Google slips a privacy link on to its homepage – do you all feel more secure now?



The Google homepage has just seen its biggest overhaul since the scandalous favicon incident of ’08. Take a look, see how a new Privacy hyperlink has appeared next to the copyright symbol and date. Amazingly enough, it links you straight into the Google Privacy Center.

Although you wouldn’t know it to read Google’s official explanation, we actually have a bunch of whinging fannies to thank for this monumental design change. Last month a petition was sent to Google CEO Eric Schmidt signed by representatives from *deep breath* the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the World Privacy Forum, Consumer Action, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the Consumer Federation of California, requesting – nay – demanding that there be a Privacy link on the website’s homepage.

Clearly, users were at dire risk of having their privacy invaded, because Google’s Privacy policy was only accessible through the About page. Finding it required all of about three clicks or a quick Google search, and goddammit that was NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Apparently it violated a Californian law which says all sites have to have a Privacy link on their homepage. Well, it sort of does. The law also says it can be placed anywhere, just as long as a sensible person can find it. Quite clearly though, the people who got worried enough about this issue to make a petition have nowhere near enough mental capacity to figure their way through that level of complexity.

I’d also point out that if you’re unable to find your way through to the previous residence of the Google Privacy policy, then it’s extremely unlikely you’re ever actually going to read through or understand the several pages of explanations surrounding it anyway.

Perhaps I’m being unfair. These dedicated petitioners found a way of HELPING Google make its Privacy policy more clear and accessible and to adhere to an important state’s laws. Google even managed to comply without forcing more clutter on its deliberately sparse homepage. We really should send them some flowers or something.

But here’s where I start to see red: while some diligent do-gooders spend their time and effort trying to force Google to make its already visible Privacy policies even more visible, at the same time a US judge orders the company to hand over terabytes of its users’ personal data so that some media company can sift through it willy-nilly. Oh the irony.

Related posts: Privacy issues on Google Maps | Privacy issues on Friend Connect

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