Google calls for world-wide privacy standard

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Google calls for world-wide privacy standard

SA Mathieson

Globalisation and increasing awareness of privacy rights requires global standards, Google's global privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, has said.

In a post on Google's company blog, he said such a move would reflect the reality that data often crosses six or seven countries for routine internet transactions.

"Countries cannot and will not be able to write effective privacy legislation without global cooperation. And as long as there are no global standards for privacy protection, individuals and businesses will remain at risk as they operate online," he wrote.

"It is time that privacy policy, like the data its meant to protect, become global," he concluded.

Fleischer said that the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) group's Privacy Framework, agreed by the 21 member countries, represents "the most promising foundation on which to build", as it balances privacy with commercial interests and involves countries with "very divergent privacy tradition".

Apec includes Australia and New Zealand, but also China, the country for which Google runs a censored version of its search engine. The company has previously defended this by saying a cut-down, working service is better than a service blocked by China's "great firewall", through which the country attempts to bar many websites.

"Google has made a number of progressive announcements in the last few months" on privacy said Gus Hosein, a senior fellow of human rights campaign Privacy International, following the group's criticism of the company in a report.

However, he questioned Apec's framework as a model. "The major problem with the Apec agreement is that it has been negotiated with pressure from industry and the United States government [an Apec member]," he said, and appears weaker than European Union privacy laws. "It is forum-shopping, in a classic way."

This article first appeared on the website of Infosecurity magazine.


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