Ten countries urge privacy changes at Google

* Ten sayBuzz/Gmail problem should never have happened

* Google says tries very hard to be upfront about data

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON, April 20 (BestGrowthStock) – Data protection and
privacy chiefs from 10 countries issued a joint letter pushing
search engine giant Google (GOOG.O: ) to improve respect for data
privacy, Canada’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner said on
Tuesday.

The heads of data protection authorities in Canada, France,
Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand,
Spain and Britain issued a letter whose criticism focused on
the botched roll-out of Google’s Buzz.

In introducing the new service in February, Google melded
existing Gmail accounts with its new service Buzz, thus
exposing Gmail contacts to other Buzz users. Google has made
changes to Buzz to take into account the criticism.

But the privacy chiefs argued that the problem should never
have occurred.

“(W)e are increasingly concerned that, too often, the
privacy rights of the world’s citizens are being forgotten as
Google rolls out new technological applications. We were
disturbed by your recent roll-out of the Google Buzz social
networking application, which betrayed a disappointing
disregard for fundamental privacy norms and laws,” said the
letter, which was addressed to Google Chief Executive Eric
Schmidt.

In the letter, which also noted previous privacy
controversies over Google Street View, the privacy chiefs
called on Google to collect as little information about users
as is practicable, to inform users about how their information
will be used, to ensure privacy controls are easy to find and
easy to use, among other steps.

“While we hear corporations such as Google pay lip service
to privacy, we don’t always see this reflected in the launch of
new products,” Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart
said in a statement.

Google said it tries “very hard to be upfront about the
data we collect, and how we use it, as well as to build
meaningful controls into our products.”

“Of course we do not get everything 100 percent right —
that is why we acted so quickly on Buzz following the user
feedback we received,” a spokesman said in an emailed
statement.

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(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

Ten countries urge privacy changes at Google