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Google in crusade against neckties

Global privacy counsel obsessed with male physique

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A brief summation of Google's new privacy policies. One: Your search data will be made anonymous after it sits on the company's servers for 18 months. Two: Your Google browser cookies will expire if you don't visit the site for two years. And three: a man should not be allowed to hide his "shrinking shoulders" and "protruding paunch" behind a business suit and necktie.

Last week, after The Financial Times asked whether the necktie still has a future, Google's global privacy counsel fired off a letter to the venerable paper that clarifies the company's stance on the matter.

Photo of Red Brin

Following harsh criticism from privacy watchdogs, Google data retention guru Peter Fleischer recently unveiled changes to the company's server log and cookie policies, but he refuses to endorse the necktie, claiming that any privacy it affords is outweighed by its threat to physical health.

"It constricts circulation to the brain," he explained. "And it acts as decorative camouflage for the business suit, designed to shield the middle-aged male physique, with its shrinking shoulders and protruding paunch, from feeling sufficiently self-conscious to hit the gym."

He went on say that, in the long run, traditional business attire actually undermines trust between co-workers. "Men should lose their 'business attire' and wear T-shirts to work," he told The FT. "Wouldn't you like to know whether your business partners are fit? Why should you trust a man in business if he abuses his own body? And heaven knows what waves of creativity might be unleashed, when men are freed from conformist garb."

After The FT questioned whether alternative garb is a proper representation of male virility, Fleischer pointed to Google as proof that T-Shirt-wearing men can still have high testosterone levels: "If your fashion editor can hardly imagine a better garment for men to exhibit their personality, power and masculinity than wearing ties, well . . . I work at Google. Our unofficial motto is, 'Be serious without a suit.'"

Yes, he did say "unofficial motto," but Reg readers can rest assured that Fleisher laid out Google's necktie policy in his official capacity as global privacy counsel. There's little doubt that the company thinks its employees are overflowing with "personality, power, and masculinity."®

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