International Telecommunication Union   ITU
 
 
Site Map Contact us Print Version
 Monday, September 17, 2007

The Washington Post reports on Google's call for new international standards on the collection and use of consumer data. "Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel for Google, told a U.N. audience in Strasbourg, France, that fragmentary international privacy laws burden companies and don't protect consumers. He argued for an international body such as the United Nations to create standards that individual countries could then adopt and adapt to fit their needs. 'The ultimate goal should be to create minimum standards of privacy protection that meet the expectations and demands of consumers, businesses and governments,' Fleischer said, according to a transcript of the speech provided by Google."

Investigations over Google's privacy practices are currently conducted by the European Union. There have been controversy and criticisms on Google's privacy policies and its planned $3.1 billion merger with DoubleClick, an online advertising broker that sells banner and video ads. Critics argue that the merger which would enable the company to collect information on which sites users visit, would hurt competition in online advertising, and that it would aggregate too much consumer data in the hands of one company. According to Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and a critic of the DoubleClick merger, "Google, under investigation for violating global privacy standards, is calling for international privacy standards... It's somewhat like someone being caught for speeding saying there should be a public policy to regulate speeding."

Fleischer proposes the privacy framework developed by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which he refers to as a balance between information privacy, and business needs and commercial interests. However, critics say that the APEC standards are too lenient. Rotenberg adds further that the APEC rules put the burden on consumers, who must demonstrate that a company's privacy policy has harmed them. Guidelines developed in 1980 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development which influenced the European Union's privacy laws and are usually preferred by privacy advocates, generally focus on the violation of privacy as a right rather than a demonstration of harm caused by the violation.

To read the full article, click here.
Read more about Peter Fleischer's views on privacy on his blog.