February 06, 2004

Google, Orkut, Personal Data Sharing, and Privacy Policy

There's an interesting _Register_ article by Andrew Orlowski "Google revives discredited Microsoft privacy policy for Friendster clone" which discuss the privacy policy of the social site Orkut. Jeremy Zawodny started the issue, asking Why Google needs Orkut. He (Zawodny) speculates:

Let's assume that Google internationalizes Orkut and lets it run to the point that it has millions of users registered and active. That's not an unreasonable thing to expect. Then, one day down the road, they quietly decide to "better integrate" Orkut with Google and start redirecting all Orkut requests to orkut.google.com.


Suddenly they're able to set a *.google.com cookie that contains a bit of identifying data (such as your Orkut id) and that would greatly enhance their ability to mine useful and profitable data from the combination of your profile and daily searches.

Why the conjecture?

Has anyone pointed out yet that Orkut outright says that it "may" share information with Google?

Orkut's privacy policy states: (emphasis mine)

We may share both personally identifiable information about you and aggregate usage information that we collect with Google Inc. and agents of orkut in accordance to the terms and conditions of this Privacy Policy. We will never rent, sell, or share your personal information with any third party for marketing purposes without your express permission.

Part of the "in affiliation with Google" obviously means that Google is not considered a third party. In fact, later on (emphasis mine):

Personal information collected on this site may be stored and processed in the United States or any other country in which orkut.com or Google Inc. or agents maintain facilities, and by using this site, you consent to any such transfer of information outside of your country.

Whatever the eventual result, the data-sharing connection sure isn't unclear.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google | on February 06, 2004 11:58 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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