Feeds

Google tells Congress it's not Phorm

'Our users trust us'

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Google wants you to know that in targeting online ads, it doesn't use Phorm-like deep packet inspection. But it still refuses to acknowledge its own massive threat to the privacy of humankind.

Early last week, amidst the ongoing controversy over data tracking ad firms like Phorm and NebuAd, some Congressional big wigs asked thirty American ISPs if they'd ever used customer browsing data as a means of targeting online ads. And just for good measure, they tossed the same question at Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft.

We all know that Google uses customer browsing data as means of targeting online ads. But it does things a little differently than a Phorm-equipped ISP. And on Friday, Google responded with a letter (PDF) that promptly points out this nothing less than obvious distinction.

"Given your Committee's recent focus on deep-packet inspection in connection with advertising, we feel it important to state clearly and for the record that Google does not deliver advertising based on deep packet inspection," Google public policy and government affairs director Alan Davidson said in a letter to the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and other high-ranking lawmakers.

Google didn't actually badmouth deep-packet inspection - "we don't comment on third-parties," the search giant likes to tell us - but it seemed to imply that it frowns on the Phorm/NebuAd model - which does not require an opt-in. The next paragraph read like this: "In our quickly evolving business environment, ensuring that we can keep our users' trust is an essential constant for building the best possible products. With every Google product, we work hard to earn and keep that trust with a longstanding commitment to protect the privacy of our users' personal information. The bedrock of our privacy practices are three fundamentals: providing transparency, choice, and security."

Feel free to chuckle. Yes, unlike a Phorm or a NebuAd, Google is something you use by choice (assuming that other search engines actually provide an alternative). And it's not grabbing your surfing data from a third-party. But the sheer breadth of the data it collects is a problem in its own right. Google can talk about transparency, trust, and security all it likes. But no security is perfect. And a subpoena could nab that data at any time. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Mighty Blighty broadbanders beg: Let us lay cable in BT's, er, ducts
Complain to Ofcom that telco has 'effective monopoly'
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?