Google Wants Web Privacy Laws September 14, 2007Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in News, Social Media, YouTube.
Search site Google has called on governments and business to agree a basic set of global privacy rules. Without global standards the health of the internet was at risk, the firm’s privacy chief Peter Fleischer told a UN agency conference in Strasbourg.
With the rise of the net, vast amounts of personal data is now regularly shipped around the globe. That information often passes through countries with insufficient or no data protection laws. Many countries have no privacy regimes at all, and among those that do, many drew up laws in this area before the internet was in widespread use.
It may seem ironic to see Google calling for worldwide privacy rules. Google has previously come under fire about its own privacy policies. Because its stated mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible, Google has come under fire for the threat its services pose to privacy.
Google’s desire for international guidelines might in fact have something to do with its own privacy guidelines. Google is in the difficult position of having to enact different privacy standards according to local laws. International guidelines would help untangle the company’s snarl of privacy statements.
Fleischer said it was vital for the health of the Internet, the global economy and Google’s own business agenda to move beyond the current patchwork of conflicting privacy rules. He said every time a person uses a credit card their information may cross six or seven national boundaries.
He described a typical online shopping scenario involving a French consumer using a U.S. company’s online service. The U.S. firm might have data centers in multiple countries, perhaps Belgium and Ireland in the case of a French consumer. Customer service for the transaction might be handled out of India.
Fleischer called for countries to adopt principles similar to those agreed in the recently-concluded Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which limits personal information collection and data protection. However, E.U. privacy regulations are already more stringent than the APEC’s recommendations and are unlikely to level down to the APEC standards.