Privacy Update at Google and Microsoft

By Peter S. Vogel

Google has a team of 60 engineers, & Microsoft has 40 people, fully devoted to avoiding violation of privacy laws in the US and around the world. At a recent legal seminar executives from Google and Microsoft described how many resources they devote to privacy law compliance.

Google's senior privacy attorney Keith Enright said that the Google team of 60 engineers "work on developing products and then the legal team steps in to examine them." As well, Google employs Anne Toth (former Yahoo! Chief Trust Officer) to oversee privacy for Google+. 

In addition to the 40 Microsoft employees dedicated to privacy full time, Microsoft also has another 400 people who spend time on privacy law compliance.

Although the US privacy laws are generally managed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there is not a single privacy law like the 1995 EU Data Directive. However a recent NY Times report indicated that it may be time to harmonize the privacy laws in the EU since the now very old 1995 privacy laws do not seem to apply well as the Internet and Social Media in 2011. 

No surprise that Google and Microsoft want to avoid the sort of problems that led to the FTC's 20 year monitoring of Google for its failure to manage privacy with its Social Media Buzz, and the FTC's proposed 20 year monitoring of privacy compliance of Facebook.

What is your organization doing to comply with privacy laws? When was the last time you look at the privacy policies on your website?

Visit Peter Vogel's Internet, Information Technology and e-Discovery Blog.

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