Friday, November 20, 2009

Swiss Data Protection Authority Sues Google

"Swiss officials said Friday that they had sued Google to try to require it to tighten privacy safeguards on its Street View online service. It is the latest of a series of European objections to the company’s handling of personal information.

The Swiss data protection authority said it had filed a complaint with the Federal Administrative Court after Google balked at its demand for additional measures to make obscure the images of people who appear in Street View, particularly in areas around hospitals, schools and prisons.

Street View provides ground-level panoramas of streets across the United States, Europe and other regions, searchable via Google’s mapping service. Google compiles the scenes with camera-equipped cars."

"Google said it had met with the data protection commissioner, Hanspeter Thür, before the introduction of the Swiss version of Street View and received “the green light to launch the product” in August. After the authorities raised objections, Google said it had offered other protective measures, but said the commissioner rejected them as inadequate."

New York Times - Swiss Say Google’s Street View Is Too Revealing

Monday, November 9, 2009

Unified Google Control Panel Said To Increase Privacy Control

"In conjunction with the 31st International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, which occurred this week in Madrid, Spain, both Google and Microsoft took steps to express their respective commitment to privacy.

Microsoft's announcement took the form of a policy paper that said the company's established privacy principles would apply to cloud computing and called for regulatory harmony around the globe.

Google introduced Google Dashboard, a Web page that provides a summary of the information Google users have stored online and a set of links for modifying data storage settings.

"In an effort to provide you with greater transparency and control over [your] own data, we've built the Google Dashboard," a Google blog post explains. "Designed to be simple and useful, the Dashboard summarizes data for each product that you use (when signed in to your account) and provides you direct links to control your personal settings."

The Dashboard provides data details for over 20 Google services, including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Web History, Orkut, YouTube, Picasa, Talk, Reader, Alerts, Latitude, Profiles, and Voice, among others. "

Information Week - Google Dashboard Enhances Privacy Control

Monday, November 2, 2009

Google Latitude Location-Sharing Service: Gift To Stalkers?

"Google's new Latitude location-sharing service "could be a gift to stalkers, prying employers, jealous partners, and obsessive friends," Privacy International warned Thursday.

Google introduced Latitude on Wednesday. It's a new Google Maps feature that lets users share location data with friends, using either a mobile phone or Google Gears-equipped computer."

"To dispel anticipated privacy concerns, Vic Gundotra, VP of engineering on Google's mobile team, tried to reassure potential Latitude users that Google designed the service so that users are in control. "Fun aside, we recognize the sensitivity of location data, so we've built fine-grained privacy controls right into the application," he said. "Everything about Latitude is opt-in. You not only control exactly who gets to see your location, but you also decide the location that they see."

Nonetheless, Privacy International said it had identified "a major security flaw in Google's global phone tracking system.""

"Privacy International concedes that Google had made some effort to address privacy concerns. But it considers these safeguards useless "if Latitude could be enabled by a second party without a user's knowledge or consent."

As the organization puts it, the "danger arises when a second party can gain physical access to a user's phone and enable Latitude without the owner's knowledge.""

Information Week - Google Latitude Spurs Privacy Backlash