Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Privacy Of Aggregated Non-Personal Information When Performing Google Searches

A Google VP of Engineering discusses this interesting topic: How Google keeps your information secure.

I have a comment about Google’s privacy policy.
When a user performs Google searches, there is an expectation of privacy regarding at least two types of information:
  • Personally identifiable information
  • Searches
Google's privacy policy for using aggregated search data is described here:
"We may share with third parties certain pieces of aggregated, non-personal information, such as the number of users who searched for a particular term, for example, or how many users clicked on a particular advertisement. Such information does not identify you individually."

"Aggregate non-personal information is information that is recorded about users and collected into groups so that it no longer reflects or references an individually identifiable user."

Does the Google policy on the use of aggregate non-personal information prevent Google from using search information in the following example scenarios:
A team (i.e. aggregate) of research scientists is doing research to patent a new router, or a lunar spacecraft engine.

It appears that Google's privacy policy allows the searches of aggregated research scientists to be shared with third parties.

Is this a huge flaw in the privacy policy?

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