Google “threat to privacy”

Internet expert Scott Cleland testified yesterday before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Internet Subcommittee on broadband regulations and privacy, highlighting the need for a comprehensive approach to Internet privacy, and spotlighting the serious privacy threat posed by Internet applications like Google.

“I am concerned that selective oversight of only broadband privacy matters fosters a blind eye to arbitrage of privacy laws by application companies like Google, Yahoo and others,” Cleland said. “This creates perverse incentives for companies not covered by U.S. privacy laws to push the envelope on privacy for competitive advantage.”

Cleland noted that while broadband providers are subject to a host of privacy laws and regulations, Internet applications are not subject to any consumer privacy protections. Cleland called the discrepancy a double standard that Google and others have arbitraged to the detriment of consumers. He said “Americans’ privacy should not be an unrestricted commodity to sell to the highest bidder.” Moreover, Google collects and stores “more private information about more people than any other company in the world.”

“The lack of a holistic, comprehensive and balanced approach to privacy is a serious threat to Americans’ privacy,” Cleland said.

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