Google called worst at protecting privacy

Google sign

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: While you were out going about your weekend chores, there was a brouhaha boiling in the online world.

The activist group Privacy International issued a report about the Internet companies it says are the worst about protecting consumer privacy. AOL, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft — they're all cited for posing substantial threats. But only one company ranked at the very bottom of the list.

Marketplace's Lisa Napoli now about how Google got the dubious distinction — and why.


Lisa Napoli: In its report, Privacy International isn't saying much that you haven't already heard about how powerful Google is — like how much information about you it collects and retains.

Search engine expert Danny Sullivan says by singling out one company as the worst, the report misses the larger privacy point.

Danny Sullivan: We don't need solutions for Google. We need solutions for companies in general.

Sullivan says it's important to remember it's not just Internet companies that hold the keys to our private lives. Just think about what businesses learn about you each time you buy something with a credit card or make a phone call.

Paul Stephens of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse says these days, we need to be mindful of how exposed we are.

Paul Stephens: Things that 20 years ago might have been locked up in a filing cabinet somewhere, you know, are now . . . seem to be out there for the whole world to see.

Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center says there's little question that with all its power, Google is one of the biggest threats to privacy out there today. But he says it doesn't have to be that way.

Marc Rotenberg: There really can be some better business practices, some good legislation, some ways to get the benefits of new technology without sacrificing so much privacy.

With Google's purchase of ad powerhouse Doubleclick looming, expect the privacy rights advocates to beat the privay drums even more loudly in the months to come.

In Los Angeles, I'm Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.

About the author

In more then twenty years in journalism, Lisa Napoli has managed to work for almost every major

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