Google Calls For Global Privacy Standards

The company goes on offense in Europe over privacy concerns.
Google takes a lot of heat from the European Union over its privacy standards. Now the company is taking its turn to speechify.

This morning, Google's Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer took the stage at a European regional meeting on the "ethical dimensions of the information society," organized by the French Commission of the UNESCO, to call for international privacy standards.

"The majority of the world's countries offer virtually no privacy standards to their citizens and businesses," Fleischer later wrote in a blog post calling for international privacy standards that are "clear and strong, mindful of commercial realities, and in line with oftentimes divergent political needs."

Now is the time for such standards, Fleischer writes, because of accelerating globalization, technological innovation and concern over personal privacy.

Search rivals Ask and Microsoft called for industry-wide standards in July.

As a workable model for international standards, however, Fleischer cites the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Privacy Framework.

The APEC Privacy Framework, according to the organization's Web site, is built on nine principles: preventing harm, integrity of personal information, notice, security safeguards, collection limitations, access and correction, uses of personal information, accountability and choice.

Fleischer said the framework appeals to Google because it balances business needs and commercial interests. And unlike other international privacy standards, as well as the OECD guidelines and the European Directive, the APEC Privacy Framework was developed in the "Internet age."

A Google spokesperson told the company does not mean to endorse specific privacy standards, such as APEC's, but to advocate a "clear strong workable practice."

In June, Google responded to pressure from the European Union over privacy concerns by agreeing to anonymize its search server logs after 18 months. Previously, Google held onto user search data for as long as 24 months, a length of time the company decided on in reaction to past European Union (EU) concerns.

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