Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Businesses The Internet Privacy Your Rights Online

EU Questions Google Privacy Policy 168

Posted by Zonk
from the they-seee-youuuu dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC is running a piece noting that the EU is scrutinizing Google's privacy policy this month. The company's policy of keeping search information on their servers for up to two years may be violating EU privacy laws. A data protection group that advises the European Union has written to the search giant to express concerns. The EU has a wide range of privacy protections that set limits to what information corporations may collect and what they may or may not do with it. In the US on the other hand privacy laws generally cover government actions while the business sector remains largely unregulated. Is it perhaps time to follow the European example and extend privacy laws to include corporations?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EU Questions Google Privacy Policy

Comments Filter:
  • by MonGuSE (798397)
    What you use or don't use is irrelevant as to what a company does with your data. Ever heard of information clearing houses? Basically huge databases set up just to collect individuals private data from everything the IRS, Criminal records, news reports, previous addresses, published papers, bank account info, credit accounts, investments everything. You can't keep companies from actively doing that without living completely off the grid.... Think about your statements next time.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Raydome777 (983995)
      The United Kingdom has a law (Data Protection Act (1984)) whose main point is to prevent companies from building those sort of databases. If you hold personal data about an individual you are under a legal obligation to to allow access to that individual access to that data so that they can check it is accurate, guarentee its security and you have have a good story on the information's relavance.

      Obviously, this was all put in place before the Internet so its all a bit pointless, but I guess where the BBC i
      • by nevali (942731)
        No; the only real purpose of the Act is to make sure that the information in these massive databases is correct, under the auspices of doing some sort of favour to the public. It does nothing to stop them collecting information that you unwittingly make available, directly or otherwise.

        There is a relatively ineffective legal framework governing how collected information can be disseminated, but it's not really stopped the likes of, say, the credit reference agencies from doing what they've always done--whic
  • by kungfujesus (969971) on Friday May 25, 2007 @11:39PM (#19279517)
    Wow! I now owe my friend 20 bucks! Damn, I never thought I'd lose that bet.
  • No. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ScentCone (795499)
    Don't like a company's privacy policy? Don't patronize them. Don't like the lack of companies providing a particular service in a way that you DO like? You're probably not alone. Start one, using the money that you'll no doubt be able to attract, just like the Google guys were able to attract the money to start theirs. Think that some Evil US Corporation is operating on the internet in a way that you just can't stand? Unplug it from your country - your citizens surely won't mind.

    Think "corporations" shou
    • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by martin-boundary (547041) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @01:07AM (#19280147)
      That's not so easy. If you have a friend who uses gmail, then whenever you send your friend an email, Google will keep *your* email for god knows how long. And they certainly didn't ask *you* about it. So your simplistic solution "don't patronize those kinds of companies" doesn't work.
      • by ScentCone (795499)
        If you have a friend who uses gmail, then whenever you send your friend an email, Google will keep *your* email for god knows how long. And they certainly didn't ask *you* about it. So your simplistic solution "don't patronize those kinds of companies" doesn't work.

        Sure it does. Don't send e-mail to people who are supporting a business you don't trust. If you have actual, persuasive, sensible reasons to think that Google is Officially Evil, then you should have absolutely no trouble convincing an actual
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Uh, it's not like you can tell if they use google or not. Your friend might have a vanity email with redirection to his gmail account, or his ISP might use a google backend, etc.

          Finally, if I say something in private to my friend, I don't see what business it is of Googles (or any other company) to snoop on what I'm saying. This has nothing to do with Google being Evil(TM) or not, it's just common sense. In fact, it would be silly to say that nearly everybody in the world is Evil(TM) just because I don't

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Liquid-Gecka (319494)

        So then tell your friend you won't email him at GMail. I am sorry, email is NOT something you can easily protect based on the very nature of how it is delivered and how much control there is at every point along its delivery route. Concerned about that? Encrypt your emails. Expecting email to be "private" is a joke. Its just like saying that your posts on a blog are private because you turn on some control lists.

        Also, have you ever read Googles privacy policies? Its the only company that doesn't blanket st

        • When I email a personal friend, I am not blogging on some random website, so I don't see how the two are supposed to be the same.

          Also, have you ever read Googles privacy policies?

          I don't need to read Google's privacy policy, since I'm not a gmail user. I'm not asking them for a service, they're the ones who insist on snooping on my words if I email a certain friend.

          BTW, privacy policies don't protect customers over the long run. When a company wants to modify their policy, they phase it out with ol

        • Concerned about that? Encrypt your emails. Expecting email to be "private" is a joke.

          It's not about them reading your messages.

          It's about them using the headers to link your email address(*) with all searches, cookies and ad-sense carrying sites browsed from your IP.

          (*)Hence really your identity, if a message with you professional address, say, ends up forwarded to one of their accounts. )

    • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Saturday May 26, 2007 @01:27AM (#19280297) Homepage Journal

      Don't like a company's privacy policy? Don't patronize them.

      This libertarian idea is wonderful in theory, but not so easy in practice. If all of the companies in a given market have economic incentives to make use of your private data, they will all err on the side of making more revenue, not protecting your privacy. In a publicly-owned company, the profit motive will always beat out any concerns that are considered secondary. Even where a company knows that privacy is important to users, they also know it is not *the* most important determining factor for customers. Therefore, even though it might be high on the list of customer concerns, all the companies in the market will still ignore it.

      For an example of this in action, look at those obnoxious watermarks all American TV channels now display. Nobody likes it, but it's not enough of a detriment that people won't watch whatever ABC, CBS, NBC, et al, is showing. The fact that they all do it makes it impossible to show your displeasure by switching channels anyway.

      Your example of the landscaping company records is a red herring. These sorts of customer service businesses only gather information related to the work they do for you, while search engines gather a much broader range of information. The fact that small service businesses get audited is irrelevant as well. Nothing in the audit records is going to provide anything beyond transaction dates and amounts. Generally speaking, Mom & Pop's Garden Service doesn't get routinely attacked by ambitious hacker networks, either.

      I understand that you enjoy the benefits of companies using your personal information to provide better service. So do I. So do the vast majority of people. But I think it's a gross simplification to say that as a practical matter we really have much choice in the matter.

      • by VON-MAN (621853)
        "all companies will err on the side of making more revenue"

        Yes, I agree. I find it disturbing that this must be explained so often. Also, I would like to add that this behavior should be fully expected from a company. And that is exactly why government should protect the general populace (and companies) from companies with law.
      • Here's a libertarian approach to privacy: treat personal information like material property. And give each individual absolute property rights over his or her personal information. If you wanna do anything with my personal information, even just stamp it on a magazine sticker to mail me a subscription, you gotta get my permission. Just like if it was a trademark, or an article I copyrighted. And I, only I, have the right to rent out my personal information. Just like if it was my car. See? Libertar
    • Don't like a country's privacy laws? Don't do business there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CaptainZapp (182233) *

      Don't like a company's privacy policy? Don't patronize them.

      Don't like European laws? Don't do business there.

  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeevesbond (1066726) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @12:36AM (#19279925) Homepage

    So, due to privacy concerns, the EU dislikes Google storing data on its users, but forces ISPs to retain data for two years [slashdot.org]? Under the catch-all excuse of 'terrorism' no less.

    In the US on the other hand privacy laws generally cover government actions while the business sector remains largely unregulated. Is it perhaps time to follow the European example and extend privacy laws to include corporations?

    They could follow each others example: the EU could introduce laws to stop government snooping, whilst the US introduces laws to stop corporate snooping. Personally I find the EU government snooping worse than Google, at least Google is a product choice, government laws can't be worked around. Although the purchase of Double-click does make Google's tracking somewhat difficult to avoid when surfing around.

    Failing that, just use Scroogle [scroogle.org] and/or Tor [eff.org] and/or an ad-blocker. :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Personally, I find the US policy worse. With government snooping, there is parliamentary oversight in principle and the ability to change laws later, which is a lot better than trusting greedy investors and holier than thou companies to not sell my data to third parties, like crazy marketers, credit reporting and insurance companies, or front companies for organized crime.

      Politics aside, as a rule I think that whichever solution limits more the spreading around of my data is the solution I prefer, at leas

    • by VON-MAN (621853)
      "EU government snooping"??? There is NO such thing. There are, however, EU laws regarding "snooping". But that is really something different. (You were thinking of the British government that's snooping, CCD cams come to mind).

      "Personally I find the EU government snooping worse than Google, at least Google is a product choice, government laws can't be worked around."

      Let's just straighten this remark out: "I can stop using Google, and with the next elections I can send my government home." these are you
      • Well, given that the British are more video monitored than any country in the world, I think the idea that somehow there is no government snooping there is pretty confused. And have you ever examined how the Value Added Tax records can be used to monitor private business dealings and personal purchases?
        • by VON-MAN (621853)
          I really don't know what those "Value Added Tax records" are, but I do know of many reduction cards used by bigger stores that are used for all kind of demographic profiling. And really, this is the choice you are given, convenience and better pricing against privacy concerns.
    • by malsdavis (542216)
      "Personally I find the EU government snooping worse than Google,"

      This is the difference between USA and EU citizens' privacy worries. On the most part, very few people in Europe worry about what government agencies do with their personal info, but are extremely worried about how corporations use it. As opposed to the USA where it's the opposite way around.

      It seems to be related to wider cultural differences. Europeans tend to trust public institutions a lot more than they trust large corporations whereas Am
  • by McGiraf (196030)
    What about the other laws? The ones about data retention by the ISPs so governments can subpoena it when they want to? Emails, Proxy logs etc? no privacy concern there? sheesh ...
    • There is a big gap (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The governement is beholden to respect the privacy law, and justify (with a judge signed document) getting those ISP kept data. Sure you can argue that they can abuse the power, but this would then be illegal. On face value the governement also cannot resell your data to somebody else. On the other hand corporation can do whatever they want including reselling your data to the most shaddy part of the world. This is partially why there is a privacy law in the EU because it is recognized of the possible abuse
    • by VON-MAN (621853)
      Yes. What about them? The EU is harmonizing data privacy laws in the whole of Europe. Google, when operating in the EU, isn't exempt from these laws. And yes, absolutely, there are enormous privacy concerns with those retention laws (and I doubt that it'll be a big problem for the real terrorists).

      It should be noted that not the emails themselves a kept, but the logs of the mailservers. Just as mobile phone records are kept and not the actual conversations. The differences there should be obvious.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @01:25AM (#19280273)
    The same EU that requires its ISP to store every connection you make, complete with timestamp and endpoints involved, for at least 6 months, but for however long the governments in the member states deem appropriate? The same EU that wants this information to be easily accessable by everyone who has a "vested interest" to hunt down legal offenses? Without describing too closely what a "vested interest" could be or whether only other governments or even some private organisations can access that information at will.

    We're talking about that EU, yes?
    • by da_matta (854422) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @02:51AM (#19280831)
      The important difference in this is that the data stored by ISP's is for law enforcement purposes and requires a court order for access. There are also very strict regulations about who/why/when can access and how to log that access. Google and other companies store and use data to make profit with very little regulation.
      • So? If you don't like using Google, don't use their services. You can't get around the ISP tracking nearly as easily.
        • by Tim C (15259)
          And when every search engine collects similar data from their users and uses it in similar ways, do you simply stop using search engines?
          • If there's a demand for one that doesn't, then there will come a service that fills that demand.
            • by Ravnen (823845)
              In theory, yes. In practice, most users aren't perfectly informed about what data is saved by a search engine, how long it's saved, how it's used, whom it's shared with, etc.
    • by asninn (1071320)
      Yes, that's the same EU.

      Has it ever occurred to you that the world is not black and white? Just because an entity does SOME bad things doesn't mean that EVERYTHING it does is bad. You'd think that people from the USA of all places would understand that.
    • by VON-MAN (621853)

      The same EU that wants this information to be easily accessable by everyone who has a "vested interest" to hunt down legal offenses?

      No.
      With 'everyone who has a "vested interest"' you mean the judge and secret services, don't you?

      Without describing too closely what a "vested interest" could be or whether only other governments or even some private organisations can access that information at will.

      No.
      It is in fact exactly the other way around. These things are very precisely described.

  • If they get to take the "We have to abide by local laws" in the case of China, they'll be similarly obliged to change their ways in Europe as well. Unless, of course, they want to reveal themselves to be two-faced, scum-sucking bastards.

As the trials of life continue to take their toll, remember that there is always a future in Computer Maintenance. -- National Lampoon, "Deteriorata"

Working...