Feeds

Google tells Congress it's not Phorm

'Our users trust us'

Security for virtualized datacentres

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
'Serious flaws in the Vertigan report' says broadband boffin
Report 'fails reality test' , is 'simply wrong' and offers ''convenient' justification for FTTN says Rod Tucker
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
Shades of Mannesmann: Vodafone should buy T-Mobile US
Biting the bullet would let Blighty-based biz flip the bird at AT&T
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
Net neutrality fans' joy as '2.3 million email' flood hits US Congress
FCC invites opinions in CSV format, after Slowdown day 'success'
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.