Three weeks ago, data protection officials representing Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, and the UK wrote an open letter to Eric Schmidt, expressing concerns about Google Buzz and Google’s overall approach to privacy. Now, Google’s responded, but the search giant was very selective in terms of which points it addressed.
For example: The second paragraph of the original letter contained the words "concerned," "disturbed," "betrayed," and "failed." The opening lines of Google’s reply (which was written by Jane Horvath and Peter Fleischer, not Schmidt) stated, "Thank you for your letter . . . . We appreciate your invitation to us to reiterate our core commitments to privacy."
Horvath and Fleischer didn’t go on to add anything about new policies or extra safeguards, either, instead suggesting that Google’s current approach is fine.
Finally, depending on how you interpret it, the closing sentence might even have implied that the privacy authorities were wrong to make their concerns public. It began, "We are already in regular contact with all of your offices . . ."
It’s unlikely that this will go over well with Google’s critics. The original letter to Google didn’t make any overt threats, though (it just mentioned data protection and privacy laws in passing), so it’s possible nothing will come of the exchange.