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Google’s Privacy Rap Sheet Updated: Fact-Checking Google’s Claim it Works Hard to Get Privacy Right – Part 30 Google’s Disrespect for Privacy Series

(The updated Google Privacy Rap Sheet is here.)

In response to Google getting sanctioned $7m for privacy violations by 38 State Attorneys General for its unauthorized collection” of private WiFi data nationwide between 2008 and 2010, Google’s public relations mantra is: “we work hard to get privacy right at Google, but in this case we didn’t, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue.

This current mantra has changed little from Google’s original public relations mantra in responding to the Street View WiSpy scandal: “it was a mistake” by “an engineer… the engineering team at Google works hard to earn your trust… We are profoundly sorry for this error and are determined to learn all the lessons we can from our mistake.”

In both instances, the PR strategy was to characterize the incident as an exception, not the norm, and to characterize Google as earnestly committed to protecting users’ privacy. The question to answer now: are Google’s representations true?

To fact-check Google’s representations of privacy earnestness, one needs to examine Google’s privacy-related behavior in the 33 months since the WiSpy scandal broke, to determine if Google actually has been walking its privacy talk.

If one examines this updated version of Google’s Privacy Rap Sheet, one can see over 40 public Google privacy problems or failures in the 33 months since they pledged “to learn all the lessons we can from our mistake.”

This updated privacy rap sheet is a list of succinct one-line descriptions of Google’s privacy offenses with each one accompanied by a source-link so that those who want to fact-check Google themselves -- can. The format is designed to give people an easy, quick and succinct, big picture overview of Google’s abysmal privacy record since Google publicly represented it would work hard to safeguard users’ privacy. It also goes back over a decade to provide further evidence of an unmistakable Google corporate pattern of hostility to privacy.    

In short, Google’s overall privacy track record over the last 33 months has gotten demonstrably worse not better, in part due to Google Android’s breakneck pace and corner-cutting to dominate the mobile OS and advertising markets. Sadly, the overwhelming public evidence shows Google has learned very little from the Street View WiSpy scandal.

Simply, Google is not walking its privacy talk.   


Google’s Disrespect for Privacy Research Series

Part 1:

Why Google is the Biggest Threat to Americans' Privacy; The Detailed Case from my House Testimony

Part 2:

Google Book Settlement "absolutely silent on user privacy"

Part 3:

Yet more evidence of Google's hostility to privacy

Part 4:

Google's Schmidt: "Because we say so" on why you can trust Google's Privacy Dashboard

Part 5:

Fact Checking Google's New Privacy Principles

Part 6:

Google's Privacy "Buzz" Saw

Part 7:

Exposing Google's Systemic Privacy Vulnerabilities

Part 8:

What Private Information Google Collects -- A One-Page Fact Sheet

Part 9:

What else does Google secretly track? Top 10 questions for privacy investigators to ask

Part 10:

Google's "Total Information Awareness" Power -- A one-page graphic of all the information Google has

Part 11:

Americans want online privacy -- per new Zogby poll

Part 12:

Why Privacy Is an Antitrust Issue & Why Google is its Poster Child

Part 13:

Google's Deep Tracking Inspection -- a privacy nightmare

Part 14:

Why is the FTC AWOL on Google Privacy?

Part 15:

Why Google's Privacy Controls are a Joke -- Lessons for FTC/FCC

Part 16:

Google's No Privacy by Design Business Model

Part 17:

FTC-Google Privacy Settlement Takeaways

Part 18:

Google vs Apple: How Business Models Drive Disrespect vs Respect for Privacy

Part 19:

Big Brother Inc. -- My Huffington Post Op-ed on Google & Privacy

Part 20:

"G-Male:" a very funny new Google privacy satire

Part 21:

Where's the Market for Online Privacy?

Part 22:

Google's Latest Privacy Scandal Spin – A Satire

Part 23:

Google's Top 35 Privacy Scandals

Part 24:

Google's Privacy Excuse Algorithm Team - a Satire

Part 25:

Google's Privacy Rap Sheet

Part 26:

Why FTC's $22.5m Google Privacy-Fine is Faux Accountability

Part 27:

Google's Top Ten Anti-Privacy Quotes

Part 28:

The Unique Google Privacy Problem -- My Presentation to Korean Privacy Council in Seoul

Part 29:

Google's Privacy Words vs. Google's Anti-Privacy Deeds