Google measures fail to reassure privacy groups

P13_Google_HandPrivacy lobby groups have criticised Google’s move to revise down its data retention policies, saying the measures have not gone far enough to protect the privacy of its users.

Despite the internet company’s decision to reduce the time it waits to “anonymise” user IP addresses from 18 months to nine months, in response to continued pressure from European Union regulators over the issue of privacy, both the Enterprise Privacy Group and World Privacy Forum have questioned why Google needs to collect user data in the first place.

Toby Stephens, a director at the Enterprise Privacy Group, says: “The only way to protect users’ privacy is not to retain this data in the first place, or at least to offer an effective opt-out mechanism.”

Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, adds that Google’s data retention policies “all seem very arbitrary to me”.

“The public have a right to fear the use of their data like this. Even though it is not identifiable to the person, it is still private and companies should respect this.

“There seems to be a situation of one thing being said to the public and something totally opposite given to others,” Dixon says.

Google argues, however, that the change it has brought in will provide “additional improvement in privacy” and that its concern now surrounds “the potential loss of security, quality and innovation that may result from having less data”.

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