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FTC Releases Google Privacy Audit, Blacks Out the Details

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the not-for-your-eyes dept.

Google 57

chicksdaddy writes "Google could tell you about its privacy practices except, well....they're private. That's the conclusion privacy advocates are drawing after the Federal Trade Commission took a black marker to an independent audit of the company's privacy practices before releasing it to the group EPIC in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Security Ledger is reporting that the FTC released a copy of a Price Waterhouse Coopers audit of Google that was mandated as part of a settlement with the FTC over complaints following a 2010 complaint by EPIC over privacy violations in Google Buzz, a now-defunct social networking experiment. However, the agency acceded to Google requests to redact descriptions of the search giant's internal procedures and the design of its privacy program."

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An excerpt (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555073)

Don't be XXXX.

Re:An excerpt (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#41555969)

If XXX is just code for sex, then what is Google into? Bestiality and S&M?

Failure to release the info means only one thing (5, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41555083)

We must assume the worse.. that Google's 'privacy practices' are hogwash. You have no privacy with Google. Let them prove otherwise.

Re:Failure to release the info means only one thin (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555107)

Obama's failure to disclose or nuclear attack plans means we must assume the wortlst,hat he's planning on nuking LA to impose Shari'a law.

No, sir, you're a fucking idiot.

Re:Failure to release the info means only one thin (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41555123)

Nice try. National security and corporate policy are slightly different things.

So, sir, back at ya...

Re:Failure to release the info means only one thin (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555245)

One is a huge, evil organization that is spying on you with massive server farms, and the other doesn't have nuclear weapons.

Re:Failure to release the info means only one thin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41558783)

Sorry to say, you miss the real difference here. "One is a huge, evil organization that is spying on you with massive server farms", the other has faceless, toothless Quangos to do your bidding.

Re:Failure to release the info means only one thin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555277)

Not so much these days.

Re:Failure to release the info means only one thin (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555519)

Don't worry about the guy who said you're an idiot. We know better. What you are is a cunt. Troll elsewhere, you miserable fucking cunt.

Re:Failure to release the info means only one thin (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555555)

Me so hony! Me love you long time!

Re:Failure to release the info means only one thin (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555589)

Yeah, that too.

Re:Failure to release the info means only one thin (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#41556009)

failure in the first sentence.

Why would we assume the worst? I don't even understand how that is supposed to be a compelling argument.

You have no privacy with anything - why should that be specific to google?

Oh right, please use the privacy-friendly search engine that uses bing instead, right? /facepalm

Re:Failure to release the info means only one thin (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41556031)

Because according to Google's Eric Schmidt "if you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." Google doesn't want us to know about it, so maybe be they shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

Re:Failure to release the info means only one thin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41558515)

+(Positive Infty) Insightful

Re:Failure to release the info means only one thin (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41557441)

Unchecked authority/power/influence (or even the illusion of impunity) will always be abused. That's a proven fact. It's only natural. You can confirm it with any experiment you want. Or you can check the results of the ones that have already been performed. So, we need to put a price on it. The only way to keep it honest is to enclose it in glass. Make every detail public. And it will serve to keep the riff-raff out of desiring any such position. If somebody wants authority, they should be stripped naked (metaphorically, if you insist). The tired old meme of 'if you have nothing to hide' definitely does apply for this, and it should be.

This article is about Google and the protection it receives from the public due to a corrupt government, but, of course it can be applied to anything we allow to get too big to control, government/corporation, doesn't matter.

Re:Failure to release the info means only one thin (1)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | about 2 years ago | (#41558801)

Oh right, please use the privacy-friendly search engine that uses bing instead, right? /facepalm

This sounds exactly like the typical "Would you rather have Romney do that..." that we keep reading every time someone has a valid criticism against Obama.

You first claim that he doesn't have an argument to assume the worst and later say that there's no privacy anywhere (assuming the worst everywhere?).

Re:Failure to release the info means only one thin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41560883)

If we shouldn't assume the worst why did they lobby to get all the important information redacted? Stop being a fucking fanboi.

It's ok... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555087)

What we don't know won't hurt us.

This is getting old. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555109)

"Freedom of Information"

There is nothing free about this information, or this country for that matter. I so can't wait to leave this backward third world shithole called the United States of America. Born and raised here, I am embarrassed not only by my government, but now by her people who sound touched by madness debating Obama vs. Romney. When did debating a pile of shit over a pile of vomit become the intellectual thing to do? What is sad is I can't tell which one is the pile of shit.

Re:This is getting old. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555185)

I can't tell which one is the pile of shit.

Gee, the color should make it obvious. When's the last time you've seen pink shit?

Re:This is getting old. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555221)

Sigh... I've seen pink vomit. (._.)

Re:This is getting old. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41556885)

also known as "that pepto bismol was a little too late"

Re:This is getting old. (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 2 years ago | (#41558553)

Daiquiris and other various drinks can make for pink vomit... really, anything red.

It's okay - it's Google (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#41555141)

I'm sure they'll get a free pass from a good chunk of the community here.

Re:It's okay - it's Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41557407)

Exactly. This story has been out there for over 10 hours at the time of this posting. There are 38 comments (now 39). Had this been Facebook, Apple or Microsoft there would be howls from the goose steppers and 10 times as many posts. That's what makes me scoff at the Slasdot groupthink... they don't care about privacy, they just need targets to hate to feel good about themselves.

Re:It's okay - it's Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41557903)

Or it could be that the story was posted at 10pm and a lot of people would be asleep?

FTC Releases Apple Privacy Audit, Blacks Out... (2)

tooyoung (853621) | about 2 years ago | (#41558305)

This is pretty interesting - as of the time that I'm posting this, there are 41 comments and almost no moderation on this story. I regularly see stories posted at 10PM pacific and wake up the next morning to see 200+ posts, but not in this case.

I suppose that we could say that this is just not really a story of interest. Perhaps, although before you make that argument, do you think that the comment count and moderation would be a little different if the headline had been:

FTC Releases Apple Privacy Audit, Blacks Out the Details

privacy is evil (3, Insightful)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 2 years ago | (#41555189)

If you're an advertiser, privacy is evil. And since google doesn't wish to be evil, they have to black out all the privacy stuff. It makes total sense.

let me fill in details (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555195)

CIA FBI NSA DHS {your govt spy agency} [some 3 letter variations of words and agencies you dont know about ] all are part of the loop .....enjoy !!!! if you got nothing to hide there is nothing to redact.

and how easily these all get access and the abuses that arise....oh joy and BING anfd YAHOO and others are all no better.
SOON as it gets into a corporations hands its game over.

 

Goggle! Ha ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555217)

The FTC calls them "Goggle" in the first line of the report!

3 types of data: Log, Account and ??? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555231)

Interesting, the report specifies that user data is 1 of 3 types,
  - Log data (user activity)
  - Account data (Users emails, settings, etc)
  - Third type is redacted.. Wonder what it is

Re:3 types of data: Log, Account and ??? (3, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41555275)

Wonder what it is...

Slashdot UID... Don't worry. You're safe

Re:3 types of data: Log, Account and ??? (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 2 years ago | (#41556075)

Anonymous Coward's UID is 666.

Re:3 types of data: Log, Account and ??? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#41556309)

They state that they keep account data and that users are allowed to access and delete their account data, yet the part that describes exactly what data they keep is redacted. If I'm able to access all account data, why do they need to redact it? Surely I could just access my account data and find out exactly what was redacted? Surely this redacted part must necessarily be public knowledge?

Re:3 types of data: Log, Account and ??? (1)

Xest (935314) | about 2 years ago | (#41556493)

The 3rd type is "Naked pics".

Re:3 types of data: Log, Account and ??? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#41558351)

Is log data just access records for certain accounts, or does it include user history (sites browsed collected through GA etc?) If not I'd guess that's what it is.

third type is.. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41559233)

..access data, for keeping logs on who's tapped that persons private information and for why (fbi, cia..).

Re:3 types of data: Log, Account and ??? (1)

emddudley (1328951) | about 2 years ago | (#41560031)

Interesting, the report specifies that user data is 1 of 3 types:

  • Log data (user activity)
  • Account data (Users emails, settings, etc)
  • Third type is redacted.. Wonder what it is

I wonder if it could be something like "derived" or "deduced" data, which is information about the user obtained from other sources.

Re:3 types of data: Log, Account and ??? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 2 years ago | (#41561877)

Interesting, the report specifies that user data is 1 of 3 types,
  - Log data (user activity)
  - Account data (Users emails, settings, etc)
  - Third type is redacted.. Wonder what it is

If I had to take a guess, the third item would be:

$$$ value of user (Past purchases, Purchasing power, Number of years before user dies and becomes worthless, etc.)

Of course, Google wouldn't know for sure when you're going to die. It would just have a rough estimate (with a margin of error of + or - 2 hours).

Re:3 types of data: Log, Account and ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41568347)

Interesting, the report specifies that user data is 1 of 3 types,

  - Log data (user activity)

  - Account data (Users emails, settings, etc)

  - Third type is redacted.. Wonder what it is

My guess is a users relationship among other users (i.e. family, friends, acquaintances, etc.).

Good news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555243)

Google cares so much about privacy that even a text's privacy must be protected. I have no doubts people can enjoy just as good privacy.

I've said it before and I'll say it again... (1)

dos4who (564592) | about 2 years ago | (#41555291)

My money's on the fact that they're building a massive biometric voice-print database on every single one of us every time we use Google's voice-to-text feature on an android device. Apple's not likely doing the same every time you use Siri. "Somebody"'s going to be very interested in accessing that information some day.

Re:I've said it before and I'll say it again... (1)

Shihar (153932) | about 2 years ago | (#41556207)

Um, money well bet? When you use the Google voice features it asks if it can build a database based on your voice so that it responds better to you. You can say no and it will just default to a standard attempt at voice match. Say yes, and it will start learning... like what most voice software does.

Re:I've said it before and I'll say it again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41558855)

That's why I put superglue in the mic of my phone, JOKES ON YOU GOOGLE!

Well... (2)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 2 years ago | (#41555389)

...We can safely assume the blacked-out information would hurt both the government and Google to varying degrees. So now what to do about it?

IMHO, the most effective personal strategy is to simply avoid using Google search and associated services. There ARE other services out there.

https://www.ixquick.com/ [ixquick.com]

For one example of a free service that emphasizes privacy and anonymity.

Deprive both Google and the government of the very data they are collecting that gives them more power. Well, at least until they make it illegal to not reveal data.

Strat

Hard to avoid Google's tracking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41555677)

Not sure if you noticed (try browsing with adblockplus [mozilla.org] and click "Open Blockable Items"), but Google is almost everywhere on the web in one way or another.

Whether it be via doubleclick, google analytics, or AJAX hosting, Google likely tracks about 90% of the sites you visit, and that's not counting your email to friends on gmail or the phone calls you unknowingly make to or receive from Google Voice subscribers. That's also not counting some of the services (like Chrome without privacy tweaks) that send almost 100% of the pages you visit in order to check for fraud or whatever.

To even attempt to avoid them, you can try using firefox with adblockplus [mozilla.org] with the EasyPrivacy+EasyList settings, but you still have to tweak it a little (like blocking google analytics and unchecking "Allow some non-intrusive advertising").

Re:Hard to avoid Google's tracking (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 2 years ago | (#41555761)

Not sure if you noticed (try browsing with adblockplus and click "Open Blockable Items"), but Google is almost everywhere on the web in one way or another.

Whether it be via doubleclick, google analytics, or AJAX hosting, Google likely tracks about 90% of the sites you visit, and that's not counting your email to friends on gmail or the phone calls you unknowingly make to or receive from Google Voice subscribers. That's also not counting some of the services (like Chrome without privacy tweaks) that send almost 100% of the pages you visit in order to check for fraud or whatever.

To even attempt to avoid them, you can try using firefox with adblockplus with the EasyPrivacy+EasyList settings, but you still have to tweak it a little (like blocking google analytics and unchecking "Allow some non-intrusive advertising").

I agree, it does take some work. I have a number of privacy/security related extensions installed, use FreeBSD, Tor for many things, changed browser settings in the "about:config", etc.

It all depends on how much effort it's worth to you to not be digitally anal-probed.

Strat

Re:Hard to avoid Google's tracking (1)

blackest_k (761565) | about 2 years ago | (#41556345)

I noticed just this week, that new installations of adblock+ now come with a whitelist of "approved" advertisers. You can turn it off in the configuration. Oh and I just checked my own install had it allowed by default.

Wonder how many users know that they are allowing some ads through.

Re:Hard to avoid Google's tracking (5, Interesting)

cheros (223479) | about 2 years ago | (#41556575)

Actually, I came across another sneaky way with which Google is gathering data: Google fonts.

It means Google gets a hit every time a website with a CSS layout using Google fonts because it needs to call the fonts API to get them..

Apples to...? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#41561589)

We can safely assume the blacked-out information would hurt both the government and Google to varying degrees.

Not necessarily in any way that indicates something nefarious. Google likely has something at stake in the realm of business trade secrets which are frequently contained in information gathered in regulatory audits and are specifically exempted from FOIA requests.

The government has an interest, too, in business cooperating with regulatory audits, and them becoming an indirect tool of corporate espionage contradicts that interest, so the government is unlikely to casually ignore the trade secret exemption from the FOIA.

IMHO, the most effective personal strategy is to simply avoid using Google search and associated services. There ARE other services out there.

Other services which have had an external audit, based on the same criteria as the FTC-commissioned audit of Google, of their privacy practices which has been publicly released with no redactions? And, if not, how are they relevant to the immediate story?

Re:Apples to...? (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 2 years ago | (#41583507)

Other services which have had an external audit, based on the same criteria as the FTC-commissioned audit of Google, of their privacy practices which has been publicly released with no redactions? And, if not, how are they relevant to the immediate story?

How about a service which doesn't collect the data in the first place, so that an audit is redundant?

https://www.ixquick.com/eng/press/ixquick-privacy-gets-better.html [ixquick.com]

If that's not relevant and on-topic then not much is.

Strat

Trust us; we don't trust you. (1)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about 2 years ago | (#41555815)

So Google says "Trust us" while simultaneously saying "we don't trust you." If the point of being under sanctions requiring monitoring by the FTC was to get away with anything it wants to, it succeeded.

And how we an "independent audit" be trusted if it can't be vetted. It often occurs that government types enter the carousel of working for private industry after initially learning the ropes of regulation; it also often occurs that "independent audit" companies often create reports that are of benefit to the companies being audited in order to curry favor and receive payment for other services down the road. Isn't that what happened with all of the falsely-rated "AAA" mortgage-backed securities?

_

So I'll say it again, how can you trust the independence and validity of an audit process if it cannot be separately vetted?

All this seems to confirm (3, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | about 2 years ago | (#41555917)

...is that the government cares more about Google's privacy than our own.

As an employee of Google, I can say that (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41556203)

[REDACTED]

It really make me wonder .. (1)

cheros (223479) | about 2 years ago | (#41556579)

.. what they have to hide ..

Do evil. Google.

Blacks out the details? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41558851)

It's good that someone got the details out, but what does the color of their skin have to do with anything?

Re:Blacks out the details? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41559503)

well.. it could be worse, like, detailing out the blacks.

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