Google meets the privacy police

Lisa Napoli May 25, 2007
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Google meets the privacy police

Lisa Napoli May 25, 2007
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TEXT OF INTERVIEWLISA NAPOLI: E.U. regulators to Google: Stop violating our privacy. Maija Palmer of the Financial Times has been following the story.

MAIJA PALMER: The E.U. data protection commissioners are concerned about the length of time that Google is keeping search data. This is the data that they keep every time you search for something on Google.

NAPOLI: So they’re worried that over a period of time that if you look at everything that I search for, you can construct a profile about me and then do who-knows-what with it.

PALMER: Exactly, and we would know, you know, where you go to church, what you shop for, perhaps what you’re interested in doing on your days off. And all these things could be put together to create quite a detailed profile which somebody could abuse perhaps for identity theft or perhaps government surveillance. That’s also an issue.

NAPOLI: Why does Google say it needs to keep this information at all? And how long does it think it wants to keep it for?

PALMER: Well there’s two main reasons Google wants to keep this. First of all, they say that it’s for their own security. So by keeping this information and looking at it, they can spot abuses of their own system, people who might be wanting to use the AdWords system to commit click-fraud or hackers. So they say they need to be able to look at this and kind of identify malicious individuals an deal with that. So they say they have commercial and security reasons why they want to keep that data. So now what we’re sort of haggling over is, well how long should you keep it? And Google had proposed that they will keep it for up to two years and then after that they will make it completely anonymous. So they will keep some sort of vague statistics but unfortunately the privacy commissioners didn’t think that that was good enough so they’ve now come back to Google saying, ‘well we think two years is too long, you have to tell us why you think you should be allowed to keep it for this long.’

NAPOLI: Google meets up again with European regulators again in June.

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