Google defends privacy policy against MP’s claims

Google’s global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer has called criticism of the company’s privacy policy by Conservative MP David Davis in last weekend’s Sunday Times an “extraordinary” and “vitriolic” attack.


Fleischer was responding to Davis’s article, which claimed Google has a “cavalier approach” to EU legislation and warned against the Conservative’s proposal to transfer public health data to the search giant, saying that the MP’s column was based on fiction.

Responding on the official Google blog to the allegation that Google is “hostile to privacy” and ignores EU laws, especially in regard to Street View, Fleischer said, “We were the first company in our industry to anonymise information when people conduct searches. We took the US government to court when we were asked to hand over large amounts of data to them.

“For a company that supposedly ignores European laws, we did not launch Google Street View in the UK until we had the green light from the Information Commissioner,” he added.

Likewise, in reaction to Davis’s claim that Google exploits its customers’ private data for commercial ends, Fleischer said, “Google makes the vast majority of its revenue by providing users with free services and serving ads targeted to what the user has searched for or has read. This does not involve selling user data or exposing it in any way.”

He ends by saying that criticism from leading public figures such as Davis without giving Google the right to reply will only fuel suspicion of the company.

“We’re proud of our track record of protecting user privacy. We work hard to make sure our users understand what data we collect and how we use it, because we are committed to transparency and user choice,” said Fleischer. “The important work of education is made more difficult by polemicists who abuse the truth. We are happy to debate our privacy record or policies anytime, but we’d rather that debate was based on fact not fiction.”

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