Google privacy issues have been highlighted in an open letter to Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt. The letter signed by privacy officials from 10 nations including UK Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, flags up Google Streetview privacy issues and looks back at all those Google Buzz teething problems.
The Google privacy open letter calls was penned by Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddard but has attracted the signatures of 10 other privacy tsars from around the world including France and Germany where Google Streetview has long been viewed with suspicion.
The letter says Google should deal with privacy issues by sticking to a set of “fundamental privacy principles” when it creates new services and says “the privacy rights of the world’s citizens are being forgotten as Google rolls out new technological applications”.
Google Buzz, which launched to a storm of complaints, gets another bashing and Stoddard says the privacy problems caused by making contacts automatically public “should have been readily apparent” to Google.
Google Streetview and the famous Google “in beta” badge come in for a kicking too with Stoddard stating: “Launching a product in ‘beta’ form is not a substitute for ensuring that new services comply with fair information principles…”
Eric Schmidt famously commented in an interview last year: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
While the signatories of the Google privacy open letter have requested a response from Google, it says it has no further comments to add other than a short statement:
“We try very hard to be upfront about the data we collect and how we use it, as well as to build meaningful controls into our products. Of course we do not get everything 100% right…”