Campaigners call for Google privacy policy link

A conglomerate of privacy groups has called for the search giant to link to its privacy policy from its homepage
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

A conglomerate of privacy groups has called for Google to link to its privacy policy from its homepage, claiming not to do so contravenes Californian law.

The groups include the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the World Privacy Forum, Consumer Action, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumer Federation of California and ACLU of Northern California.

The coalition claimed Google was not compliant with the California Online Privacy Protection Act, alleging that the search giant had not posted a privacy link "conspicuously".

"California law requires the operator of a commercial website to 'conspicuously post its privacy policy on its website'," wrote the coalition in an open letter to Google chief executive Eric Schmidt. "The straightforward reading of that law is that Google must place the word 'privacy' on the Google.com web page linked to its privacy policy. Moreover, just about every major company that operates a website places a link to its privacy policy on its homepage."

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, DC, said: "This is not rocket science. And the word 'privacy' is not got going to take up a lot of space on the Google homepage."

On Wednesday, Google said it had no plans to include a link to its privacy policy on its homepage, and declined to comment on the allegations that it had contravened Californian law.

"We share the view that privacy information should be easy to find, and we believe our privacy policy is readily accessible to our users," stated Google. "Just as importantly, privacy information should be easy to understand. That's why, in addition to offering a Privacy Center with our privacy policy and other important information, we also created a YouTube privacy channel with videos explaining our practices and products; ran an ad campaign to draw consumers to our privacy information; posted several blogs that explain our privacy practices in detail; and posted detailed frequently-asked-questions to help consumers understand the complex aspects of privacy."

Google argued that having a link to a privacy policy may not be the best method to convey privacy information to consumers.

"Privacy policies can be complex and not consumer friendly," stated Google. "To truly help consumers understand privacy, our goal is to provide accessible and useful information."

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