Cutts Reports Conflict Of Interest In Privacy/Advertising Study

Coauthor not too fond of Google

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Often, the source of a statement means everything.  It might, for example, be more newsworthy if Gordon Brown labeled Americans "silly" than if (or when) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called us all evil pigs.  And Matt Cutts would just like everyone to know that one source of a study on advertising isn’t exactly Google’s best friend.

This morning, a lot of headlines declared that at least two-thirds of Americans don’t want to be tracked by advertisers online, even for the sake of more relevant ads or discounts.  The articles got their figures from a new study. 

Matt Cutts

But Cutts wrote on his blog, "One of the study’s co-authors was Chris Jay Hoofnagle.  Hoofnagle has served as the Senior Counsel and Director of the West Coast Office of Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).  You haven’t heard of EPIC?  EPIC was the group that in 2004 argued that Gmail should be shut down: ‘In a letter sent to California Attorney General Bill Lockyer on Monday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center argued that Gmail must be shut down because it ‘represents an unprecedented invasion into the sanctity of private communications.’"

Cutts then added, "I can guess what you’re saying.  ‘That was five years ago.  People didn’t know then how useful Gmail was going to be.’  Okay, then did you know that EPIC lobbied the government to shut down Google Apps earlier this year?"

In light of this information, the fresh study doesn’t look quite so ominous for Google and the online advertising industry.

Cutts Reports Conflict Of Interest In Privacy/Advertising Study
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  • http://www.sitebyjames.com Guest

    I think what really scares people regarding privacy is completely valid.

    Name calling or making references to tin foil hats completely avoids the real issue.

    Google, whether people want to admit it or not… runs on Open Source. If I am wrong then please please correct me…

    The Google Security team recently unveiled a flaw in the Linux OS which effected practically everyone since 2001.

    Why should any consumer trust the security track record of Google if it sits on an entirely vulnerable OS?

    If everybody clustered together, and if Google is closed source about their privacy policy… Why should we trust them with anything?

    Google might have some pretty good engineers, but so does the rest of the world, and I would think along with military networks (which don’t always have a clean security record), and Google, that they would be a prime candidate for a data attack.

    Why should I think otherwise?

    Who cares if Google sells out and reveals my entire online history to a third party. What about the data which really matters? Like the collective non-aggregate information of most likely a large portion of the world.

    • http://www.sitebyjames.com Correction

      I said closed source about their privacy policy… I meant closed source regarding what security practices they actually implement… is it really Linux OS? What have they done to ensure that everything is absolutely private?

      And if I want to opt-out… I want assurance that all my information as whole is cleaned permanently. I don’t want to have to go to a judge…

      That’s not going to happen with Google… and that’s why I have simply stopped using them…

      • http://www.sitebyjames.com James

        I mean the government itself doesn’t exactly have a clean security record…

        “A government contractor handling sensitive health information for 867,000 U.S. service members and their families acknowledged yesterday that some of its employees sent unencrypted data”


        Now why should Google have all my information without my ability to remove it?

        Google is currently an irresponsible company. That is the way I see it… and until they are more than just a frivolous development company, that will not change anytime soon…

  • http://www.bc-media.co.uk BC Media

    Knowing that Gmail scans emails for marketing purposes makes the thought of letting them store all my documents and work very unappealing! This needs to be dealt with IMO before they become a danger to peoples privacy.

  • http://Mr-Ress.com Bob Ress

    “Why should any consumer trust the security track record of Google if it sits on an entirely vulnerable OS?”

    You mean as compared to Windows??

    No OS is completely secure, but open source vulnerabilities get fixed much faster, on average, than closed source.1

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