Watchdog Group Targets Google's Privacy Policy

By July 09, 2009

After a leak of a confidential Google presentation, Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based non-profit consumer advocacy and education organization, got busy. After meticulously annotating the slides, the organization sent it to Business Insider. According to the consumer awareness group, Google has been giving this presentation to policy makers in Washington, DC to promote the image of user transparency regarding its interest-tracking advertising. Although Business Insider points out that Consumer Watchdog has not brought a similar scalpel to Microsoft's privacy policies, there are many critical points made in the notes.

Wherever Google uses the term "Interest-based" advertising, the Watchdog replaces the term with "Behavioral." While this issue is merely semantic, it simplifies Google's rhetoric to what it actually is - spin. Behavioral advertising and marketing is already equated with privacy infringement, whereas "interest-based" is more vaguely neutral.

These words are exactly those that keep coming up in the Watchdog notes. "Spin," and "vague," ever the enemies of transparency, the concept that Google is allegedly trying to promote in DC.

Google's new Chrome OS, as well as the Chrome Web browser and other products by the company have used security as a main selling point. But this is Watchdog's other main target, with numerous sources undermining Google's claims.

Bruce Schneier, security technology author, has said that the security claims being made about Chrome OS are "idiotic." The blog post announcing the OS said that the underlying security architecture would make the user's experience free from viruses, malware and security updates. But, according to Schneier, it is impossible to create a completely immune OS.

Consumer Watchdog believes that Google employs user tracking, data collection and activity targeting. A response to these statements would help to determine what to expect with Google's OS, where issues of security and privacy will be even more relevant.

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