Google's Privacy: Would APEC Have An Impact?

Nov 20, 2007
Nicole A. Ozer

Page Media

ACLU of Northern CA

The ranking members of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, Democrat Herb Kohl from Wisconsin and Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah, have just sent a joint letter urging the FTC to thoroughly explore Google's planned $3.1 billion purchase of online marketing company, DoubleClick. Google has been taking substantial hits in the press for the last few months about its desired merger.

Earlier this fall, Google was also ranked by Privacy International as the worst major Internet company in terms of consumer privacy.

However, in between these bouts of bad press, Google got some positive news coverage in September when Peter Fleischer, Google's Global Privacy Counsel, called for the creation of international standards for internet privacy that would "meet the expectations and demands of consumers, businesses, and governments," and endorsed the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) framework.

According to Google, it endorsed APEC's framework because it balances the need to facilitate e-commerce with definable and workable privacy protections for the individual.

It is important to dig deeper and analyze the APEC standards to determine whether this framework contains adequate safeguards for privacy and is ultimately a good roadmap for international privacy standards.

APEC defines personal information and centers on nine principles:

  • 1. Preventing harm;
  • 2. Notice;
  • 3. Collection limitations;
  • 4. Uses of personal information;
  • 5. Choice;
  • 6. Integrity of personal information;
  • 7. Security safeguards;
  • 8. Access and correction; and
  • 9. Accountability.

Click here for an analysis of the APEC standards and the impact that these standards might play in alleviating the privacy concerns posed by some Google services.