Google slammed in privacy report…

The blogosphere is going full tilt on a privacy report that says that Google is worst in its approach to privacy.

Danny Sullivan has the best response I see. I was hoping this report was more factual than it looks cause we need to have a real conversation about privacy. If you read the privacy report you should read Danny’s blow-by-blow response to it.

That said, Google’s PR is really stinky. Google isn’t paying attention to what normal people think of it anymore and it’s getting a bad reputation because of that. I heard it slammed over and over again for street-level views on Google Maps and no one from Google responded in most of the mainstream talk shows I heard talking about it. They should have a full-court “feel good” initiative where they have normal everyday citizens come in and meet the engineers, and look at the privacy issues.

Google’s PR is focused on the wrong things and isn’t warm and fuzzy and with big companies who are taking over our online data they need to have a warm and fuzzy feel.

Who runs Google PR? Why isn’t he or she blogging? Frank Shaw, the guy who runs PR for much of Microsoft at Waggener Edstrom is blogging and shows up to lots of events so we know who to call, or who to link to and wait for an answer. The fact that I don’t even know who to link to on this post demonstrates that Google PR is being out hustled by its competitors. This report demonstrates that in a big way.

Bad PR is a predictor of government action. Everyday Americans are getting very nervous about Google. They aren’t getting good messages from Google. No transparency. Tons of secrecy. No warm and fuzzy meetings with Google about privacy. No one responding to talk radio, which, if it didn’t have Paris Hilton to pull talk show hosts off of the Google story was getting seriously slammed.

First thing that Google should do? Put up a damn YouTube video! Search “Google Privacy Policy” on YouTube and do you find anyone from Google talking about its privacy policy? Why not? (Not that Microsoft is any better, but Google should be out front and leading here).

UPDATE: I actually did find a video from Google’s Rajen Sheth talking about its privacy policy (he’s responsible for the development and management of enterprise products at Google).

Here’s Microsoft’s privacy center and Google’s privacy center pages (first results for “Microsoft Privacy Policy” and “Google Privacy Policy” on Google).

UPDATE 2: Google’s own blog search engine demonstrates that Google is losing the PR war on this one. Danny Sullivan’s voice is nearly alone out there in defending Google.

UPDATE 3: to see just how badly Google is doing on blogs tonight, let’s look at the latest posts from just the past hour’s results:

  • Google rated bottom for privacy.
  • Shelley Powers: “What’s particularly scary, and I think the report mentions this, is that Google can’t understand why we’re concerned.”
  • BungaTech: “So, what does the company that promises to “never be evil” have to say for themselves? Not a whole lot: Nicole Wong, Google’s general counsel explains that the company stands behind its users and is sticking to their aggressive privacy strategy.”
  • Tainted Kernel: In terms of privacy … Google fails.
  • InfoWorld:Google executives were not immediately available to comment on the report’s findings.”
  • Tess McBride: “Is somebody watching me? It’s probably Google… .”
  • Scott Cleland: “Why Privacy is a competitive issue in FTC’s Google-DoubleClick merger review.”

What do you think?

Oh, and how should corporations fight the perceptions that come out in text? Go into video IMMEDIATELY! Get conversational. Take open public questions and answer them in chat or in Twitter or in Facebook or in blog comments or in YouTube comments (best yet, all the above). Appoint a team to answer questions 24 hours a day until the story dies down (and even then make sure you watch blog search engines to see if they start getting talked about again). Make sure every blogger knows where you’re hanging out and where to link for the best information.

Can you tell I’m hanging out with a bunch of PR professionals right now? ;-)

68 thoughts on “Google slammed in privacy report…

  1. Even more astonishing is that slashdot readers are by-and-large siding with MS against Google regarding Google’s demands regarding Vista’s desktop search.

    Times, the are a-changin’.

  2. Even more astonishing is that slashdot readers are by-and-large siding with MS against Google regarding Google’s demands regarding Vista’s desktop search.

    Times, the are a-changin’.

  3. I’ll roll my comments from Matt’s blog here – and expand on a few others.

    Just because Google stands to collect the most user information based on its size and reach doesn’t make it an automatic that it is the biggest threat to Net privacy. Aside from the flaws brought up by Danny Sullivan and Matt Cutts with the PI report, I wonder if it is purely coincidental that the timing of this damning report falls on the heels of a DoubleClick deal awaiting approval.

    Should we not be looking at things such as what the company is doing in the way of privacy safeguards for its users, and the overall culture of sensitivity towards privacy, the kind of company they keep (ie. like-mindedness and suitability of partners and affiliates), regardless of whether the company is big or small? I also wonder whether companies like this one will be covered in their September report?

    Why doesn’t Google participate or engage in online discussion? The optics of not participating does lend itself to this view of Google being this arrogant and unassailable Internet despot. But I guess that’s what also makes vibrant online discussions so fascinating – there is that self-regulating aspect of online discussion that allows us to learn from the differing opinions, views and perspectives with or without Google’s or company x’s participation.

    Part of this is also related to the fact that we have a tacit allegiance to Google because their tools make all our lives easier, and as such we might be prepared to assume the position of evangelist or defender if unfair online mudslinging warranted it.

    I’m of the view that an opinion from the inside is certainly welcomed in such debate, and is definitely encouraged when its the kind of negative online attention packing persuasion and reach.

  4. I’ll roll my comments from Matt’s blog here – and expand on a few others.

    Just because Google stands to collect the most user information based on its size and reach doesn’t make it an automatic that it is the biggest threat to Net privacy. Aside from the flaws brought up by Danny Sullivan and Matt Cutts with the PI report, I wonder if it is purely coincidental that the timing of this damning report falls on the heels of a DoubleClick deal awaiting approval.

    Should we not be looking at things such as what the company is doing in the way of privacy safeguards for its users, and the overall culture of sensitivity towards privacy, the kind of company they keep (ie. like-mindedness and suitability of partners and affiliates), regardless of whether the company is big or small? I also wonder whether companies like this one will be covered in their September report?

    Why doesn’t Google participate or engage in online discussion? The optics of not participating does lend itself to this view of Google being this arrogant and unassailable Internet despot. But I guess that’s what also makes vibrant online discussions so fascinating – there is that self-regulating aspect of online discussion that allows us to learn from the differing opinions, views and perspectives with or without Google’s or company x’s participation.

    Part of this is also related to the fact that we have a tacit allegiance to Google because their tools make all our lives easier, and as such we might be prepared to assume the position of evangelist or defender if unfair online mudslinging warranted it.

    I’m of the view that an opinion from the inside is certainly welcomed in such debate, and is definitely encouraged when its the kind of negative online attention packing persuasion and reach.

  5. @15 224 stories? Wow!!! Well that certainly proves this is a HUGE issue. 224! But wait! A quick check of google news shows….1,99$ stories on the final episode of the Sopranos. 1,995 vs 224. So, what do NORMAL PEOPLE care more about? I know it’s close but is seems the final episode of the Soprano’s is more top of mind for NORMAL PEOPLE. And then there is Bush Russia relations, which yields 5,692 stories. Again, close, but seems relations with Russia are more important than Google privacy, if we are going mainly on news stories. Too broad you say? Okay, let’s do a “tech” topic. Apple iPhone? 5,396 stories. Seems more NORMAL people care about the iPhone than Google privacy

    Call me when the Google privacy issue reaches the coverage level of the final episode of the Sopranos.

    And those 224 stories? the majority seem to be coming from tech trade sources, with other news outlets simply picking up those stories. Call me when is shows up on Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dateline NBC, or 20/20. Then you will have somewhat of a point. Scoble you know how this is. You’ve ranted about it in the past. More NORMAL people care about Paris Hilton being in jail than they do about what Google may or may not be doing.

    Yes, it is an important issue. But have some perspective and stop with the hyperbole. Internet geeks and IT pros care about it…. but not NORMAL people.

  6. @15 224 stories? Wow!!! Well that certainly proves this is a HUGE issue. 224! But wait! A quick check of google news shows….1,99$ stories on the final episode of the Sopranos. 1,995 vs 224. So, what do NORMAL PEOPLE care more about? I know it’s close but is seems the final episode of the Soprano’s is more top of mind for NORMAL PEOPLE. And then there is Bush Russia relations, which yields 5,692 stories. Again, close, but seems relations with Russia are more important than Google privacy, if we are going mainly on news stories. Too broad you say? Okay, let’s do a “tech” topic. Apple iPhone? 5,396 stories. Seems more NORMAL people care about the iPhone than Google privacy

    Call me when the Google privacy issue reaches the coverage level of the final episode of the Sopranos.

    And those 224 stories? the majority seem to be coming from tech trade sources, with other news outlets simply picking up those stories. Call me when is shows up on Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dateline NBC, or 20/20. Then you will have somewhat of a point. Scoble you know how this is. You’ve ranted about it in the past. More NORMAL people care about Paris Hilton being in jail than they do about what Google may or may not be doing.

    Yes, it is an important issue. But have some perspective and stop with the hyperbole. Internet geeks and IT pros care about it…. but not NORMAL people.

  7. After closing down Google News on my Blackberry 8800 a dialog box came up stating that Google wanted access to my phone records, would I allow it? Um, no. So I clicked No and a java exception popped up on the screen, something to do with a blackberry security package.

    I hope that means by request to not allow Google to access my phone records was followed. Maybe BB doesn’t test their security for people saying no?

    And what does Google do with my phone records anyway?

  8. After closing down Google News on my Blackberry 8800 a dialog box came up stating that Google wanted access to my phone records, would I allow it? Um, no. So I clicked No and a java exception popped up on the screen, something to do with a blackberry security package.

    I hope that means by request to not allow Google to access my phone records was followed. Maybe BB doesn’t test their security for people saying no?

    And what does Google do with my phone records anyway?

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