Privacy watchdogs gang up against Google

Data protection authorities in ten countries have fired off a letter to Google complaining about its privacy policies.

“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,” said the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart.

“As part of an unprecedented collaboration, data protection authorities representing over 375 million people in 10 countries are speaking with a common voice to remind these organizations that they must comply with the privacy laws of each country where they roll out online products and services.”

The joint letter to Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt expressed particular concern about the company’s recent launch of its social network, Google Buzz.

It’s been signed by the heads of data protection authorities in Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the UK, and ticked poor Eric off in no uncertain terms.

“We are increasingly concerned that, too often, the privacy rights of the world’s citizens are being forgotten as Google rolls out new technological applications,” read  the letter.

“We were disturbed by your recent rollout of the Google Buzz social networking application, which betrayed a disappointing disregard for fundamental privacy norms and laws.

“Moreover, this was not the first time you have failed to take adequate account of privacy considerations when launching new services.”

There’s clearly not going to be any cake for tea.

The letter suggested that it should have been obvious to Google that Buzz was going to cause problems.

Google automatically assigned users a network of followers from the people they corresponded with most on Gmail – without a proper explanation, said the group.

While Google apologised and introduced changes, the group is calling for more information on how it plans to comply with national privacy laws in future.