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Head of privacy at Google leaves. Yes, that's a real job

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Google's top privacy wonk Alma Whitten is stepping down from her role at the company after three years in the job.

Her departure comes just weeks after Anne Toth, who was poached by Whitten from Yahoo! in 2011 to head up privacy at Google+, departed from Mountain View for personal reasons.

Forbes reported that Whitten was retiring from the ad giant. She was promoted by Google in the aftermath of a number of high-profile privacy blunders, including a major cock-up with the company's controversial fleet of Street View cars that slurped payload data from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks around the world.

Whitten's team was later tasked with pulling together more than 70 different privacy policies into one main terms-of-service, which led to an outcry from some of Google's users in March 2012 when the changes were implemented.

Google told Forbes:

During her 10 years at Google, Alma has done so much to improve our products and protect our users.

The privacy and security teams, and everyone else at Google, will continue this hard work to ensure that our users’ data is kept safe and secure.

Toth, who recently quit the company to care for her dying mother, was critical of reports covering Whitten's resignation that flagged up how uneasy it was to be a privacy wonk at Google right now:

She did a lot of good at Google. Could she have done more? I really don't know. Privacy can certainly be a thankless job as this shows. But I was glad to know Alma and glad to have gotten to work with her. I wish her the very best. I know Google is better for her having worked there.

Whitten will serve out her notice at Google before handing the job over to Lawrence You, who will head up the privacy and security team at the company. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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