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Google's 5 Privacy Principles

by Simon. Average Reading Time: about 2 minutes.

In honour [sic] of International Data Privacy Day today, 28th January 2010, Google has published their own guidlines on privacy.

The timing of this is quite intriguing following the recent hacking attack, supposedly orchestrated by the Chinese authorities, on Google, Yahoo, Adobe and some 20 other major international corporations; whilst there is also the ongoing concern from many quarters about Google is too dominant in many aspects of our online lives.

But less of the cynicism, the five principles are:

  • Use information to provide our users with valuable products and services.
    Focus on providing the best user experience is the first tenet of Google’s philosophy. When users share information with us, it allows us to build services and products that are valuable to them. We believe that focusing on the user fosters both the products and privacy-enhancing features that have fueled innovation and built a loyal audience of users online.
  • Develop products that reflect strong privacy standards and practices.
    Our ambition is to be at the leading edge of technology, including the development of tools that help users manage their personal information in a simple, accessible manner without detracting from a valuable user experience. We comply with privacy laws, and additionally work internally and with regulators and industry partners to develop and implement strong privacy standards.
  • Make the collection of personal information transparent.
    We strive to show users the information used to customize our services. Where appropriate, we aim to be transparent about the information we have about individual users and how we use that information to deliver our services.
  • Give users meaningful choices to protect their privacy.
    People have different privacy concerns and needs. To best serve the full range of our users, Google strives to offer them meaningful and fine-grained choices over the use of their personal information. We believe personal information should not be held hostage and we are committed to building products that let users export their personal information to other services. We don’t sell users’ personal information.
  • Be a responsible steward of the information we hold.
    We recognize our responsibility to protect the data that users entrust to us. We take security issues seriously and work together with a large community of users, developers and external security experts to make the Internet safer and more secure.

Whether these principles can be fully adhered to by Google is an important question, but they do serve to calm the fears of many about what they’ll do with our data. If nothing else, they do serve to highlight the need for data privacy to be taken seriously by anyone considering building web applications.

If you’re interested in more of Google’s privacy stances, they’ve got an entire portal dedicated to them.

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