Google’s stance against the European Commission on the subject of privacy – rolling out its new policy for sharing personal data among its sites despite warnings that it may breach European law – strikes me as foolhardy.
US companies that get into a tangle with the EU, often egged on by US supporters who believe that European regulators are over-reaching their powers, tend to come off worse from the struggle. The prime example was Microsoft in its anti-trust battle during the mid-2000s.
The pattern is in danger of being repeated, with supporters of internet freedoms such as Jeff Jarvis of City University of New York criticising the EU action and arguing that it is part of a pattern of government attempts at misguided regulation. Read more
A privacy storm has blown up over the revelation (if that is the right word) that iPhones and 3G iPads keeps data on the movements of their owners, which is backed up to personal computers when the devices are synchronised.
Al Franken, the Minnesota senator, has already complained about this fact, pointing out that:
“Anyone who gains access to this single file could likely determine the location of the user’s home, the businesses he frequents, the doctors he visits, the schools his children attend and the trips he has taken over the past months or even a year.”
Two researchers announced their findings on iPhone tracking data at a conference on Wednesday, only to be criticised by another one on the grounds that they were not saying anything new.
The news that Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites have been (unintentionally) sending some user details to advertisers adds to my growing sense that the companies either do not place a high enough value on privacy or are not careful enough about it.
It follows Google’s disclosure that it accidentally picked up personal information from WiFi networks while filming for its Street View service. Read more