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Google Wants Global Privacy Rules

PrivacyGoogle’s privacy chief, Peter Fleischer, has called on the U.N. to help set up global privacy standards for the future of the internet. Speaking just before a UN agency conference, Mr Fleischer said, “Three quarters of the countries in the world have no privacy regimes at all and among those that do have laws, many of them were largely adopted before the rise of the internet.”

Google says that, because vast amounts of personal data are regularly sent around the globe electronically, we need some sort of privacy framework to govern those transactions. The BBC quotes Mr Fleischer as saying, “every time a person uses a credit card their information may cross six or seven national boundaries.”

I’m sure that the irony of Google calling for worldwide privacy rules is not lost on Compiler readers. The search giant has been under fire in recent months for its own privacy policies. Although Google has made some changes to how it stores user data, many still think it has a long way to go; one report characterized Google as outright hostile to privacy concerns.

But Google’s desire for international guidelines might in fact have something to do with its own privacy guidelines. Google is in the difficult position of having to enact different privacy standards according to local laws. International guidelines would help untangle the company’s snarl of privacy statements.

When he addressed the Strasbourg Unesco conference, Mr Fleischer called for countries to adopt principles similar to those agreed by some Asia-Pacific nations. The APEC guidelines have nine principles that aim to protect the individual and safeguard data collection and have been accepted by countries ranging from Australia to Vietnam.

But the APEC guidelines have also been criticized repeatedly in the past and may not in fact offer much in the way of privacy protection for consumers.

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