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January 30, 2013

Google’s Newly Rediscovered Concern for Privacy

Google Privacy

If I had a penny for every time Google claimed that they take privacy seriously- even though in futility as several incidents point to the contrary, I ‘d have a company as huge as Google myself. The company’s recent settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for breaking privacy promises and its commitment in the past year to put up with 20 years of FTC privacy audits in lieu of “deceptive privacy practices” is making the company privacy deal with privacy with new improved and upgraded seriousness. In 2010 Google confessed over the revelations about the Street View cars data that it had been accumulating from open unsecured WIFI access points, after the incident Google appointed Alma Whitten to be its director of privacy, also added an information security awareness program for employees and started requiring engineering product managers to keep privacy design documented for every single project.

Now the company is further formalizing internal processes to test product privacy with the formation of a “red team” which is going to be a group that would attempt to challenge the organizations defenses in order to make them more effective. In the security world this is usually done as a way of penetration testing. For example, financial institutions often hire hackers to try and break into their systems in order to see where the cracks are and how can they be filled.

New hires shows your concern

Recently, a Google job posting noted by Kaspersky Lab is calling for candidates to apply for the job of Data Privacy Engineer for the Privacy Red Team. The company hopes that the selected candidate would be expected to help ensure that Google products are designed to the highest possible standards and however they are operated the privacy of the users is protected. It also expects the candidate to work as a member of Privacy Red Team and independently locate research and help deal with potential privacy risks across all Google’s products, services and business processes functioning nowadays. However, the company’s response upon this search for new hires was rather shy as the spokesperson responded we are always looking for talented people for various roles.

Privacy…..or…..privacy?

When it comes to privacy concerns Google has had a different set of preferences perhaps, or so it seems, as the priority has often been speed or other values over privacy. In this regard, for quite some time now, the company has lagged in terms of privacy issues. The incident in 2008 whereby Google was censured by Joel Anderson, a California State Assemblyman, for not having a link to its privacy policy on the homepage as per the state law, whereas the company was more inclined towards saving those extra bytes of data that the text for privacy policy would add to its speedy homepage, not to mention clutter the space as well.

However, the seriousness of Google’s much touted and newly rediscovered concern about privacy becomes dubious when other vying parties provide protections that Google does not, for example the Do Not Track setting, not that this setting is a complete protection and keeps all kinds of computer monitoring software, cell phone spy apps for one’s, etc away, but the fact that most other browsers are offering except for Chrome.

Author Bio:

Natalia David has become a reliable name in the sphere of technology. Her work regarding cell phone security apps and PC security has earned her great recognition. You can also follow her on twitter @NataliaDavid4

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