In a letter dated January 26, Roger Clarke of APF wrote to Google’s Public Policy & Government Affairs, Google Australia and Google’s Global Privacy Counsel about Google’s lack of meaningful engagement with the privacy advocacy group.
Referencing a September 2nd communication seeking two types of engagement: advance notice of releases that may give rise to privacy concerns and prior consultation about intended services and features, Clarke notes that:
It was not possible for any of the relevant Board members to be in your offices on 13 September – which is the only timeslot that you have proposed for a meeting during the last 12 months.
We’ve heard nothing further on the matter since then, apart from a brief note from Ishtar on 18 October.
Would you please advise whether and when you will commence meaningful engagement betweenour two organisations.
Prior consultation is something I wish all of these big companies engaged in. Could the Buzz debacle with its multi-million dollar fine have been avoided had Google run it by privacy advocates first? How many Facebook privacy fiascos might have been avoided if Facebook had actually engaged in meaningful consultation with privacy advocates before releasing new features?
Companies like to keep things under wraps so that they can roll them out and control the media release – and so that their competitors don’t get wind of what they’re doing. I understand all of that, and yet continue to encourage tech companies to work with us before any new feature or service is released instead of just after the protests start.