Monday, January 21, 2008
Continuing the privacy discussion at the European Parliament
Privacy is a global issue which knows no borders. And as policymakers around the world grapple with how best to protect consumers' privacy online, I'm joining other privacy stakeholders at a European Parliament seminar today looking at what online companies like Google are doing to protect privacy and the need to take an industry-wide approach to these challenges.
At the heart of the privacy debate is a concern around how companies use consumers’ data. There is nothing new about companies using consumer data to offer and improve their services. Think about the mobile phone and supermarket loyalty card in your pocket. The speed in which we are sharing data is unparalleled in our history.
During my remarks today I plan to underscore to the European Parliament our commitment to privacy. We put great effort into building privacy protections into our products and systems. We also have clear privacy policies based on the principles of transparency and choice. You – our users – deserve to know what information is being collected and why, so that you can make informed decisions about the Google services you use. That’s why we created a Google privacy channel on YouTube, why we are sharing with you our submission to the European Parliament, and why we published a booklet that provides an overview of all our privacy policies.
Privacy is an industry-wide issue. Every internet company is taking a different approach to collecting and using user data and so a serious look at privacy requires an industry-wide approach. The Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) published its guidelines in 2000, serving as the benchmarks for the online advertising industry. As technology and practices continues to evolve, it is necessary to reevaluate best practices. For example, in which context should data be considered anonymous and when should it be considered personally identifiable?
The United States Federal Trade Commission published a set of draft principles in December 2007 stressing the need for clear and effective notice to consumers, choice, security and the need for extra protection for individuals' sensitive personal information, such as their sexual orientation or their religious views.
Privacy is a global issue that knows no borders. We need all stakeholders -- governments, businesses, political parties, privacy groups industry associations, and others -- to work together to ensure a global solution.