According to media coverage in recent days, Google has come under scrutiny once again for privacy violations and once again the company has claimed the problem to be merely a one-time oversight. It was discovered this week that the Internet giant had been needlessly collecting information children’s social security numbers as a part of the “Doodle-4-Google” game and promotion. The collection of this information was required to register for the promotion, with seemingly no legitimate rationale.
This disturbing incident comes on the heels of concerns that Google illegally collected data from private wireless networks while researching their street view program. The invasive street view program (which publishes unconsented-to pictures of private homes and residences online) itself has also raised concerns. Several states and foreign governments have even launched formal investigations into Google’s street view activities and members of Congress have requested a federal investigation. Many more are likely in the months to come.
What is particularly troubling is Google’s nonchalant response to every privacy violation as if each one were a simple one-time error. In reality, a pattern of disregard for privacy has emerged. It seems that Google’s way of doing business does not respect the sensitivity of information transmitted over the Internet, even when it comes to children. Regardless of the final outcome of all of these cases, Google needs to recognize that the “one time mistake” excuse has run its course and should own up to its continued and systematic apathy towards personal privacy.