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Chinese attacks on Google show need to focus on security, privacy

Posted: January 14, 2010 11:42 a.m.
Updated: January 13, 2010 11:40 a.m.
 
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Google acted correctly in ending self-censorship of its Chinese search engine, Google.cn, but the cyber attacks that prompted the decision demonstrate the company must give American consumers better security and privacy controls, Consumer Watchdog said today.

"Google should never have agreed to censor itself as the price for admission to the Chinese market; it's good they have reversed themselves. It sends a strong message to China about an open Internet," said John M. Simpson, a consumer advocate with the nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer group. "But the most important takeaway from the incident is how vulnerable our data is on Google's cloud. Google must immediately implement better security and give us more control of our own data."

Google compiles more information about consumers' online behavior than any Internet company and consumers should have the right to control how that information is used or if it is even gathered, Consumer Watchdog said.

"Google has emphasized speed and efficiency over security and privacy," Simpson said. "With so much of our information in Google's worldwide network of servers, its time that security and privacy got proper attention from the Internet giant."

To give consumers better control of their information Consumer Watchdog said Google should:
-- Make SSL encryption through the https protocol the default mode for all data transferred over the Internet from a consumer's computer to Google's servers.
-- Give consumers the ability to see what information Google has collected on them and to delete it.
-- Provide an "Anonymize-me" button across all its services that would allow the consumer not to be tracked.

Consumer Watchdog, formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, Ca.

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