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Separating 'personal info' from 'personal data' and 'sensitive personal info'...
Contradictory and confusing: overlapping terms
So when one part of the policy offers protection for “personal information”, another offers protection for “personal data”, another for “personally identifiable information” and yet another for "other information that identifies you" is the policy referring to the same type of information or not? Answers on a postcard to Google.
This is not the only problem. At times the policy uses a qualifier (eg, “log information” or “location information”). "Log information" by the way are the "details of how you used our service, such as your search queries" while "location information" is "information about your actual location" (my emphasis).
Can we have a quick quiz? Can you tell me whether “information” about your use or your location is “non-personally identifiable information” or “personal information”? My own view is that, because the policy uses the word “information” to describe logs and locations, that Google thinks it to be the former, but I suspect you think it could well be the latter.
Why is it in breach of the Directive and Safe Harbor?
Secondly, I don’t think Google (and other USA corporations, I have to say) have quite “got it” in the context of the messages coming out of the Leveson Inquiry. Google has not understood that a large multinational communications company, headed by the Murdochs, is in trouble not because it invaded the privacy of celebrities, but because it invaded the privacy of ordinary individuals. Google’s meat and drink is the processing of personal data and data relating to millions of ordinary citizens.
The Murdochs thought they were so large and powerful that they were invincible and it appears that Google does the same. By ignoring basic data protection laws and rules in the way described in its own policy, even those agreements established in the USA, Google is taking some unnecessary risks.
2 The US Safe Harbor Harbor Privacy Principles – issued by the US Department of Commerce on 12 July, 2000.
This story originally appeared at HAWKTALK, the blog of Amberhawk Training Ltd.