Feeds

Google dings missive to lawmakers: 'We're misunderstood'

Chocolate Factory promises it's not locking your privates in a vice

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Google has responded to US politicos who demanded answers after the advertising giant announced it was "simplifying" its privacy policies across its huge online estate.

In a letter to eight members of Congress, Google's director of public policy, Pablo Chavez, explained he was hoping to "correct some of the misconceptions" about the tweaks to Mountain View's Terms of Service.

"Some have expressed concern about whether consumers can opt out of our updated privacy policy. We understand the question at the heart of this concern," he added in his preamble.

"We believe that the relevant issue is whether users have choices about how their data is collected and used. Google’s privacy policy – like that of other companies – is a document that applies to all consumers using our products and services. However, we have built meaningful privacy controls into our products, and we are committed to continue offering those choices in the future."

Chavez went on to cheerily highlight various "key points" that Google wanted to "clarify".

Apparently, telling people that changes to Google's privacy policy were imminent shows that the company leads "the industry in transparency", but then we suppose that depends on exactly how one might wish to define the word transparency.

He reiterated comments made by the search biz last week about Google users' continued right to have "choice and control".

Chavez, who before joining the ad giant worked on - among other things - internet censorship and privacy for Republican Senator John McCain, went on to list the variety of privacy tools made available to punters with Google accounts.

The Google counsel skirted over the fact that users have to proactively opt out of being tracked around the internet by Mountain View - an opportunity presented when they log into Google+ and other products the company has knitted together.

He did say that "the privacy policy changes don't affect our users' existing privacy settings. If a user has already used our privacy tools to opt out of personalised search or ads, for example, she will remain opted out".

No more data will be collected by Google than is currently the case, Chavez said. Nor will any "personally identifiable information" be sold on.

"Our updated privacy policy simply makes it clear that we use data to refine and improve our users’ experiences on Google – whichever services they use. This is something we have already done for a long time for many of our products."

He used examples of how a user could keep Google services separate from one another. A Gmail user doesn't have to use Google+, Chavez said, without pointing out that all new signups to the email service are automatically logged into its social network by default.

A user can have different accounts, too, said Google's policy wonk. A surprising comment given how keen the company wants to be the online identity shepherd.

One of the changes to Google's privacy policy will see the company being able to pepper YouTube with relevant search results for individual users. We think this means Google has finally found a way to make money from the video-sharing website it bought in 2007 for $1.65bn.

On other plans for sharing data across its products, Google declined to comment, preferring to tell the members of Congress that it had nothing else to announce at this time. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.