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Google Calls For Global Privacy Standards

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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

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.

This article was first published on

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