Cloud: Google Lays Out Privacy Commitment Plans
Cloud computing brings with it a boatload of privacy concerns. And as one of the most prominent cloud companies in the consumer eye, Google takes more than its fair share of flak when something goes wrong. That’s why in a blog entry dated October 22nd, Google laid out its roadmap to restore faith in their commitment to privacy. From new positions to new documentation requirements, it’s well worth a read. Here are some highlights.
According to the official Google blog entry, these changes were prompted by an incident in May 2010 where the company announced that Street View cars accidentally collected unencrypted WiFi payload data. But it’s not as if there haven’t been other privacy incidents in the meantime.
Either way, the end result is a recommitment to making sure private data stays private. The plan has three main tiers, per that same blog entry:
- People – Google has announced that security expert Alma Whitten will be the company’s new privacy czar, making sure that their teams build sufficient privacy controls into their products and internal practices alike. She already worked with Google Engineering in that capacity, but the new role will see Whitten work with more employees.
- Training – Any Google employee for whom it may at all be an issue, from Legal to Engineering, will experience core training with an enhanced focus on how to handle and collect data. Moreover, all employees will have to take a security awareness program.
- Compliance – Every engineering project leader will be required to keep a privacy design document for each initiative. Managers and internal audit teams alike will review said document to make sure there’s no impropriety.
While Google’s blog talks a lot about the Street View incident, these new rules seem designed to keep users within the Googleplex itself from mishandling data, either intentionally or by accident, and to provide a paper trail when the worst happens. And given that accountability like this is exactly what the IT world has been calling for, The VAR Guy will be watching closely to see how the channel reacts. But is it too little, too late?