Privacy policy link

The NY Times recently published an article about Google taking a stand on not putting a direct link to its privacy policy on its home page, the arguments are summarized as follows in the article:

One of the core principles of the group has been that its members should provide “clear and conspicuous notice” of how they collect and uses data. This has been interpreted to mean that a link to a site’s privacy policy should be on its home page.

Google, however, told the group that it would not comply with that rule.

Larry Page, the company’s co-founder, didn’t want a privacy link “on that beautiful clean home page,” said one executive at a Google competitor who is involved in reviewing Google’s N.A.I. application. (The executive didn’t want his name used because the applications are meant to be considered privately.)

“His argument is when you come to Google and you are looking for information, it is that big fat box” for search and little else, the executive said.

Indeed, Steve Langdon, a Google spokesman, reiterated this view to me in an e-mail after I asked about the matter:

We believe it is important for consumers to be able to easily find privacy policies and other privacy information. By simply typing ‘Google privacy policy’ into the Google search engine, consumers can easily find not only our privacy policy, but additional information about privacy.

When I asked why not simply put the link to the privacy policy on Google’s home page, Mr. Langdon said in another e-mail:

We do believe that having very limited text on our home page is important and that is something we have shared with the N.A.I.

So I took a look at the Google home page (I rarely go there preferring to use the search box in browser, hardwired to Google I might add. Yo! Steve J. remind me how I can change that? I can’t!! Well that sux).

Anyway on the Google home page there are three links at the bottom of the page as follows:

Advertising Programs – Business Solutions – About Google

How hard would it be to do this:

Advertising Programs – Business Solutions – About Google – Privacy Policy

I am not sure that this would add clutter, after all there are three ‘clutter’ links on the home page already (to the right of the search box, I bet you have not used them in a blue moon):

Advanced Search
Language Tools

I think it would be good (googley?) for Google to take the moral high road here and take this opportunity to pre-empt yet more controversy over its privacy policies by making it really easy to get to them.

UPDATED May 30, 2008 – It turns out that there is a legal requirement in the state of California for commercial web sites that collects personal information to “conspicuously post its privacy policy on its Web site.”


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