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FTC Releases Google Privacy Audit, Blacks Out the Details 57

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-for-your-eyes dept.
chicksdaddy writes "Google could tell you about its privacy practices except, well....they're private. That's the conclusion privacy advocates are drawing after the Federal Trade Commission took a black marker to an independent audit of the company's privacy practices before releasing it to the group EPIC in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Security Ledger is reporting that the FTC released a copy of a Price Waterhouse Coopers audit of Google that was mandated as part of a settlement with the FTC over complaints following a 2010 complaint by EPIC over privacy violations in Google Buzz, a now-defunct social networking experiment. However, the agency acceded to Google requests to redact descriptions of the search giant's internal procedures and the design of its privacy program."
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FTC Releases Google Privacy Audit, Blacks Out the Details

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Don't be XXXX.
  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @10:19PM (#41555083) Journal

    We must assume the worse.. that Google's 'privacy practices' are hogwash. You have no privacy with Google. Let them prove otherwise.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      failure in the first sentence.

      Why would we assume the worst? I don't even understand how that is supposed to be a compelling argument.

      You have no privacy with anything - why should that be specific to google?

      Oh right, please use the privacy-friendly search engine that uses bing instead, right? /facepalm

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Because according to Google's Eric Schmidt "if you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." Google doesn't want us to know about it, so maybe be they shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

      • Unchecked authority/power/influence (or even the illusion of impunity) will always be abused. That's a proven fact. It's only natural. You can confirm it with any experiment you want. Or you can check the results of the ones that have already been performed. So, we need to put a price on it. The only way to keep it honest is to enclose it in glass. Make every detail public. And it will serve to keep the riff-raff out of desiring any such position. If somebody wants authority, they should be stripped naked (

      • Oh right, please use the privacy-friendly search engine that uses bing instead, right? /facepalm

        This sounds exactly like the typical "Would you rather have Romney do that..." that we keep reading every time someone has a valid criticism against Obama.

        You first claim that he doesn't have an argument to assume the worst and later say that there's no privacy anywhere (assuming the worst everywhere?).

  • I'm sure they'll get a free pass from a good chunk of the community here.

    • This is pretty interesting - as of the time that I'm posting this, there are 41 comments and almost no moderation on this story. I regularly see stories posted at 10PM pacific and wake up the next morning to see 200+ posts, but not in this case.

      I suppose that we could say that this is just not really a story of interest. Perhaps, although before you make that argument, do you think that the comment count and moderation would be a little different if the headline had been:

      FTC Releases Apple Privacy Aud
  • privacy is evil (Score:4, Insightful)

    by minstrelmike (1602771) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @10:44PM (#41555189)
    If you're an advertiser, privacy is evil. And since google doesn't wish to be evil, they have to black out all the privacy stuff. It makes total sense.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 04, 2012 @10:58PM (#41555231)

    Interesting, the report specifies that user data is 1 of 3 types,
      - Log data (user activity)
      - Account data (Users emails, settings, etc)
      - Third type is redacted.. Wonder what it is

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by fustakrakich (1673220)

      Wonder what it is...

      Slashdot UID... Don't worry. You're safe

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      They state that they keep account data and that users are allowed to access and delete their account data, yet the part that describes exactly what data they keep is redacted. If I'm able to access all account data, why do they need to redact it? Surely I could just access my account data and find out exactly what was redacted? Surely this redacted part must necessarily be public knowledge?

    • by Xest (935314)

      The 3rd type is "Naked pics".

    • Is log data just access records for certain accounts, or does it include user history (sites browsed collected through GA etc?) If not I'd guess that's what it is.

    • ..access data, for keeping logs on who's tapped that persons private information and for why (fbi, cia..).

    • Interesting, the report specifies that user data is 1 of 3 types:

      • Log data (user activity)
      • Account data (Users emails, settings, etc)
      • Third type is redacted.. Wonder what it is

      I wonder if it could be something like "derived" or "deduced" data, which is information about the user obtained from other sources.

    • Interesting, the report specifies that user data is 1 of 3 types,
      - Log data (user activity)
      - Account data (Users emails, settings, etc)
      - Third type is redacted.. Wonder what it is

      If I had to take a guess, the third item would be:

      $$$ value of user (Past purchases, Purchasing power, Number of years before user dies and becomes worthless, etc.)

      Of course, Google wouldn't know for sure when you're going to die. It would just have a rough estimate (with a margin of error of + or - 2 hours).

  • My money's on the fact that they're building a massive biometric voice-print database on every single one of us every time we use Google's voice-to-text feature on an android device. Apple's not likely doing the same every time you use Siri. "Somebody"'s going to be very interested in accessing that information some day.
    • by Shihar (153932)

      Um, money well bet? When you use the Google voice features it asks if it can build a database based on your voice so that it responds better to you. You can say no and it will just default to a standard attempt at voice match. Say yes, and it will start learning... like what most voice software does.

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:23PM (#41555389)

    ...We can safely assume the blacked-out information would hurt both the government and Google to varying degrees. So now what to do about it?

    IMHO, the most effective personal strategy is to simply avoid using Google search and associated services. There ARE other services out there.

    https://www.ixquick.com/ [ixquick.com]

    For one example of a free service that emphasizes privacy and anonymity.

    Deprive both Google and the government of the very data they are collecting that gives them more power. Well, at least until they make it illegal to not reveal data.

    Strat

    • We can safely assume the blacked-out information would hurt both the government and Google to varying degrees.

      Not necessarily in any way that indicates something nefarious. Google likely has something at stake in the realm of business trade secrets which are frequently contained in information gathered in regulatory audits and are specifically exempted from FOIA requests.

      The government has an interest, too, in business cooperating with regulatory audits, and them becoming an indirect tool of corporate espio

      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        Other services which have had an external audit, based on the same criteria as the FTC-commissioned audit of Google, of their privacy practices which has been publicly released with no redactions? And, if not, how are they relevant to the immediate story?

        How about a service which doesn't collect the data in the first place, so that an audit is redundant?

        https://www.ixquick.com/eng/press/ixquick-privacy-gets-better.html [ixquick.com]

        If that's not relevant and on-topic then not much is.

        Strat

  • So Google says "Trust us" while simultaneously saying "we don't trust you." If the point of being under sanctions requiring monitoring by the FTC was to get away with anything it wants to, it succeeded.

    And how we an "independent audit" be trusted if it can't be vetted. It often occurs that government types enter the carousel of working for private industry after initially learning the ropes of regulation; it also often occurs that "independent audit" companies often create reports that are of benefit

  • by SeaFox (739806) on Friday October 05, 2012 @01:48AM (#41555917)

    ...is that the government cares more about Google's privacy than our own.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    [REDACTED]

  • .. what they have to hide ..

    Do evil. Google.

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