When do you start feeling like your privacy is threatened?

Posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2010 at 10:45 am by Engine Communications

I know there are many blog posts and news articles addressing the morality of internet privacy, but there seemed to be an influx of key issues recently. Browsing through my reader, it seemed like every second article Mashable was publishing had to do with privacy issues dealing with Google. I have always had the opinion that if you “have nothing to hide, then there should be nothing to worry about”, but those sentiments are slowly starting to change as the company continues to grow. At what point is there too much information available online?

Privacy and National Governments

If you are not familiar with the story covered by Mashable, recently the privacy commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, along with government personnel from France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom wrote a letter of concern to Google’s CEO about issues with Google Buzz and Google Street View. The letter claimed that Google Buzz disregarded fundamental privacy norms and laws as they converted Gmail into a social network. The letter also mentioned passed instances about facial images that failed to be blurred on Google Street view.

Another story, which I actually find pushes the limits further, is that Google will now be releasing the number of requests each country’s government has made for users’ personal information or for the removal of URLs from Google’s search index. Don’t believe me? You can find it here.

David Drummond, Google’s Vice President, stated that it “will lead to less censorship” with hopes of greater national transparency.

Even if this level of available information doesn’t irk you, at which point do we say enough is enough? What do you think the future holds for the relationships between large corporations like Google and national governments?

One viewpoint may be that Google is not doing anything wrong at all. We should grow to a more transparent society and these instances about Google Buzz, Google Street View and Government Requests are steps toward a more open society. The other viewpoint is that to some extent Google may be taking away the trust we have for our governments. Is Google growing to the point where they are becoming a worldwide policing force?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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  1. hmm, I was looking through here for the obligatory mention of Google Health: http://google.com/health – I know it raised a number of privacy concerns.

    I'm one for putting information out there in public – the people who need it can get it, and also the people who don't need it can also get it, but typically they don't care. When I see closed-circuit cameras in a store 'for their protection' against shoplifters, I don't see why that information shouldn't be shared with the public. I mean the public would still have access to it, but then I'd be able to use it for 'my protection' while shopping as well – the sharing of information allows for greater protection for all.

    anyway, some interesting reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Health#Priv

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