Google Testifies About Privacy in WashingtonBy: Chris Crum - June 18, 2009
Today a joint hearing on online advertising between two subcommittees of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is being held. Google’s Deputy General Counsel Nicole Wong is giving a testimony about advertising products and the company’s commitment to protecting user privacy.
There have been a lot of privacy concerns regarding Google’s Interest-based advertising, which was announced earlier this year. Essentially, this is where Google serves ads based on users’ browsing history. The company does have a video available about privacy in relation to this.
In her testimony, which is available in its entirety in this PDF document, Wong discusses three main topics. These are:
– Google’s main advertising products and the benefits Google believes online advertising brings to advertisers, online publishers, and individual Internet users
– Google’s approach to privacy, specific steps that the company takes to protect users’ privacy, and the release of interest-based advertising
– Ideas and recommendations for how to better protect Internet users’ privacy with respect to advertising, as well as more generally
In the first part, Wong discusses the benefits of AdWords, AdSense for search, AdSense for Content, the Google Content Network, DoubleClick, etc. "In our experience, users value the advertisements that we deliver along with search results and other web content because the ads help connect them to the information, products, and services they’re looking for," she says.
With regards to privacy, Wong says the following three fundamentals have to be "at the bedrock of" privacy products and practices:
Wong also notes that innovation is "a critical part" of Google’s approach to privacy. "To best innovate in privacy, we welcome the feedback of privacy advocates, government experts, our users, and other stakeholders," she says. "This feedback, and our own internal discussions about how to protect privacy, has led to several privacy innovations, including our development of new privacy tools for new products and our decision last year to anonymize our server logs after nine months for IP addresses and 18 months for cookies."