Google’s now a little pregnant on Do Not Track

August 18, 2010

In a big positive and under-reported Google privacy precedent, Google now has agreed to a new important privacy protection principle that people should be able to opt out of having their homes included in Google’s StreetView. Just yesterday in Germany, Google went live with a new StreetView op-out offering for Germans.

First, if it is a good consumer protection principle and option for German citizens, why shouldn’t it be a good policy and freedom for all citizens to enjoy in the 23 countries where Google has rolled out StreetView?

  • The FTC, and every one of the 37 states investigating Google’s StreetView WiSpy scandal, should ask Google why this new Google precedent and freedom of privacy should not be extended and made available to all their consumers?
  • The EU should ask why all EU citizens don’t deserve this new privacy right and freedom?
  • Why should Google have a two-tier Internet privacy policy, which discriminates against non-Germans?

Second, as TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis asked, if Google is establishing the privacy precedent that Google users should have the right and option to opt their homes out of Google’s StreetView tracking, why shouldn’t users themselves have the right and option to opt out of Google’s Total Information Awareness and pervasive tracking via search, Android, Chrome, ToolBar, Gmail, Google Analytics, AdSense, AdWords, etc.?

Shouldn’t the privacy of a person be even more important to protect than an inanimate object/place like a home?

Hopefully this new Google privacy precedent augurs well for Google eventually supporting the concept of Do Not Track legislation to allow Americans to opt out of being tracked online without their meaningful permission, which is potential legislation modeled after the wildly popular and successful Do Not Call registry that the FTC administers, and which was proposed by nine prominent consumer groups in 2007.

  • The June Zogby-Precursor poll on online privacy confirmed Americans very strongly want to have the right and option to opt out of the pervasive secret online tracking of their activities, like Google does.
    • “Nine in ten (88%) believe that tracking where Internet users go on the Internet without their permission is an unfair business practice, while 7% believe it is a fair practice.”
    • “Eight in ten (79%) support a national “Do Not Track List,” similar to the current national “Do Not Call List,” to prevent tracking where people go on the Internet, and 6% do not.”

In this highly contentious political environment — protecting Americans’ online privacy with a Do Not Track list — is one of the single most popular bipartisan issues in Washington and around the country.

  • People want the option to better protect their online privacy.
  • Hopefully Google will listen to their users and follow Google’s #1 principle “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”
  • If Google lives its stated values, it should allow all Google users, regardless of country, and regardless of product or service, to have the right and freedom to opt out of being tracked secretly by Google online.

 

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