By Nate Anderson | Published: June 11, 2007 – 05:51AM CT
Only Google earned the dismal “black” color bar from the group, which has just issued a report on Internet privacy that took six months to assemble (see the rankings [PDF]). The current report is preliminary; final results will be released in September.
The report rated top Internet companies on privacy issues and distilled the various results into a single color bar. Microsoft was two ranks up from Google, earning a curry-colored “serious lapses” rating. Amazon scored one level higher with its yellow “notable lapses” rank, and eBay did even better, earning a coveted blue bar. No company earned a top mark, however.
In singling out Google, Privacy International said that it “witnessed an attitude to privacy within Google that at its most blatant is hostile, and at its most benign is ambivalent.” This stands in contrast to Microsoft, which several years ago would have earned the worst spot on the list. But “in more recent times the organization appears to have adopted a less antagonistic attitude to privacy, and has at least structurally adjusted to the challenge of creating a privacy-friendly environment,” says the report.
Google is taken to task for the usual issues: providing no way for users to expunge data, maintaining search logs that could contain personally-identifiable terms, tracking Google Toolbar users on the web, etc. But it’s not just Google’s policies that give Privacy International concern; the group worries especially about these policies being implemented by a company as large as Google. The report’s authors admit that Google’s low ranking is in part “due to Google’s market dominance and the sheer size of its user base.”
People are suspicious of massive corporations, it appears, no matter how non-evil they think they are.