Sunday, October 31, 2010

Google not serious about privacy says senator

A Labor senator has likened Google's approach to privacy laws as similar to the exploitation of sweatshop workers across Asia. 
Google representatives on Friday fronted the Senate Communications References Committee, which is examining whether Australians are given adequate protections when they go online.

Spokesman Iarla Flynn was explaining to senators that the internet giant abides by the privacy laws of each particular country, but it failed to satisfy Labor's Doug Cameron.

"I was a bit perplexed by your response that you're bound by the laws in the country that you operate,'' he said.

"People at Nike have been using that for years to exploit workers.

"It seems to me a standard corporate response - why can't Google establish a best practice approach on this and apply it across all of its operations?''

Mr Flynn said that was what Google was doing, and rejected the Nike comparison fully.

"We've very conscious of the different frameworks around the world, we're designing our privacy policy ... we try and set that as global best practice,'' he said.

Google was quizzed about its controversial Street View application, which has been subject to legal scrutiny in many countries over the collection of private information.

Mr Flynn confirmed wireless internet data collected from Australian homes, which sparked privacy concerns here, had not been deleted yet.

While Street View had been scrapped for the time being, Google hopes to one day get its camera cars back in operation.

"We would like to do that, but we have no plans to do that at the moment,'' Mr Flynn said.

Senators from both sides expressed reservations with Google's ability to retain personal information, after Mr Flynn revealed that all gmails are digitally "read''.

The committee was told Google actively fought to maintain the trust of its users, and was keenly aware that would only be earned by adequately protecting their privacy.

The committee will hear from government representatives from the Attorney-General and Communications departments later on Friday.

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