Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Google Brain Implants: Not yet, likely never

You have to love the opening of this recent article about Google, sourced from Reuters, but written up by New Zealand TV:

Most people missed the announcement about how Google Inc. wants to burrow inside your brain and capture your most intimate thoughts. That's because it never happened. But Google, the world leader in web search services, is the focus of mounting paranoia over the scope of its powers as it expands into new advertising formats from online video to radio and TV, while creating dozens of new internet services.

Interestingly the article -- available online here -- quotes two people at Google who work on privacy. A lot of the recent Google/privacy stories, sparked by the Privacy International press release about its interim report, give the impression that nobody at Google bothers with privacy. The NZ story quotes Nicole Wong, "the Google attorney who oversees a team of lawyers who consider privacy and other policy issues that go into the making of each product," and Peter Fleischer, "Google's global privacy counsel."

So it sounds like Google has a lawyer devoted to privacy and another attorney leading a product review team that has privacy as part of its remit. This is clearly not enough for some privacy advocates and so, if I was Google I would very publicly create a job entitled Chief Privacy Officer and then hire someone with a good industry reputation for the post. That might allay the fears of privacy advocates. In the meantime I am keeping a watch out for any surveys that indicate consumers have any privacy fears that are keeping them away from Google.

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