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Google's Latest Privacy Scandal Spin – A Satire

(Note: The text in quotations are verbatim quotes from Google via a Politico post. The italics in [ ] is a satirical translation of what Google really is saying.)

“Google’s Rachel Whetstone, senior vice president for Communications and Public Policy issued the following statement to POLITICO regarding a WSJ report that the company has been bypassing the privacy settings of Apple's Web browser on iPhones and computers:”

“The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why.”

  • [Translation: What we really did is we hacked Apple. In an open Internet Apple has no right to use a walled garden to protect Apple users’ privacy from Google's omnipresent tracking. We hacked Apple to liberate private data that users and Apple were withholding from the world.]

“We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled.”

  • [Translation: We just did what other hackers have done.
  • Moreover, if someone signs into Google we consider that a carte blanche irrevocable license from that user to break into any competitor’s system so that we can make that competitor’s system operate as if Google owned it.
  • Furthermore, Google’s spoofing of Apple’s privacy controls system with an invisible form in order to trick that system into providing us access to private information is nothing like the spoofing that identity thieves and fraudsters do to trick unsuspecting Internet users into giving their private information, credit card numbers or passwords. That is an unfair analogy since the fraudsters motives are bad and Google’s motives are by definition only good.]

“It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.”

  • [Translation: What we really mean is that we have long known all of their “personal information” so we only need to collect the additional personal behavior information that users and Apple decided to keep from us.]

“Unlike other major browsers, Apple’s Safari browser blocks third-party cookies by default.”

  • [Translation: We are very annoyed anyone would protect users’ privacy as a matter of principle.]

“However, Safari enables many web features for its users that rely on third parties and third-party cookies, such as ‘Like’ buttons. Last year, we began using this functionality to enable features for signed-in Google users on Safari who had opted to see personalized ads and other content — such as the ability to “+1” things that interest them.”

  • [Translation: Google+ rules. Larry Page tied every Googler’s annual bonus to the success of Google+ so we’ll do whatever it takes to ensure Google+ succeeds.]

“To enable these features, we created a temporary communication link between Safari browsers and Google’s servers, so that we could ascertain whether Safari users were also signed into Google, and had opted for this type of personalization. But we designed this so that the information passing between the user’s Safari browser and Google’s servers was anonymous — effectively creating a barrier between their personal information and the web content they browse.”

  • [Translation: Trust us. We went to a lot of trouble to hack into Apple to take users’ private information that they did not want us to have, so be assured we will respect the privacy of that information.]

“However, the Safari browser contained functionality that then enabled other Google advertising cookies to be set on the browser. We didn’t anticipate that this would happen,…”

  • [Translation: Just like we did not anticipate that there would be a privacy uproar over: Google Street View collecting personal emails and passwords; Google Buzz making private Gmail contacts public; Google Android tracking users movements thousands of time a day without users’ knowledge; Google Books tracking everything one reads/researches; Gmail reading private emails to target advertising; etc. How could Google be expected to know this could happen?]

“…and we have now started removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers”.

  • [The WSJ caught us red-handed. We know we are busted so we are currently frantically covering up any evidence that anyone other than the single engineer responsible for this unfortunate coding mistake -- knew that this was going on. Only then will we apologize and say we are sorry.]

“It’s important to stress that, just as on other browsers, these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.”

  • [Translation: This is boring stuff, move along folks, nothing to see here, move along.]

“Users of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome were not affected.”

  • [Translation: No one has caught us hacking into Explorer yet and we don’t have to hack Chrome because we own it and for all intents and purposes we own Firefox too since we pay Mozilla ~$1b over three years to “partner” with Google.]

“Nor were users of any browser (including Safari) who have opted out of our interest-based advertising program using Google’s Ads Preferences Manager.”

  • [Translation: It’s the user’s fault because they did not opt out. Never mind that Google’s new consolidated privacy policy scheduled to go into effect March 1st 2012, is a monopoly take-it-or-leave-it proposition, with no opt out choice.]

[Translation: In short, Google hopes the EU will ignore this latest privacy kerfuffle and allow Google to ram through its consolidated privacy policy with no further investigation, because it should be clear by now that Google is not doing anything that is in conflict with users' privacy. Moreover, Google has big hopes that it can count on the FTC again to protect Google and react with a supportive yawn like the FTC did in ending the FTC’s WiSpy investigation based on Google’s promises in a blog post to not ever engage in deceptive privacy practices again. Both the EU and the FTC should know by now that Google is totally committed to privacy and tracking by design. Lastly, we are profoundly sorry we got caught again; it was simply a dishonest mistake.]

Update and Note: Please see the point-by-point rebuttal of Google's explanation here by the Stanford researcher who actually exposed Google's phone hacking.