There was plenty of privacy news both in the EU and the US this past week. As has been the case for some time now, Facebook and Google were at the center of attention. Google was fined a small amount of money, but the implication was significant for “deliberately impeding and delaying” an FCC investigation, and Facebook was in The New York Times, with a positive privacy article about how they are giving users more control over their data. The Wall Street Journal also had a great Data Transparency Weekend hackathon, which we attended. EU publications continued the running debate about whether the impending Cookie Law will hurt or help the internet. The Times of India entered into the privacy debate with an article about the growing power of data aggregators.
Google Is Faulted for Impeding U.S. Inquiry on Data Collection – NYT – When Google first revealed in 2010 that cars it was using to map streets were also sweeping up sensitive personal information from wireless home networks, it called the data collection a mistake. On Saturday, federal regulators charged that Google had “deliberately impeded and delayed” an investigation into the data collection and ordered a $25,000 fine on the search giant.
Facebook Offers More Disclosure to Users – NYT – Facebook, seeking to address concerns about the personal information it collects on its users, said Thursday that it would provide any user with more about the data it tracks and stores.
Making Do Not Track a Reality – ACLU – The ACLU has stated concern again and again about the new model of internet advertising which relies heavily on tracking users as they move from website to website and creates a detailed profile about their viewing habits. Our suggested solution has been a Do Not Track (DNT) mechanism, one that would allow users to opt out and convey that they don’t want to be tracked. But what does it mean not to track someone online?A month to go on Cookie Law: Will Google Analytics get a free pass? – The Register – Slippery ICO can't be pinned in privacy mud-wrestle Protect privacy – The Times of India – As consumers open up to digital products, their personal data is being valued more and more as an asset. Facebook's looming $100 billion valuation is based on a presumption of having personal information on millions of users, which can be used to target advertising and content towards them. And Google is moving to collect similar information. Globally, the power of data aggregators is raising serious concerns around consumer privacy and protection. India, however, has neither the protections needed to secure the consumer, nor - going by a recent statement on the subject by a Union minister - perhaps even the will to correct the situation.