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Google's Privacy Excuse Algorithm Team - a Satire

Memo: To All Google Spokespeople

From: Brandi Sparkles & the Privacy Excuse Algorithm Team (PEAT)

RE: The New Google Public Line on FTC/State/EU Privacy Investigations

Google has changed the company's public line concerning our inadvertent, unintentional, un-anticipatable, accidental, unexpected, unwitting, un-premeditated, unconscious, and totally innocent bypassing of Apple Safari browser's privacy protections, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal February 19th, and which is now being investigated by the FTC, State Attorneys General, and the EU per the WSJ today.

Initially, Google said: "The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It's important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information."

Upon advice of our attorneys -- who informed us that the crux of Google's potential legal and financial penalty liability stems from whether or not Google's actions were intentional or willful -- we now fully, totally, completely, absolutely, and with-every-fiber-of-our-body, retract, repudiate, rescind, revoke and recant our original media statement because it dripped with intent and willfulness.

Our new statement previewed today in the WSJ: "We will of course cooperate with any officials who have questions, but it's important to remember that we didn't anticipate this would happen, and we have been removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers," is now the operative Google public statement going forward.

Suggested answers to possible media questions:

Question: Didn't Google's original public statement suggest that the "bypassing of privacy settings" was intentional in order "to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled?"

Answer: There was zero, nada, zip, zilch, no intent on Google's part, in the code that was specially written by Google engineers to bypass Apple's Safari browser privacy protections to enable Google+ buttons. We are profoundly sorry, that the original Google statement was a mistake, the result of one lone low-level Google PR staffer that did not know what they were talking about. And no, we will not be publicly disclosing that person's name, because Google takes the privacy of its own people very seriously.

Question: Does the fact that Google CEO Larry Page tied all employees' bonuses to the success of Google+, and this incident was to enable Google+ functionality throughout Apple's walled garden, suggest the possibility of any intent or willfulness on the part of Google or the Google employees involved?

Answer: Absolutely not. Google's well known motto is "Don't be Evil" and our first principle is "Focus on the user and all else will follow." At Google our aspiration is only "to make the world a better place."

Question: Why does Google seem to have so many privacy scandals?

Answer: Next question please.

Question: Wasn't the FTC-Google-Buzz privacy enforcement decree, which required Google to adopt a "comprehensive privacy program" with privacy by design built in from the bottom up, supposed to prevent privacy violations like the Wall Street Journal investigation alleges?

Answer: In our hearts we have abided by the agreement with the FTC. Our Chief Business Officer, Nikesh Aurora, has long said about the culture of accountability at Google: "We try not to have too many controls. People will do things that they think are in the interests of the company. We want them to understand the values of the firm, and interpret them for themselves."