Google’s new privacy clause: what’s the story?

Last weekend Google took the decision to include privacy details on its homepage.

Why this weekend?

This time last year it was reported Google has the worst privacy policy of popular net firms. So why have they decided to provide a privacy policy on the previously sacrosanct homepage this week? Is it a belated attempt at compliance with privacy laws in California?

Well lets look at this in the context both of what has happened in the past week or so, and what people are talking about on the web – both top-down, and bottom-up.

Let’s start by tracking what people are saying via Twitter. Try searching for the term ‘privacy’ in Twist over the past month.

You will note a steep incline for use of the term on the 3rd of July. Why? Because that’s when a US court issued its demand that Google hand over Youtube users’ details in a court case brought by Viacom against the video-sharing service.

Little wonder then, that a few days later they’d also come out with a defence of Google Street View, to temper the privacy fears of us Eurotrash.

Meanwhile, over at the top-down area of webspace, the fleet street (2.0) blatherati have been up in arms over the thorny issue of online privacy ever since the 3rd, taking the issue well beyond the Youtube debacle in the process.

Catherine Bennett in The Guardian decried Amazon’s suggestions as a serious infraction of her privacy, Charlie Brooker (who, it has to be said is far funnier when coming up with names for new Gladiators) revisited a Phillip K Dick-esq distopian nightmare of surveillance, while Janet Street Porter took time out from rearing veal to give Youtube (and social networks, and the interweb more generally) both barrels.

Privacy is a hot topic right now, and not just because of alleged Nazi sex parties, or Google Street View allegedly coming to the UK.

Going back to the Twist graph mentioned above, you may note that during the period between the 8th and 14th of June, there was precious little mention of privacy across Twitter. How ironic then, that when you run a search across Google News between these dates, all you get back is press releases from firms affirming their privacy credentials.

If journalism is really being taken over by PR, those in PR really need to get their finger out and touch base with the zeitgeist…

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One Response to “Google’s new privacy clause: what’s the story?”

  1. albloggs Says:

    Wow! I just found out (reading your posting) that California did beat Dr.Schmidt in the end! I admired your creative command of semiotics, semantics and facts. Great style 🙂

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