Privacy Groups Miss The Point: It's Not Where Google's Privacy Policy Is, It's What It Does

from the focusing-on-the-wrong-thing dept

Last week, we wrote about the ridiculous concerns being raised by a few privacy advocates that (gasp!) Google doesn't include a link to its privacy policy on the front page. This seemed like a really pointless concern since almost no one reads these privacy policies anyway, and those who do often misunderstand the policy anyway. Besides, there are plenty of companies out there that don't even abide by their own privacy policies. In other words, the real issue isn't where the privacy policy is, but whether or not the company actually keeps its promises and treats its users' data properly.

And yet... a bunch of consumer and privacy groups, including ones I respect like the EFF and the ACLU are now trying to turn this into a big deal by publicly demanding that Google add a link to its privacy policy on its home page. This isn't about privacy. This is "privacy theater." It's about putting on a good show that has nothing to do with whether or not Google is doing right by its users. If there's a link to Google's privacy policy on its front page or not, it won't change what Google does with users' info, and it almost certainly won't change the way anyone (other than maybe these groups) view Google. It's all a big show for no reason. There are plenty of important causes that these groups should be working on. Worrying whether or not Google links to its privacy policy from its front page or one page deep is silly pandering.

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  1. icon
    John (profile), 4 Jun 2008 @ 3:09pm

    Fortune and glory

    To take a quote from an Indiana Jones movie, it sounds like this issue is about "fortune and glory".

    All of the "privacy companies" will gain "glory" (actually "notoriety") and bragging rights because they were the ones who "forced big bad Google to do what we want".

    It's very telling that they go after a fairly small issue (where to place a link on a site) rather than the larger issue of auditing sites to make sure they follow their own privacy policy. But, which issue is easier to handle and which will bring them "we beat Google" bragging rights faster?

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