Online Privacy Report Card Issued: No Valedictorian, One Dunce

Big Brother Awards Presented by Privacy International Ever wonder how secure your online information with various companies may be? This month a report from Privacy International stated that Google’s privacy policies were suspect. What has followed? Accusations of a smear campaign by Google toward Privacy International and several other unseemly accusations.

Google was not the only company reviewed. Other companies included Amazon, AOL, Apple, BBC, Bebo, eBay, Facebook, Friendster, Hi5,, LinkeIn, LiveJournal, Microsoft, MySpace, Orkut,, Skype, Wikipedia, Windows Live Space, Xanga, Yahoo!, and YouTube.

If you would like, go view a PDF of highlights of the privacy findings of Privacy International. (update 9/19/2014 – links for this blog no longer function and have been removed)

Privacy International has responded to the alleged smear campaign by sending an open letter to Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt, and has requested a meeting with many of the “Internet giants” to address data handling issues related to privacy.

According to an article by, privacy concerns have also been raised due to Google’s recent purchase of DoubleClick, sprouting an investigation by the FTC.

Privacy Report Cards:

Of the companies reviewed none were listed as “privacy friendly and privacy enhancing” and only Google had the distinguished “Hostile to Privacy” assessment.

Live Journal, BBC, Wikipedia,, and eBay were listed as “Generally privacy aware.”

Those listed as “Substantial Threat” included: AOL, Apple, Facebook, Hi5,, Windows Live Space, and Yahoo!

The rest of the companies were either listed with “serious” or “notable” security lapses.

Big Brother Award for Google? Almost.

Google was nominated to win PI’s coveted “Big Brother” award for “Most Invasive Company” in February this year “for their retention practices and their purchase of Doubleclick, an on-line marketing and profiling firm” but was beaten out by ChoicePoint “for their vast databases of personal data, sold to nearly anyone who wishes to pay.”

Interesting times, eh? When your privacy is becoming more and more difficult to insure, while identity theft and loss of personal freedoms continue to soar.