had no problems finding room for links to advertising and business options so they should suck it up an add the privacy policy just like they have at the bottom of the iGoogle home page

    I'm a Google fan but it is pretty clear from the above that the only reason they are protesting is because of a petulant "we are Google and we hate being told what to do" attitude.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Benjamin Wright, 28 May 2008 @ 11:54am

    legal contract

    Mike: If Google can assert its legal terms just by publishing them, then users can assert their own privacy terms just by publishing them! What do you think? --Ben http://hack-igations.blogspot.com/2008/05/google-privacy-policy-terms-of-service.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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