Scratch that slanderous stereotype about Canadians being pushovers
Stoddart, Privacy Commissioner of Canada, has fired off a strongly-worded complaint
to CEO Eric Schmidt about Google's cavalier attitude in the Google Buzz
launch. Her counterparts in France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Ireland,
Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom have co-signed. (Catch up on the broadly mixed reception to Buzz covered by the Wire here
says in the letter that the Buzz launch, in which Google "automatically
assigned users a network of 'followers' from among people with whom
they corresponded most often on Gmail, without adequately informing
Gmail users about how this new service would work ... violated the
fundamental principle that individuals should be able to control the
use of their personal information." Google may have
corrected the mistake, but Stoddart states on behalf of her
cosignatories that "we remain extremely concerned about how a product with
such significant privacy issues was launched in the first place. We
would have expected a company of your stature to set a better example."
Yet this is not the first time Google created privacy problems that had be fixed "after the fact." Stoddart cites the company's belated response to concerns about its "retention of unblurred facial images" from Google Street View. She and the others conclude by calling on Google "to
incorporate fundamental privacy principles directly into the design of
new online services." (These "principles" are laid out in six bullet points.) The letter concludes with a request for Google's plan to address future privacy concerns before new products roll out.
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