London-based watchdog group Privacy International castigated Google for the company’s inattention to privacy concerns, and the blog world — led by Googler Matt Cutts — lept to Google’s defense.
As well they should. The report is shoddy. PI isn’t concerned with soberly analyzing actual privacy transgressions — they seem to be more concerned with promoting their anti-data retention polemics. By attacking Google, PI is trying to set the terms of the European debate, and force Google to change how it does business in the EU.
This isn’t the first time PI has taken Google to task. Back in May an advisory panel of data-protection chiefs from the 27 countries in the European Union sent a letter to Google asking it to justify its data retention policies. In an interview at the time, PI’s Simon Davies told the New York Times that Google was a leading target of complaints received by his organization in 2006. Davies said 96% of Internet-related complaints were about Google and its practice of retaining customer data.