Today is International Data Privacy Day, or Data Protection Day as it is known in Europe. Google, a company with great interest in the topic, has chosen this day to unveil its latest "Privacy Principles," five main guidelines it uses for all of its products and services. The principles themselves aren't anything new, but Google decided to concentrate its policy into the five principles listed to make it easier for users to understand how Google operates.
"We've always operated with these principles in mind. Now, we're just putting them in writing so you have a better understanding of how we think about these issues from a product perspective. Like our design and software guidelines, these privacy principles are designed to guide the decisions we make when we create new technologies," Alan Eustace, senior vice president, Engineering and Research, wrote.
Google's five Privacy Principles are:
"- Use information to provide our users with valuable products and services.
- Develop products that reflect strong privacy standards and practices.
- Make the collection of personal information transparent.
- Give users meaningful choices to protect their privacy.
- Be a responsible steward of the information we hold."
It's reassuring to know Google is taking the matter seriously enough and has a healthy approach to privacy but from the five principles alone, most people aren't going to know exactly what information Google collects or how it uses it. The company is the biggest thing online and knows more about ourselves that any other company, Facebook included, so the privacy issue is an understandably tense one, especially in recent years when more people are asking just how much Google does and what it does with it.
For its part, Google is trying to be as transparent as possible, it recently launched the Google Dashboard which offers info and quick access to all the privacy settings on most Google services. It's not perfect, but it's a lot more than what anyone else is doing. It also launched the Data Liberation Front which aims to make it easy to export all your data from any Google service. However, it has come under fire recently when CEO Eric Schmidt made some comments which didn't exactly reassure people that Google was doing its best to protect people's private data.