Risk
1/31/2012
04:20 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Google Defends Privacy Policy Consolidation

Google sends letter to congressional representatives to clarify pending privacy policy revisions.

Responding to concerns expressed by members of Congress about its forthcoming privacy policy consolidation, Google on on Monday sent a 13-page letter to eight members of the House of Representatives.

Pablo Chavez, Google's director of public policy, characterized the letter in a blog post as an attempt to clear up confusion about what the company is trying to do by combining more than 60 separate privacy policies into a single policy and similarly unifying multiple terms of service documents.

When Google last week announced its intent to clean up its privacy policies on March 1, Google privacy director for products and engineering Alma Whitten explained that the company "may combine information you've provided from one service with information from other services." This will allow service personalization in one Google service to be informed by data from a different Google service, and hopefully provide a better user experience across products.

As an example, Google in its letter notes that its current privacy policies would not allow it to recommend cooking videos on YouTube to a signed-in user who had previously been searching for cooking recipes.

[ Google's service policies don't please everyone. Read Google+ Name Policy Leaves Users Unsatisfied. ]

Harmless though that may sound, Google's plan has elicited concern from government officials, in part because Google is under the microscope at the moment. Regulators in the U.S. and Europe are presently investigating whether the company is conducting its search business in an anti-competitive manner. Google has also invited such scrutiny through the introduction of a search feature called Search plus Your World, which mixes Google+ posts and images in Google search results, to the potential detriment of competitors like Facebook and Twitter.

Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), among others, issued a statement last week questioning how much control Google users have over their personal information and asserting that users must be able to decide whether they want their information shared across Google services.

Google's letter assures lawmakers that its commitment to protecting the privacy of its users has not changed and that the upcoming changes will lead to a better experience for users. At the same time, the letter confirms that users will not be able to opt-out of the forthcoming change.

"If people continue to use Google services after March 1, they'll be doing so under the updated privacy policy," the letter states in response to a question about the possibility of opting out. "The use of a primary privacy policy that covers many products and enables the sharing of data between them is an industry standard approach adopted by companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Apple."

But the letter goes on to point out that more than 30 Google services, such as Google Search and YouTube, can be used without signing in to a Google Account, thereby precluding the collection of personal data beyond the user's IP address.

It also points out some of the tools Google provides to help users control how their personal information is stored and used, like Google's Dashboard and Ad Preferences Manager, the privacy features supported in Chrome and Gmail, and the company's Data Liberation service, which provides a way to export most Google data.

How can companies find and fix vulnerabilities before they lead to a breach? Better yet, how can software developers identify flaws in their applications before the new software is ever deployed? In this report, Eliminating Vulnerabilities In Enterprise Software, Dark Reading offers a look at some tips and tricks for software development and vulnerability assessment. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-5211
Published: 2015-01-27
Stack-based buffer overflow in the Attachmate Reflection FTP Client before 14.1.433 allows remote FTP servers to execute arbitrary code via a large PWD response.

CVE-2014-8154
Published: 2015-01-27
The Gst.MapInfo function in Vala 0.26.0 and 0.26.1 uses an incorrect buffer length declaration for the Gstreamer bindings, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via unspecified vectors, which trigger a heap-based buffer overf...

CVE-2014-9197
Published: 2015-01-27
The Schneider Electric ETG3000 FactoryCast HMI Gateway with firmware before 1.60 IR 04 stores rde.jar under the web root with insufficient access control, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive setup and configuration information via a direct request.

CVE-2014-9198
Published: 2015-01-27
The FTP server on the Schneider Electric ETG3000 FactoryCast HMI Gateway with firmware through 1.60 IR 04 has hardcoded credentials, which makes it easier for remote attackers to obtain access via an FTP session.

CVE-2014-9646
Published: 2015-01-27
Unquoted Windows search path vulnerability in the GoogleChromeDistribution::DoPostUninstallOperations function in installer/util/google_chrome_distribution.cc in the uninstall-survey feature in Google Chrome before 40.0.2214.91 allows local users to gain privileges via a Trojan horse program in the ...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
If you’re a security professional, you’ve probably been asked many questions about the December attack on Sony. On Jan. 21 at 1pm eastern, you can join a special, one-hour Dark Reading Radio discussion devoted to the Sony hack and the issues that may arise from it.