October 15, 2006

return of son of i want my google data privacy

We've been talking a lot about the need for this new service I've been calling "Google Data Privacy" (i'm a bit worried...; i want my GDP; i want my GDP some more, etc), and it might be useful to try defining what it would actually do. I'll try to be realistic about this ;-)

Google Data Privacy is a Google service that would:
- allow me to review what Google knows about me across all their services
- tell me how long they are planning to keep it
- allow me to manage my opt-in & opt-out choices across all my services in one place
- help educate me on the risks and benefits of their holding this data
- describe Google's strategies for safeguarding my data against misuse by Google as a company, individual Google employees, 3rd party companies, the press, the general public, governments, legal process (civil & criminal), and of course bad actors.
- give me a big red button to nuke everything they are keeping about me, in case i want to completely terminate my relationship with Google.

If GOOG were to provide something like this set of features, it would substantially improve my trust in them, and it would help raise the bar on privacy protection for other service providers as well.

Now if Google really wanted to hit a home run with GDP, then I would like to see them create a similar set of capabilities that work for non-Google services -- sort of a personal Internet privacy analytics engine. I can't count on my ISP, my employer, or the myriad of sites and services I use, to provide anything close to GDP, so I want Google to help me with this. I'd be willing to install a new toolbar, or maybe even a special GoogleFox browser, that captured my entire clickstream and gave me the ability to analyze who else my personal data is exposed to, and what has been exposed over time. Where service providers have articulated data retention policies, it would show these as well. GDP might incorporate a set of data privacy and anonymity tools to give me better options for selectively hiding or revealing personal information when needed. Wouldn't that be good?

OK, that's the best I can do right now. Maybe Google can do better than this, in fact, they almost certainly can. What do you think, does this have a snowball's chance?

Posted by Gene at October 15, 2006 10:20 PM | TrackBack