Google’s Privacy PR: Here’s What They Sent to Reporters. But real safeguards are required, especially in the GoogleClick era

Yesterday a reporter sent me the following email sent from the Google PR shop. Instead of calling for responsible policy safeguards to protect consumers, Google is distributing booklets, videos and other self-help materials (in other words, let the user beware). It’s not surprising that Google is on a PR effort to quell the growing calls for real privacy protection. But they are not living up to their own ideals if they fail to really be more candid about the conflicts they have with a business model entirely based on data collection and targeted marketing.

Here’s the email:

“From: “Adam Kovacevich”
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Sent: Monday, January 28, 2008 12:23:11 PM (GMT-0500) Auto-Detected
Subject: Happy Data Privacy Day

Okay, okay, so you can be forgiven if you didn’t realize today was Data Privacy Day here in dear old North America. At Google we’ve been doing a lot lately to educate our users about our privacy policies (particularly the launch of our Google Privacy YouTube channel ), but we figured today was a good day to unleash a few more education efforts. To wit:

• A brand spankin’ new video on the YouTube channel explaining how cookies work:
• A new booklet ( ) that gives our users an in-depth look at our privacy practices and approach. This should be a particular good resource for you journos too.
• We’ve co-sponsored the creation of educational materials ( ) on teen online privacy for parents and educators.
• Our senior privacy counsel Jane Horvath is today joining legal scholars, privacy professionals, and government officials from Europe and the U.S. at an international data privacy conference being held at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

For more on all of this, check out our blog post:

or background from the Search Engine Land blog:


Adam Kovacevich | Sr. Manager, Global Communications and Public Affairs | Google
1101 New York Ave NW | Second Floor | Washington, DC 20005 “

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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