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Google Privacy

Google Privacy Director Alma Whitten Leaving 73

Gunkerty Jeb writes "Alma Whitten, the director of privacy at Google, is stepping down from that role and leaves behind her a complicated legacy in regards to user privacy. ... Whitten has been at Google for about 10 years, and while she has been the main public face of the company's product privacy efforts in the last couple of years, she has been involved in engineering privacy initiatives for even longer. Before becoming the privacy lead for products and engineering in 2010 in the aftermath of the Google Street View WiFi controversy, Whitten had been in charge of privacy for the company's engineering teams. During that time, she was involved in the company's public effort to fight the idea that IP addresses can be considered personally identifiable information."
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Google Privacy Director Alma Whitten Leaving

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  • Google + Privacy? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by peppepz ( 1311345 )
    When we talk about the company's "privacy efforts", we're talking about them fighting privacy?
    • Tobacco companies have a Health director, so Google having a Privacy Director shouldn't seem so strange...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The last two companies I worked at had officers sending stern warnings about how important corporate privacy was in one gmail while in another gmail saying how they expected employees to all be on google docs for sharing corporate spreadsheets and product planning, etc.

    It must be nice being google. It's like having thousands of US corporations all volunteering to install your listening devices throughout their offices.

    • Does the same apply to printer manufacturers, lawyers and accountants, etc? Doing anything remotely inappropriate with corporate (or personal for that matter) information would destroy their business model. Stop watching Microsoft advertisements.

    • Erh... forward those mails to the CISO and ask him for his input. Should be fun.

  • Kids, this is what an oxymoron is - "The Director of Privacy for Google". Another example - "Military Intelligence"
  • by girlinatrainingbra ( 2738457 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @04:08AM (#43335429)
    Whitten had been in charge of privacy for the company's engineering teams. During that time, she was involved in the company's public effort to fight the idea that IP addresses can be considered personally identifiable information

    Well, on the one hand, the idea that IP addresses are not personally identifiable information is of benefit to the masses when arguing against RIAA/MPAA attacks saying "this IP address downloaded XYZ, thus the current user of said IP address is responsible", because an IP address is not a personal identifier.
    On the other hand, google can then say that they keep track of IP addresses and other information which combine to become personally identifying information.
    See the EFF's site Panopticlick [] to see the huge amount of identifiable information your web-browsing leaves behind, especially if you have javascript enabled. If google argues that your IP addy isn't personally identifiable info, then they can't get in any trouble for keeping track of it, even though in combination with your "user agent string" and the leaked browser information, they certainly can keep track of you.

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      Personally identifiable facts separated from there other facts my be PI without actually being enough to identify on there own. Knowing only your birth date I can't do much but if I have your birthday and full name I can come up with a much smaller list of candidate people who might be you.

      There need not be a direct connection between some datum being characterized as PI and using it as a unique and reliable identifier. That said, I don't disagree with googles position; having to treat IP addresses as PI

  • I'm assuming this is a part-time position and she's the only one in her team...
  • by tehcyder ( 746570 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @04:20AM (#43335463) Journal
    "Director of privacy at Google" is the only funny April Fool's joke on slashdot this year.
  • "Alma Whitten, the director of privacy at Google"


  • I have a feeling I'm going to get flamed for this, but given that Google has been giving out free cloud storage, free word processing (on the cloud) and other nice things to have, is it an issue (Right now?) I mean, if Google actually uses my information for anything more than advertising, I would be kind of pissed, but I have yet to hear of anything like that.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Google goes to extraordinary lengths to anonymize usage data. There are only like 4 people in the whole Google that have access to the RAW logs, other people get them only after anonymization and any attempt to gain an access to RAW data ends up with immediate termination.

      The question is if this practice would continue after Alma's departure, or she left because there was something being cooked she disagreed with.

  • I understand IPv4 might not be personally identifiable, but you are supposed to keep your IPv6 subnet forever. Sure, there's some privacy extension which is supposed to help, but IIRC that only assigns randomized addresses in your own /64 subnet - not helping much in this case...
  • During that time, she was involved in the company's public effort to fight the idea that IP addresses can be considered personally identifiable information.

    So she led the charge to try to make as much stuff declared not private as possible, and wasn't ever actually a privacy advocate. Did she try to argue that the wi-fi information they scraped wasn't private either?

    She'll no doubt be replaced with someone who cares even less about privacy.

    Sadly, Google is evolving into a douchebag corporation like every o

  • I'm sure she will enjoy her new position at Fox Hen-House Security Services.
  • Was this one of those "no-show jobs" we sometimes hear about?

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?