Why does Google trap user data?

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has embarked on a public relations campaign to portray the company he leads as a champion for the rights of its users. Schmidt’s exhortations on the importance of user data “portability,
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor
Google CEO Eric Schmidt has embarked on a PR campaign to portray the company he leads as a champion for the rights of its users. Schmidt’s exhortations on the importance of user data “portability,” however, are not reflected within Google’s operating principles.

Schmidt at the Web 2.0 Summit last week, as reported by CNET:

Schmidt said he would like users to be able to export their search histories between different search engines. "We want to give you essentially the equivalent of number portability," he said.

Google respects the rights of its users foremost, Schmidt said. "As long as we don't do something against their interests, we should be fine," he said. "The more that we can, for example, let people move their data around...and not trap it," the better.

If Schmidt is keen on letting “people move their data around,” why doesn’t he guarantee that Google users can move their data out of Google systems?

Schmidt’s appearance at the Web 2.0 Summit was followed by Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Search and User Products Experience, as I discuss in “Google loves speed? Not with user privacy.”

In explaining why “slow and steady doesn't win the race" in a Web 2.0 world, Mayer said: “If you have each transaction take less time, you have expert users more satisfied. You want lots of small and fast interactions if speed is important.”

Mayer cited Google’s Gmail application as having benefited from speed tweaks. I point out, however, that the GMail privacy policy is oblivious to “speed” when GMail users wish to delete messages or entire accounts from the Google systems.

In fact, Google does not make any assurances about any of its users being able to access any of their own data, correct it and/or delete it from Google systems.

Google GMail privacy policy:

Residual copies of deleted messages and accounts may take up to 60 days to be deleted from our active servers and may remain in our offline backup systems.

Google umbrella privacy policy:

Accessing and updating personal information

When you use Google services, we make good faith efforts to provide you with access to your personal information and either to correct this data if it is inaccurate or to delete such data at your request if it is not otherwise required to be retained by law or for legitimate business purposes. We ask individual users to identify themselves and the information requested to be accessed, corrected or removed before processing such requests, and we may decline to process requests that are unreasonably repetitive or systematic, require disproportionate technical effort, jeopardize the privacy of others, or would be extremely impractical (for instance, requests concerning information residing on backup tapes), or for which access is not otherwise required. In any case where we provide information access and correction, we perform this service free of charge, except if doing so would require a disproportionate effort.

By codifying Google Speak within Google privacy policies, Google is being disingenuous with its users and putting Google “business purposes” above the privacy expectations and rights of its users.

Isn’t it time Google is called to task for its operating hypocrisies?

SEE: "Google: The Anti-Microsoft," "Google’s fatal flaw,"
"Is Google's 'free' cloud an illusion?"

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