Google in cat fight with British MP

Tue 28 July 2009 11:26, Bas van den Beld

Google in cat fight with British MP

Yesterday British MP David Davis decided to bash Google in a column he wrote for The Times. The title "I wouldn’t trust Google with my personal info" was the setup for a column in which he left no doubt on how he believes Google is handling privacy issues.

The same day Google responded with a long post on its European Public Policy Blog, where they look at government, policy and politics in Europe. Google said they were "surprised and disappointed" to read the column in the Times newspaper. They believe Davis' arguments are "based on something of a straw man". The 'conversation' turned in somewhat of a cat fight.

Davis' column was focussed on Google Health. Earlier this month representatives of the Conservative Party said they were planning to transfer people’s health data to Google. "My heart sank" says Davis in his column. "The policy described was so naive I could only hope that it was an unapproved kite-flying exercise by a young researcher in Conservative HQ."

David_davis_mp
Davis believes one should be carefull about giving away data to any company, but is very clear about Google: "Google is the last company I would trust with data belonging to me. In the words of human rights watchdog Privacy International, Google has “a history of ignoring privacy concerns. Every corporate announcement has some new practice involving surveillance”. It gave Google the lowest possible assessment rating: “hostile to privacy”. It was the only company of the 20 assessed to get this rating. It also said Google was leading a “race to the bottom” among internet firms, many of which did little to protect their users."

Davis also takes a shot at Streetview, saying Google "drove its high- handed approach to the intrusion on people’s privacy with Streetview."

Google decided to hit back at Davis immediately. In their blogpost they point out that Google so far has not got any immediate plans to bring Google Health to other countries than the US. They then counter the 'allegations' made by Davis.

They say that they were "the first company in our industry to anonymise information when people conduct searches" and they are respecting user privacy. "We automatically blur faces and vehicle number plates, and we make it easy for people with concerns to have their homes removed from Street View if they wish."

Peter Fleischer, Google's Global Privacy Counsel, ends his post by saying: "We're proud of our track record of protecting user privacy. We work hard to make sure our users understand what data we collect and how we use it, because we are committed to transparency and user choice. The important work of education is made more difficult by polemicists who abuse the truth. We are happy to debate our privacy record or policies anytime, but we'd rather that debate was based on fact not fiction."

There are a couple of remarkable elements to this discussion. Off course Google is subject of discussion all the time when it comes to privacy issues, but why Davis decided to take up the glove against Google is not clear. As Google said, Google Health is not available in the UK. The 'anger' in both the column and the responding blogpost though gives ground to believe there is more than meets the eye here.

Another remarkable thing is that if you look at the comments at the column on Times Online the responses are mostly 'in favour' of Google, or should I say 'against the government'...


  • Comments (7)
  • News
  • Tell-a-cowboy

Comments (7)

 

    • Dudibob

    I think people are more in favour of Google as Google have never left a hard drive with a list of people's personal details on a bus!

    MPs in the UK exempt themselves from the majority of the Government databases that they make up. For example, MPs children do not have to be recorded on the Child database (where all children are put on one giant database) which will probably be left on a train somewhere.

    Personally I trust Google more than the British Government and that's bad

    [/rant]

    Di 28 jul 2009, 12:47


  • There is an enormous amount of irony here. A member of the British government complaining about lack of privacy concerns in an internet company. This is the same government that is spying on its own citizens with hundreds of thousands of CCTV cameras, compiling huge unsecured databases filled with private information of all UK citizens, increasingly invasive ID demands to 'combat terrorism' that effectively wipe out privacy for all UK residents, and a total lack of internal responsibility when things inevitably go wrong.

    Shame on you, Mr Davis. Fix your own problems before you dare open your mouth at Google.

    Do 30 jul 2009, 10:10


    • Janik

    "A member of the British government complaining about lack of privacy concerns in an internet company. This is the same government that is spying on its own citizens with hundreds of thousands of CCTV cameras, compiling huge unsecured databases filled with private information of all UK citizens, increasingly invasive ID demands to 'combat terrorism' that effectively wipe out privacy for all UK residents, and a total lack of internal responsibility when things inevitably go wrong.

    Shame on you, Mr Davis. Fix your own problems before you dare open your mouth at Google."

    Barry, there is only one problem with all of that, though it's a fairly major one that renders your comment completely irrelevant.

    David Davies is not a member of the UK government. He is a member of the opposition Conservative Party.

    You ought to do some basic research before, to use your own phrase, daring to open your mouth.

    Ma 17 aug 2009, 15:54


  • @Janik - I knew that, I currently reside in the UK and I am well-aware of the current Labour government and it's Tory opposition.

    That does not render my comment 'completely irrelevant'. A member of the conservative opposition would do well to first points his arrows at the Labour government's horrible privacy track-record before taking aim at Google.

    Ma 17 aug 2009, 15:58


    • Janik

    "A member of the conservative opposition would do well to first points his arrows at the Labour government's horrible privacy track-record before taking aim at Google."

    He has. Repeatedly. And famously.
    He is publically oppossed to CCTV culture, ID cards, he resigned his seat and fought a by-election over his opposition the extension of detention without trial on terrorist charges. His record on the current govenrments relentless attacks on civil liberties is without blemish. It's his pet subject, you could say.
    To attack Davies for failing to do this is to suggest a suprising degree of ignorance about the man for a UK resident. But then, if you don't know from his name and mentions in this article of the Conservatives, that he was a Conservative MP, then I suppose it isn't a suprise that you aren't aware of his record and that the things your are demanding he does are exactly what he has already been doing.

    That consistent record is, presumably, why he feels he has earned the right to be critical of other institutions that he believes will also attack civil liberties. It fits in with his main poltical theme (one, by the sounds of it, that you would support if you knew more about his work).


    So, as you can see, you comments, despite your desperate backtracking, remain completely irrelevant.

    Ma 17 aug 2009, 17:14


    • Janik

    A quick search using a well-known engine throws up two little pieces of background reading within seconds.

    http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/news-and-events/1-press-releases/20...
    http://www.opendemocracy.net/blog/ourkingdom-theme/rupert-read/2008/06/13/...
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/23/civilliberties.localgo...
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/feb/20/civil-liberties-laws-david-...

    Ma 17 aug 2009, 17:23


  • @Janik, hmm, well, indeed, I suppose I should have researched Mr Davis's track record a bit better before making my somewhat hasty remark. I'm passionate about digital rights, and I fear my passion provoked a hasty knee-jerk response without taking time from my busy schedule to perform thorough research. I'll try to take better care next time.

    You might want to take your defence of the man to a more relevant forum as well - such as the original Times website where his opinion piece is featured. Judging by the comments there it's apparent I'm far from the only one who's ill-informed of Mr. Davis's record on privacy and civil liberty issues.

    Ma 17 aug 2009, 17:26

Comment

  • HTML is not allowed. URLs are automatically clickable.
    * Email address is not shown



  • Google Nose
  • Flight Search
  • Flight Search
  • Ingress
  • Google Handwrite
  • Using Google search
  • IPv6 launch
  • Not going to miss the internet

Events

Last event

Bloggers

  • J-P De Clerck
    J-P De Clerck

    Profession: Customer-centric digi...

    Company: Conversionation

  • Sam Murray
    Sam Murray

    Profession: Senior Search Consultant

    Company: Verve Search

  • Susie Hood
    Susie Hood

    Profession: Head of Copywriting

    Company: Click Consult / SEO C...

  • Tom Bogaert
    Tom Bogaert

    Profession: Managing Partner

    Company: QueroMedia


Latest Videos

Border_top
Border_bottom

Columns

  • Lizette van der Laan
    Social Media Image

    Is it the real you, the witty you, the person who reads the most interesting articles, makes t...




Newsletter

Subscribe to SC Newsletter:


RSS Feed

Are you a bloggerFacebook


Search



© 2014 Searchcowboys.com - All Rights Reserved - All views and opinions expressed are those of the authors of Searchcowboys.

All trademarks, slogans, text or logo representation used or referred to in this website are the property of their respective owners. Sitemap